Rather than try and psyche Matt out by suggesting a restaurant he hasn’t been to (it’s virtually impossible) I thought instead to introduce him to one of my all-time favorite dishes at Zakkushi.
I’ve been to Zakkushi several times over the past few years. I think it’s actually the first Izakaya I had ever been to – that curious mix of being seemingly yelled at (I’ve since learned its traditional greeting) and allowing one’s self to have faith and simply order the pictured oddities with gusto. You really can’t go wrong.
We both had cocktails – under $5, which is more than reasonable. I had the sweet plum wine on ice; Matt had a fresh-squeezed grapefruit concoction. In the past I’d tried the umeboshi sour, which is actually just very … sour (though the giant spheres of gelatinous plum are fun to poke with a straw if you’re desperate for distraction). Matt appreciated the ‘thimble-shaped’ ice cubes; I must admit that I’m more of a chipped ice kind of lady – how can I be sure that the thimbles are not holding back drops of my drink? I don’t trust them.
Zakkushi’s main focus seems to be its wide variety of grilled skewers. If money and time were not a problem I’d think going balls-to-the-wall and just ordering one of every skewer would make for a good time. It’s hard to choose. Each order contains two skewers, and most are under $2.00. We went with the P-Toro (pork with lemon), Aspara Maki (asparagus wrapped with sliced pork), and my personal favorite, the Cheese Yaki (chicken thigh covered in cheese). The cheese skewers are especially glorious because of the unapologetic inclusion of processed cheese. I appreciate all cheese, and feel that the low-brow processed variety is skillfully used here. An order of Chicken Karaage ($4.80) provides the protein push – coated, boneless chicken pieces deep fried and served with a house-special horseradish sauce. I especially appreciate the boneless aspect; it’s stressful enough eating chicken wings in front of people, it’s even more so when chopsticks are involved. Problem solved.
And now, the reveal – my favorite dish. Kimchi Mentai Yaki Udon is pan-fried udon noodles with cod roe and kimchi ($7.80). Not something I would ever order myself, rather, it was introduced to me by some friends the first time I went to Zakkushi. I was so blown away by the creamy, mild fishiness of the roe combined with the spicy, pickled kick of the kimchi. I order this dish every time I come to Zakkushi and have made a point of trying it at other Izakayas as well. Typically I do not share, knowing I will resent those who are sitting at my table for inevitably having more than what I deem fair. Yes, I’m a selfish person and yes, it’s just that good. My only comment is that the portion seemed a little smaller than previous visits – perhaps it’s recessionary.
RF (Guest Blogger)
823 Denman Street