Izakaya: The place for a flavorful evening

Izkaya 1
The entrance of Izakaya. (Photos: Raja Attar/Jordan News)
Just above Little Italy in Abdoun, you can find the new Sake bar, Izakaya. The word Izakaya literally translates to stay-drink-place. This Sake bar can be considered the Japanese equivalent of the Spanish Tapas bar.اضافة اعلان

Izakaya-style dishes are famous for being small quantity dishes usually meant for sharing while enjoying beverages with friends and family. The food boasts a range of complex flavors and an elegant presentation meant to be both gustatory and visually pleasing.

I went to Izakaya a few years ago, and I was very excited to pay the bar a visit. Although I’ve heard excellent things about their cocktails, trying the food was my main goal.
Food for sharing is best enjoyed with friends and family, so naturally, I invited a friend, and we made our way to yet another FigTree owned restaurant. To access Izakaya, you must go through Little Italy and then up the stairs. At that moment, we felt like we were discovering a hidden gem of sorts. 

Upon entering, the intricate thought put into the design of the small room did not go unnoticed. The lights are dim and warm, but the bar is appropriately lit. There couldn’t have been more than five tables and a handful of barstools which explains why I couldn’t get a reservation last week. However, luckily for us, it was calmer than I had expected.

Okra tempur (Photos: Raja Attar/Jordan News)

After carefully studying the menu, my friend and I settled on edamame, ginger miso eggplant lokum, okra tempura, molokhiyeh with ponzu sesame, green miso chicken breast, the tuna katsu (house specialty), vegetable fried rice, a four-piece California roll, and a four-piece Yuku rock shrimp roll. While this might seem like a hefty order of food, bear in mind that Izakaya portions are usually smaller than those at a usual bar.

Naturally, the edamame was the first to arrive. We munched on the perfectly cooked and seasoned beans as we waited for the rest of the food. The second appetizer to come was the ginger miso eggplant lokum, five tiny cubes of soft and tender eggplant served with a ginger miso sauce. Although small in size, they delivered some big flavors. The ginger brought a bit of spice to the umami, which paired nicely with the delicate eggplant cubes.

House specialty, tuna katsu (Photos: Raja Attar/Jordan News) 

After a couple of appetizers, we found ourselves wanting more. Unfortunately for us, the other dishes took a while longer to come out. Thankfully, the okra tempura popped out of the kitchen just in time. The okra was super crisp and bought together by a soy-based sauce: another simple yet great appetizer.

The star of the show made an earlier-than-expected appearance. The tuna katsu. A piece of tender tuna fillet, appropriately breaded and fried, topped with a sweet and tangy sauce in between perfectly toasted bread. The tuna was delicious, and the flavor had an immaculate finish that did not taste murky at all. This dish alone is worth the trip to Izakaya if you haven’t visited them yet. 

California roll (Photos: Raja Attar/Jordan News)

Suddenly our table was being flooded with all these fantastic little dishes. We were thrilled to see the sushi finally arrive. The California roll tasted fresh; the touch of sesame seeds and orange caviar was an excellent touch. The yuzu rock shrimp sushi was even more impressive. The shrimp fried and rolled to perfection, topped with black caviar. Simply delicious.

Molokhiyeh with ponzu sesame(Photos: Raja Attar/Jordan News)

As we moved on from one dish to another, we agreed we both loved the vegetable fried rice, but I thought adding the rice vinegar was unnecessary. Then was the curveball dish of the evening, the molokhiyeh with ponzu sesame. Topped with crispy fried garlic, this reminded me of a similar dish served with spinach instead. This was a standout dish, and I highly recommend it. The sesame was very subtle, but the sauce at the bottom of the dish brought out the flavors of the molokhiyeh, while the garlic merged it all to a delicious flavor. 

Finally, the green miso chicken breast yakitori (skewers) arrived. The skewers sat on a bed of green miso sauce, topped with toasted sesame seeds, and were served with a wedge of lemon for extra zest. The green miso provided much-needed umami, while the toasted sesame seeds brought a rich nutty flavor. Although the chicken was appropriately cooked, I found it was slightly dry.

Izakaya offers a unique experience in Amman. I was thrilled to see the amount of care put into the quality of the food. The kitchen captured the essence of the authentic izakaya experience through their careful attention to detail. The staff was also extremely hospitable. All in all, it was a perfect little place for a date or to grab a drink with friends. Recommended!

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