Izakaya

I might be showing my age here but there wasn't always anywhere decent to eat on Castle Street. It used to be just another road in the blank, beige business district of my youth, a road I'd only go down on my way down to somewhere much more exciting (Burger King). Now that I'm a technically a grown up I've realised Castle St is not only beautiful, it's also home to some of the absolute best spots in the city. I'm talking about the likes of  my beloved Bacaro, Santa Maluco, Mowgli and Neighbourhood
Look carefully in between these giants and you'll find the tiny, unassuming and effortlessly chic Izakaya.





Let me clear from the offset here, this place is built for speedy sushi lunches, business meetings and evening drinks with nibbles. My (admittedly ludicrous) attitude to lunching for hours didn't quite fit in with the vibe here and despite ordering half of the menu I still think we were in there less than an hour.


So it was a quick lunch, yes, but the food certainly wasn't sub-par. After settling in with drinks and a rather haphazard menu selection, plate after plate of summery, Japanese-inspired goodness came swooshing out of the kitchen, each one more colourful than the last.


 

We started with the Pork Gyoza (£7) which were light and crispy and served with a lip-smacking dipping sauce that I mopped clean from the bowl. The Karaage Chicken (£8) managed to overhaul my favourite fast-food treat, replacing the stodge of fried chicken with zingy lime, mayo and heaps of spring onions. Likewise, a plate of  Tempura Prawns (£7.50) was bright and fresh and managed to give me all the joy of deep fried food without any of the grease. Whilst I enjoyed the Pork Belly Bao (£6.50), the bun could have been softer, although it's more sturdy nature did well to contain the soft meat, spicy sauce, cabbage and crispy shallots bursting out from the insides.  



Whilst my first taste of Duck Sushi (£6.50) gave me a few kicks, I'd be lying if I said it wasn't immediately forgotten about upon the arrival of the legendary Izakaya Katsu (£11) .Thankfully it completely lived up to expectations. Crispy panko chicken nestled in between piles of pickles, crunchy onions and cabbage in a puddle of sticky rice and thick curry sauce. I'd say it's worth a trip for that alone- it's more than enough to be your entire meal.



Like the brand, the food at Izakaya is well thought out, sophisticated and modern and I'm not sure you can get anything quite like it anywhere else in the city. Granted, it's not the place for a long drawn-out dinner if that's your thing, but if I worked near here it'd definitely be high on my lunch list.
If you fancy trying out Izakaya in a more relaxed setting, they'll be setting up a second home in the new Dockside Dining Club opening  up a bit later this summer!
x

Side Note: We booked this meal through the Which Menu app which is definitely worth a download if you like eating out as much as I do!





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