|Izakaya Den, Russell Street, Melbourne|
The first thing I noticed was the incredibly long room – but it was wishful thinking. The illusion is created by a mirror at the end of the room which appears to double the length of the room – what a fabulous space that would be, not to say that it isn’t currently.
The soft lighting is perfect: not so dim that you can’t see your date or menu, but neither bright enough to really read a book.
|Izakaya Den menu|
|Buchi Mojito (left) and Amai Mitsu (right)|
The Amai Mitsu is a stronger drink of sake, Aperol and 42 Below honey vodka, eased with fresh orange and honey syrup. Both drinks are made promptly by the barman directly in front of us, and presented somewhat ceremoniously before us.
|Spicy tuna special|
The circle of tuna showcases raw diced tuna and avocado amid a wasabi-spiced mayonnaise dressing. My favourite side item was the seaweed, rolling with tuna to form tuna-seaweed cigarettes, which were then crunched through to the perfectly hot, creamy and so-fresh mixture inside.
The daikon was also great, adding a touch of freshness although the pink peppercorns seemed to have more bite than the spicy tuna. The taro chips were not as exciting, but another texture for us to play with nonetheless.
|Sakata-coated prawns with citrus mayonnaise|
Served with a very subtle citrus mayonnaise, these crustaceans are cooked to a crisp perfection, putting smiles on our faces and a crunch in our mouths.
|Ox tongue, spring onion|
It was hard not to think about an ox’s face as I was eating this, especially with someone egging me on. I liked the char flavours on the surface of the slices, but think it could have either done with more time on the grill or come in thinner slices for greater ease of eating. It could also come with more spring onion topping or other garnishes as a further distraction from the ox-tonguing and for the offal-averse.
|Beetroot with mushroom|
|Grilled white asparagus, miso crumb|
|White sesame mousse with tapioca|
It came with the tapioca balls that one gets in Asian pearl milk teas and had a smushy, sweetened red bean centre. There was also a drizzle of honey for added sweetness to the rather refreshing dessert, if not the prettiest, served in a stunning glass dish.
Given the late hour of our dining, there were no longer waiting diners after dessert and just a general convivial air. Everyone there looked to be enjoying themselves; amongst themselves but contributing to the overall laidback atmosphere that encouraged us to hide down in Izakaya Den just a little longer.