I wasn’t sure what to expect, but having recently dined at Izakaya for the very first time, I’d have to say I was pleasantly surprised.
It is part sushi bar, part hibachi grill and part traditional Japanese restaurant. And despite its location off busy 96th Street, it would be easy to drive past Izakaya a dozen times before realizing it’s even there. From the outside, it is mostly unremarkable, in large part owing to its location in a generic strip mall. But step inside and it’s easy to forget where you are. Indeed, they have done a good job insulating the restaurant’s interior from the mundane, outside world.
The first thing you notice upon stepping through the front door is a contemporary Japanese light fixture; evidence that someone cared about the “little things”…like first impressions.
Inside this dimly lit restaurant there are many other nice, aesthetic touches and my overall impression was that it had a well laid-out floor plan, with a good flow, not cramped in any way, with very comfortable seats and clean tables.
The staff was prompt and polite, and the service was not lacking in anyway. I should qualify these remarks by saying that the restaurant was nowhere near full capacity–i.e., there was no excuse for anything other than good service. How well a restaurant performs under more challenging conditions is perhaps a better measure of performance. But I digress.
My dinner companion and I kept it basic and started with an order of Edamame for an appetizer. It was steamed just right, and lightly seasoned with sea salt. The portion size was more than enough for two diners.
Then came the entrées. My dinner companion ordered à la carte, choosing Tuna (maguro), Shrimp (ebi), a Spicy Tuna Roll and a house special called the “Indy500”, which consists of shrimp tempura, avocado, top with Spicy crab, crumbs, and eel sauce. She was gracious enough to share a couple of her Indy500 rolls. I’m not big on sushi, but I could have eaten a dozen of these things, they were that tasty.
For my own main course I chose the Filet Mignon, medium rare with sautéed vegetables. A choice of soup or house salad came with it, so I chose the salad. My salad was a mix of fresh lettuce, shaved carrots, red cabbage and soy beans, all drizzled with a tasty ginger dressing. It was not particularly fancy, but then again, it was a house salad, so I was not expecting anything fancy. It was basic, but good.
When my entrée arrived, I was expecting a nice, thick filet mignon, but instead received small, bit-size chunks. But despite their small size, they were cooked as ordered. And in hindsight, there was a certain convenience to not having to use a knife to cut my steak. The vegetables were sautéed just right; still somewhat crisp, and definitely not soggy or overcooked. The rice too was perfectly prepared. On the whole, it was hard to find fault my entrée. I would have preferred a bit more steak, but then again, what 6’2″, 200-pound, non-vegetarian man wouldn’t?
Of course, this was just one experience, and I cannot speak for anyone other than myself. It’s much easier to deliver a quality product and good service during off-peak hours compared to, say, a Saturday night dinner rush. Consistent quality is important. As of now, I have a sample size of one. But what a sample it was. I would definitely go back to Izakaya in the future. The quality was there, and the prices were reasonable. I would recommend this restaurant to anyone with a taste for well-prepared Japanese food.
Other Izakaya Restaurant Photos
- 7325 E 96th St, Indianapolis, IN 46250
- Tel. 317-915-8988
Disclaimer: We do not accept money, free meals or any other form of compensation in exchange for reviews. All reviews are published solely for the benefit of our readers.