What’s up, everyone! Today we’re going to be talking about a special type of Japanese restaurant that you can visit right here in Korea called Izakaya. Now before we go any deeper, Izakayas are known as places for drinking alcohol (usually open during the evening), so readers please be advised that we do not condone underage drinking. J
Recently we went to Gangnam, one of the most populated cities in Seoul, and went to an Izakaya for some delicious Japanese dishes and a couple of drinks. These places, as mentioned before, are Japanese pubs and are places that mainly attract people after work hours. Similar to Japan, Izakayas are scattered everywhere in Korea. It has become so popular that it quickly became a part of Korea’s culture.
When someone mentions the word “drink” in Korea, the immediate answer that one would think of is soju. But soju is not the drink that comes to mind when the main topic of the conversation is about Japan. Japan is known for their beer and sake (pronounced sakeh). Many of you know what beer is, but may not particularly know what sake is.
Sake is a national alcohol beverage in Japan that is made from fermented rice. It is transparent, noncarbonated, and usually has an alcohol percentage under 20%. It can be served hot or cold in a bottle almost the shape of a round beaker used in science class. This is not like a shot of vodka or whiskey. Sake is normally enjoyed in sips. But you can chug it down if that’s your thing. Sake is created by fermenting rice and water with koji, otherwise known as aspergillus oryze (a crucial ingredient in the process). Sake is at the top of the list of drinks when it comes to Japan.
We mentioned before that Izakayas are usually open during the evening, but most Izakayas now are open during the day as well. Japanese Izakayas are actually a fusion between a restaurant and a bar. Most people aren’t aware of this fact. These are places where diners can also enjoy a nice glass of cold beer along with their delicious Japanese cuisine. What are these tasty Japanese dishes you ask? There are typical dishes in Izakayas that we know of and we’ll introduce you to some.
Common Dishes in Izakaya
One of them is yakitori. A yakitori is basically meat skewers. There are, of course, different kinds of yakitori. Some are just original meat skewers and some are roasted with sauce. The amount that is served is probably not enough to fill your stomach, but they do make good side dishes for your drink.
Another is tamagoyaki, which is Japanese-style omelets. This cuisine made from just eggs are absolutely beautiful. The moment you lay your eyes on them, you’ll hesitate on eating them because they look so magnificent. The texture is soft and they tend to be on the sweet side so it can get pretty addictive.
Then they also have a pancake looking dish called okonomiyaki, which is one of our favorites. They contain a variety of ingredients, mainly cabbage. After grilling the okonomiyaki, they finish it by adding soy sauce, mayonnaise, and other toppings. We highly suggest ordering one as a side dish for your night.
Kara-age is another famous dish in an Izakaya. They look like your average boneless fried chicken, and they are. But eating some chicken with beer in a nice environment somehow makes it taste even better. Also, Korea is known for their popular culture with the chicken and beer combo so it will definitely not disappoint.
These are only a few out of a long list of delicious cuisines that are served in an Izakaya. Now onto the adult drinks: alcohol. Western cocktails and other types of alcohol, such as vodka and whiskey, aren’t usually served here. Instead, there are a ton of eastern drinks like sake or soju (sold mainly in Korea and not Japan). Whatever type of drink you choose, it will be perfect for the dishes that are served in an Izakaya.
You might be planning on taking a trip to Korea, but your budget may not allow you to actually go to Japan as well. Worry not, because you can always visit an Izakaya to satisfy your need for a delicious Japanese dish.