KATHMANDU: Among many restaurants in Thamel, there lies a cozy eatery—Tokyo Izakaya—that serves you traditional Japanese dishes. Tokyo Izakaya also serves different Chinese, continental dishes and is planning to soon launch Korean cuisines. The interiors and playlists at Tokyo Izakaya have Japanese influence with a contemporary touch. Same goes for its seating arrangements; it has both usual table-chair combo and traditional Japanese style, where you can sit cross-legged or sit in seiza.
Anil Lama has been working for Tokyo Izakaya for last three years. Earlier, he was in India for six years taking training and cooking Japanese food. He also has some Korean influence in his cooking.
Foods to try
Tokyo Izakaya has a custom to welcome each of its customers with a drink and small servings of food like Goma-ae, boiled spinach marinated with sesame seed sauce (the dish may vary on different days).
For appetizers, Yakitori (top photo) and Tori No Kara-age (bottom photo) are popular choices. Both are chicken leg pieces, but cooked differently. Yakitori consists of pieces of grilled chicken on a stick, dressed in previously made sauce (soy sauce, salt and sake) and white sesame seeds. With each bite, you can taste the saltiness of the sauce and softness of the meat. Tori No Kara-age is deep-fried chicken bits mixed with spices and corn flour beforehand. The meat is soft and can be a choice to start your meal.
Sushis are must if you want to eat Japanese. It's their traditional food and you can get a variety of Sushis at Tokyo Izakaya. The basic ingredient is boiled Japanese rice mixed with vinegar, salt and sugar. The sushi is generally served with raw fish, but Salmon Skin Maki Roll is one dish where they fry the salmon skin and use it as a filling with cucumber, while the seaweed is rolled inside, as opposed to being wrapped outside. The plate comes with slices of sushi in mayonnaise sauce, red ginger and salad. Every piece is a mouthful and if you dip it in the (soy) sauce and add wasabi, the taste accentuates. This particular sushi will serve the Nepali palate more and will be a good choice for first timers.
The set is a well-balance meal with a rice bowl, chicken, miso soup, kimchi, red ginger (which gets the color after sliced ginger being dipped in beetroot juice) and salad. You can enjoy each in different spoons or mix everything and eat a spoonful; some would recommend the latter. The chicken is cooked same as Yakitori. You can also add kimchi to taste.
New taste in Kimchi
It is kimchi and stir-fried with pork pieces served hot. They make their own kimchi, which is fermented pieces of Chinese cabbage, Korean chilli and radish, layered in a paste of ginger, garlic and spices. The taste of kimchi does not change after being cooked and will appeal to Nepali taste too.
How to get there: As you reach Narsingh Chowk, take a right and about 100 meters ahead, you will see a board by the name on your left. You need to go through a small alley-like pavement that leads to the restaurant.