I’ve put off writing about the Izakaya for a long time. It is, and has long been, one of my favourite places to eat and drink in Dublin. And I really don’t want you going there.
During a rather intoxicating dream last year, where I spent a month falling in love with everything about Japan, I drank sake and ate nearly-still-alive sashimi from beautiful baskets in the izakayas – basically, Japanese pubs that are easily identified by the pretty red lanterns inside.
The Yamamori Izakaya is just across the road from the Yamamori restaurant on George’s Street. The downstairs section, which quite faithfully recreates a Japanese drinking house, is really special; I haven’t even been bothered setting foot upstairs.
The Yamamori Izakaya serves what we’ve come to call “tapas-style” food as a lazy shorthand (even more irksome is that they’re calling them “Japas”). Spain doesn’t have a monopoly on small courses served with drink; Japanese izakayas have always served a succession of small or medium sized courses, which are enjoyed with beers over the course of an evening.
Tapas are meant to be an option with drinks, whereas there are tonnes of “tapas restaurants” in Ireland where you’d be booted out if you didn’t order food. Not so in the izakaya – go there for a few drinks, have a few (excellent) cocktails or some Japanese whiskies, and get a few small or big dishes if you want. There’s a cracking atmosphere and always a few good tunes, but no pressure to get food if you don’t want it.
I, however, always want it. The izakaya’s sushi is rather exceptional by virtue of the unusual lightness of the rice and the freshness of the fish. I’m fond of sushi, but the Izakaya’s offering is turning me into one of those annoying sushi nuts. I’ve also had the duck spring rolls, the yasai veg gyoza and the pork gyoza (grilled dumplings), sweet potato wedges, and the norimaki sushi – all of which made me very happy. Less appealing was the rather unpleasant, cold, sour, monkfish option – since replaced with a newer citrus fried monkfish dish accompanied by seasonal veg – and the soya burger, which I found rather plain and ordinary.
Another tempting menu option is the delicious Izakaya burger (pork and beef patty with a distinctive Japanese sauce) and a beer for €9.95.
Prices: €30 for five dishes, €25 for four, €19 for three. Five dishes is more than enough for two people to share. Not bad value at all and a lovely way to spend an evening.
So far, the Izakaya is rarely too jammed, so punters can usually get a seat. So, if you wouldn’t mind, please forget you read this review and don’t visit the Izakaya – if I find you in my seat, on my recommendation, I promise to ruin your dinner.
Have you tried the izakaya? Will you please leave, now? Thanks.