Sunday, June 14, 2015

Fun and Funky Japanese Dinner

Have you ever heard of izakaya restaurants? I hadn't. They are sort of like a Japanese tapas restaurant in that you order a few small plates at a time over several rounds. Last night we went with some friends to Daikaya Izakaya in Washington, DC and it was phenomenal!

Terrible lighting; great friends

The atmosphere in Dikaya Izakaya is funky and cool--totally befitting the type of food and drinks they serve. Dishes were weird, sometimes scary, but always absolutely delicious. Between Dan and I, we ate six small plates plus a dessert. I was pleasantly full, but not stuffed.

We started our culinary tour with some drinks. Now, this is a nice place, so when we saw sake bombs on the menu, we were sure there was some twist. Sure enough, it was a mixture of Japanese beer and ginger beer with a sphere of sake that exploded when it hit your tongue. Much less messy than the traditional version. It was too gingery for me, but it was a cool concept.

Our first round of food brought a salt-grilled mackerel with grated chili and daikon, and a crazy dish called chawanmushi that was one of my favorites of the evening. Chawanmushi is a steamed egg and dashi custard with shiitake mushroom sauce and parmesan cheese. The texture was incredible--almost like a panna cotta. Very smooth and creamy. The mushrooms lent tons of umami to the dish while the parmesan added the perfect amount of salt. I could have eaten five of these dishes.


Next we had the grilled avocado and tuna poke. The avocado was so simple and so perfect. The poke was really interesting too. It had big chunks of macadamia nuts, bits of seaweed and was drizzled with sesame oil. I loved it.

Here's the sign of a great restaurant. Based on online reviews, our friends ordered the pork and Brussels sprouts skewers, which they said were every bit as delicious as promised. When we told the waiter we don't eat pork, he brought us a new vegetarian menu and told us about each item that could be made into a veggie version. We ordered the Brussels sprouts minus the pork, and they absolutely lived up to the hype. So good!

Our last savory dish was one of my favorites of the night: the cod roe spaghetti. I was pretty scared of this one, but thought I'd give it a try. It was perfect. Creamy, salty, a little crunchy from the roe---just really complex and interesting.

Often the fancier the restaurant, the more disappointing the dessert. For someone with a huge sweet tooth like mine, that's not a great end to an evening. Thankfully, Dikaya Izakaya did not fall into that trap. Our chocolate ice cream with miso-banana caramel was the perfect end to the meal.

Chocolate ice cream with Japanese custard in the background


  1. Hi from Serbia, your blog reminds me to visit Singapour.

    1. Hi! Thanks for reading! I haven't been to Serbia yet, but I'd love to go one day. And you should absolutely go to Singapore. It's a really fun country!