Friday, December 18, 2015

Izakaya Unveils their New Cocktail Menu

Izakaya is a Japanese pub located at 318 Gray St in the Fourth Ward of Midtown Houston. The newest of the Azuma Group’s restaurants, this latest offering features a more globally influenced style of cuisine by Chefs Jean-Philippe Gaston and Manubu Horiuchi. The innovative fare lends itself to tapas style sharing. Even with the impressive men behind the menu, the drinks are just as important as the food at this establishment.

At a recent media event, I tasted some of the new features on the cocktail menu along with some of the signature dishes. The mixed drinks were all interesting putting an Asian spin on some cocktail classics. These new beverage additions were both refreshing and deliciously complementary with the food. The new line-up includes the Kitsune Highball, a mix of whiskey, Meyer lemon cordial, white pepper and soda. The name kitsune translates to fox which is often depicted as a magical being in Japanese folklore. My husband particularly enjoyed the surprising spicy finish on this one. I was torn between their version of the gin and tonic called the Tiger's Cup, a refreshing blend of Old Tom Gin, Shishito, lemon, sea salt and tonic and the spa water lightness of the Sleeping
Lotus Cocktail, a smooth mix of sake, Cocchi Americano and Salers with a cucumber floating on top. They were also showcasing a hot cocktail called A Night in Hokkaido which is a concoction of  sesame-infused whiskey, hot sake, honey and clove. This twist on the classic Hot Toddy was an improvement on the drink to my tastes and a favorite of many coming in out of the cold that evening. The drinks are all priced from $10-11.

Some of the more inspired dishes of the evening included the Tofu Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, a crispy tofu skin stuffed with cheese, onion and crunchy shirasu and the house-made venison sausage and Texas antelope meatballs. We also enjoyed the Vuelve A La Vida, a mix of scallop, shrimp, octopus, red onions, garlic, avocado, yuzu hot sauce and sea salt and the Negma chicken skewers with green onions.

The casual yet hip Izakaya is a great addition to the multi-cultural cuisine of Midtown. Reservations are recommended as both the restaurant and the bar stayed full all evening.

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