What: Izayaka Den
Where: 1487-A South Pearl Street
What to get: Their cocktail list includes fresh oriental ingredients. Try the bourbon based, Colorado Pride filled “Red Rocks” drink.
Izakaya Den has already established itself as a South Pearl staple for Japanese fusion food. As Toshi Kizaki’s second restaurant (the first is the famous Sushi Den, located next door), Izakaya Den blends traditional Japanese cuisine with new age ingredients and international flavors. Now Toshi Kizaki is looking to expand Izakaya Den’s already impressive interior design with “Ten Qoo”, the restaurant’s new cocktail lounge located on the second floor.
Ten Qoo offers an open floor plan and is filled with oriental plants, rock gardens and décor. The room has a breezy, open feel that relaxes you the moment that you walk in. The cocktail list mirrors this mindset by featuring light, citrusy options. The Red Rocks cocktail features Breck Bourbon, Sweet vermouth, Black Raspberry, OJ and Orange Bitters. The drink mixes the hearty flavor of bourbon with sweet berry and orange flavors, making the drink a perfect choice to go with the Japanese fusion fare. The Gion District cocktail blends Sky Blood Orange Vodka, Sky Ginger Vodka, Asian 5 Spice Syrup, and Fresh lemon juice and also provides a sweet, but not too sweet option to accompany their hearty menu.
Izakaya Den boasts a Japanese/Izakaya style menu and includes a contemporary take on traditional Japanese dishes. The Japanese Style Pork Belly is their slow braised pork belly in a soy broth. This brings a Japanese twist to meat that is not normally associated with that food culture in America. It was delicious, perfectly cooked and packed powerful flavor. Toshi Kizaki’s take on traditional sushi also does not disappoint. Their California Rolls and Spicy Tuna Rolls reminded me of traditional rolls but still matched Izakaya Den’s style of modern delicacy.
We also tried their Rice Cake accompanied with wasabi. It was delectable but a bit messy if you are new at chopsticks. Since I normally write 303 Magazine’s Table for Two articles (see here), I also keep date nights in mind, so I will leave you with a warning: brush up on your chop stick skills before taking a date here, so you don’t leave with your dinner in your lap.
Izakaya Den is the perfect spot for after work drinks and small, filling plates with a ton of flavor. With its open floor plan and retractable roof, it truly feels like an escape from the claustrophobic atmosphere that the city scene can bring. “Izakaya” literally means “a Sake House with small plates” and are found all over Japan. So next time you need to let loose after a long day of work, instead of planning your trip overseas, just head to South Pearl and pull up a seat at Izakaya Den’s “Ten Qoo”.