From the outside, Izakaya Izu (9 E. 13th St, NYC 10003) looks like a sake lover’s wet dream. The windows are stacked high with glowing sake bottles lit from below. The extensive sake menu is proudly displayed by the front door. Everything seems in order, but cracks in the surface of this sake wonderland start to show once you step inside.
Ok, Thai Food on the menu should have been the first warning sign that this place has a deep-seated identity crisis. Well, now that I think about it, any true Izakaya wouldn’t offer sushi either. Well, what about that great big expansive sake menu? You guessed it… for half the sakes the poor waitress had to say, “Sorry, we’re out of that one. we really should update our menu.” ugh!
They did have one nama in stock, so I thought that might turn things around. We ordered the the Hachitsuru Nama. I knew I’d had this sake recently, but the details escaped me. I was suprise to see the sake arrive in a $2 paint bucket like you would get at the hardware store. Also, the sake was served in boring old shot glasses.
After a few sips I realized the last time I tried Hachitsuru Junmai Nama, it was OK but didn’t knock my socks off. This would be a good chance to try it again under different circumstances and gauge my reaction the second time around. Honestly, it was much the same. This is a junmai nama that leaves me a little flat. The tastes it does come at you with are a little milky and not balanced or nuanced.
Also, it doesn’t have that fresh-alive punch that you can get from Namas. Most namas are just sooo good, and there are so many good ones out there, it really doesn’t make sense to spend your time on a mediocre one.
Well, The stars just weren’t aligned for sake success last night. However, the evening wasn’t a total loss as i learned a valuable lesson. If I ever again find myself an Izakaya that serves Thai food – I’m out of there faster than you can say ‘peaunt sauce’.