Izakaya – Japanese Bar Food

The heart and soul of Japan's food culture

By Sara Schwarz
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Izakaya – Japanese Bar Food

Izakaya – Japanese Bar Food [©Hardie Grant]


All across Japan you will find izakayas, small bars where tasty snacks are enjoyed alongside beer and sake. These are a place to relax, catch up with friends and where you’ll be guaranteed a warm welcome from the staff.

These bars, many have been around for centuries, are similar to the tapas bars of Spain. They are a place where locals catch up while the food, beer, sake and shochu flows easily and constantly.

For those who’ve travelled to Japan, Izakaya (‘i’ to sit and ‘sakaya’ sake shop) will bring back fond memories of long evenings whiled away in small bars making new friends and indulging in new flavours and possibly a little too much of Japan’s finest alcoholic beverages.

Each izakaya specialises in one dish, however a range of regional, traditional and specialist dishes will be on offer. The recipes within Izakaya are a collection of simple and flavoursome recipes that can easily be made at home here in Australia, as long as you have access to a decent Asian grocery store. A handy glossary in the back explains any food terms you may not have come across before.

Given these are meals to be enjoyed with beer and sake, you’ll find a number of salty, fried recipes within. This may seem strange to those who’ve only enjoyed sushi and sashimi style Japanese cooking but once devoured on a cold Tokyo night with a warm sake in hand, the appeal of these dishes soon becomes apparent. The batter used in Japanese cooking is also so much lighter (and tastier!) than its Western counterparts and, like me, you’ll be addicted for life.

For the warmer months, Izakaya offers a range of light and flavoursome salad style recipes, so you're covered all year round.

Izakaya is a great introduction to the world of Japanese bar food. If you haven’t been to Japan, the images alone in this colourful compendium will be enough to send you online to check out airfares. For those who have explored the side streets of Japan’s cities, both big and small, Izakaya will have you yearning to head back.

These recipes are made for sharing, so next time friends are dropping around, grab some Kirin or Asahi beer and whip up a selection from within.


Izakaya is published by Hardie Grant Books (2011 PB RRP $34.95 and $17.50 for the eBook). Subscribers of VisitVineyards.com and Winepros Archive can purchase Izakaya at 12.5% discount via our book partners Seekbooks (postage extra).

Izakaya is also available via Booko here »


  • japan-all (JP)

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October 06th, 2011
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