Monday, January 14, 2008

LA Dining: Izayoi

I would have probably avoided Izayoi were it located in a similar environment in NYC, sharing the same block, as it does, with a Quizno's and an Office Depot in a new, rather poorly designed strip mall. However, this is LA and the strip mall happens to be in Little Tokyo. I have heard that even the Nobu in Malibu is situated in a strip mall so I suppose I should not judge a book by its cover.

The unassuming, spartan interior is comfortable but certainly won't win any design awards

Shrimp and Scallop Au Gratin macaroni

Izayoi is a " izakaya" style restaurant, offering Tapas style fare along with a full sushi bar. Of course this is Beef Aficionado and there is plenty on the menu to satisfy the carnivore.

Beef Sashimi

The Beef Sashimi was served in wrap form around lettuce, the beef was lightly seared and then finally sliced. It was not ultimately the most tender sashimi I have eaten, expectedly falling behind the Kobe Wagyu variations, but it was tasty enough.

Beef Tongue Steak

In Japan beef tongue is far more prized than it is in the West were it is often treated as a second rate lunch meat. Indeed in Japan they have restaurants that specialize in serving tongue, even going so far as to dry age it. After sampling the tongue at Izayoi my interest is seriously piqued as it was delicious. A sweet, sticky sauce forms a crunchy shell on the tongue which in contrast is very tender. The flesh itself is cooked through and has a consistency not unlike smoked brisket. This was a wonderful dish.

Beef liver

Another cut of beef that receives short thrift on Western menus these days is liver, again usually making its way in to lunch meats and hot dogs. At Izayoi liver is treated with more reverence and the results are delicious. The delicate, tender flesh virtually melts in ones mouth imparting a mineral rich flavor. I find it curious that gourmets will pay top dollar for Fois Gras but will avoid beef liver. The latter can offer an equally sumptuous experience as is evidenced by the offering at Izayoi.

Tempura ice cream

Izayoi, perhaps best known for its Sushi, which apparently has inspired a bit of a cult following, also offer some exciting and unique beef dishes at a reasonable price. Recommended.

132 S. Central Ave.
(bet. 1st & 2nd Sts.)
Los Angeles, CA

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