Monday, 1 March 2010

En Izakaya, Balaclava

It won’t be bleedin obvious what this sparsely filled space’s objective is. That becomes apparent when you flick through some pages of dishes described using flavours of miso, soy, mirin, tempura, wagyu and sashimi. Japanese pub purists might cry foul at this popular Balaclava restaurant… I mean café… I mean easy drinking bar that serves food… wanting to take the word izakaya back.

But when there’s shredded tuna and spring onion wrapped in lightly fried tofu sheets and the spoon suckin good sweet caramelised soy, mirin and honey basting flamed pork belly to be consumed with an ice cold Yebisu, Asahi or sake, a little slack could be cut. A specials milky omelette and cold spanner crab failed the level tool test as the cold of the meat and the textures of the overall dish were slightly off balance. But get it right in the honey marinaded ox tongue barbequed with a shackled chilli kick and sesame chicken with the sweetness of honey, chilli heat and subtle acidity from sansho pepper.

You can whine about the name, but can’t too much about the sophisticated grazing dishes. Just don’t call it tapas.

3 / 5 yums!
Where? 277 Carlisle Street, Balaclava, VIC
What? Dishes $8 - $16

Left to Right : Salmon Sushi; Soba in cold soy and mirin with zucchini and tomato; tuna, spring onion, bean curd sheet; Pork Belly; Ox Tongue; Crab and Omelette; Sesame Chicken; Soy Pannacotta

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