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♡ make me hot buttery popcornandtoast@gmail.com

Izakaya Den; Melbourne CBD.

Izakaya Den
114 Russell Street
Melbourne

link: izakayaden.com.au

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It took a lunch at Nama Nama to remind me I needed to find my way back to Izakaya Den pronto. One of my absolute favourite haunts back when it first opened up. With its no bookings policy, it was perfect for unplanned drinks & bites. I was looking forward to some of my old favourites - that clean fresh housemade bean curd, the gorgeously marbled wagyu. 

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Izakaya Den is dark and mysterious, tucked underground, revealing long generous black counters. On one end - the myriad of tall drinks are stirred & shaken before you, and in the middle section, the meats are charcoal grilled right across from you. And let me tell you the ventilation is flawless. Simple quality japanese tapas bites & the drinks list spans over two scrolls. 

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Nettai Nippon - Passionfruit, Fresh Lime, Basil, Shiso, Dash Tabasco, Yakult ($12)

I’m particularly taken by their cocktail selection for two key reasons - it’s very fresh and it has a japanese twist. The Sake Mojito was toying with me, but in the end I decided to bypass the poisons and went for the Nettai Nippon without the Havana Riserva ($19). Icy & fresh with crunchy passionfruit seeds.

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Spicy Tuna Tataki, Garlic & Soy ($19)

There were plenty on the menu that remained familiar. I recall thicker taller squares, but the tuna was cool & fresh seated on little pools of creaminess. 

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Japanese Omelette with Cod Roe ($12)

Drawn to the cod roe, smooth creaminess nestled in the middle of these fresh silky layers of egg. I requested for some wasabi for a little kick to the dish.

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Lamb Loin & Nori Kushiyaki ($14)

I recalled the Kurobuta Pork Belly to be thick generous slabs on skewers, lightly grilled and not sticky & caramelly. So I opted for these juicy barely pink lamb loins wrapped around nori, with a side of crunchy long beans. I noticed that the pork belly dish has evolved and I look forward to trying it on my next visit.

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Sher Wagyu Grade 8 Porterhouse ($33)

My absolute must have. I had hoped for the familiar okra, but the slightly acidic cauliflower was clean and fresh on the palate. A good accompaniment for the rich beautifully marbled wagyu slices, served with a tangy ponzu & sea salt.

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Warm Tofu Cake, Brown Sugar Ice Cream ($12)

The salted caramel fondue for two was incredibly tempting with frozen grapes but chocolate & cheese fondues are sinful enough for me.

The tofu cake mimicked beancurd, with the same lightness, yet still quite dense and satisfying.  As a mouthful with the brown sugar ice cream, it’s almost a souffle-like bite with flavours that exude warmth, and had me going back for more. Topped with walnuts.

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Apple Millefeuille ($12)

Intrigued by the sight of this a few counters over, it’s essentially white icy apple sorbet, separated by thin crackly dried stewed apple slices, and drizzled with golden honey.

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