Hidden away from the general public in the basement of a building lies Izayaka Den, an elusive and cosy restaurant that can easily be missed with it’s subtle sign on the outside and the long black curtains that hide the sliding doors.
Reflective of its very chic and cool name, Izayaka Den, as Japanese as it gets, there are no irasshaimase when you walk in. Instead you’re greeted with a long basement interior with a bar and the kitchen close at hand. The restaurant resembles a typical Japanese izakaya, which is translated to a Japanese-style pub with drinks and food. The staff greet you over blaring house music by getting you to your stool with a tray of oshibori towels and two rolled up menus, one with food and one with drinks. The service is impeccable, totally Japanese and totally worth the hype to visit.
Depending on where you’re seated, if you’re lucky to miss the peak hour and be seated opposite of the kitchen, you get to see your food be cooked in front of you by young bandana wearing chefs. The best part of the visit is that the prices are extremely reasonable with filling, but not overwhelming menu options. Izayaka Den has two menus: a menu in hand and a changing menu that flashes in the back over a projector in a collectedly cool atmosphere that have first comers ooh-ing and aah-ing with delight.
Drinks comes in all varieties in a classic Japanese style, from sake, shochu, umeshu to even freshly pressed juices, and the menu is irresistible with it’s broad range of steamed figs to sea trout to even black fried rice and ox tongue (yes you read right). The restaurant holds a sophisticated yet carefree air about it that is both classic Japanese with a modern twist that reflects the Melbourne city life.
Even down to the dessert that’s both sweet and yet still so modest, there’s something for everyone and anyone of all interests to enjoy. The green tea and white chocolate fondue with small squared cake pieces and frozen grapes adds the finishing touch that combines both Japanese and Melbourne cuisine into one that makes it delicious, but not cloying.
114 Russell Street Melbourne VIC 3000
Tel: +61 (03) 9654 2977
Open lunch Mon-Fri 12-2:30PM (bookings taken)
Dinner Mon-Sat 5:30PM til late (no bookings)