Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Daikaya Izakaya - Stairway to Umami!

Daikaya Izakay (upstairs)
705 6th St., N.W.
Washington, DC 20001


Out of the blue on a Friday morning my friend Mike Pentacost, who I haven't seen in 17 years, called me, said he was in town, and asked if I had time to go grab a beer. I said no, let's get dinner! I've been meaning to try this place out downtown called Daikaya Izakaya. He was game, so we went! It started out with a cocktail at one of my favorite places in DC, Graffiato, an Empire State of Mind, natch. When our reservation time rolled around we walked up the stairs to the Izakaya.

 We asked the server to order for us, as I like to do, and he came back with two Sake Bombs. This is beer with an encapsulated shot of Sake for those of you who haven't already read a review of the restaurant. It is a pleasant ice breaker and sets the stage. It also hearkens back to Exec Chef Katsuya's days at minibar.
 The food started showing up pretty shortly thereafter. This is the Mizuna Salad. Burrata, tomatoes and dashi gelee. Pretty and light.
This is the Tuna Poke. Basically chunks of raw tuna with seaweed and pine nuts. This was the dish were I found that my dining companion was allergic to nuts. More for me!
This is the Cucumber Salad. Not as phallic as the very penile lamb dish at Rasika West End, but only because it was made of cucumber. 
This is the Wasabi Octopus. Little pieces of everything chopped up and tossed in a nice olive oil...some little wasabi sprouts, apples. Nice. 
Grilled Rappahanock Oysters with Sake and Oyster Salt. Interesting.
The Of Hearth and Home. I liked this a lot. Rye, Anise, some nice bitters. Very tasty.
Edamame with garlic, EVO, lemon, and chili. A thoughtful spin on a classic.
This dish, this little un-assuming plate, was the winner of the evening. Egg 3 Ways. It was a special. Even if you just stop by, order one of these at the bar, and don't have anything else, you'll be a happy person. It was an Onsen egg, which is cooked to about 70 degrees, uni, and house-cured salmon roe along with some house-aged ponzu. This dish was one of the most savory, umami-tasting things I've ever eaten. The balance was perfect. 
It may not look that stunning, but it tasted like heaven.

The grilled avocado.  An interesting presentation. I may have to try this at home. It had fresh wasabi, ponzu, and nori salt. 
These were tasty little buggers...Crab Croquettes. The Tonkatsu sauce added a nice touch to the familiar Old Bay seasoning.

2nd favorite dish of the evening: Bacon wrapped enoki mushrooms. Very nicely done. Good bacon too!
Nice presentation and flavors, but for this one to rank it would have to be cooked a bit longer. I like my quail falling off the bone and this one was a little tough. 
These were the pork belly and brussels sprout skewers...fav dish #3.Definitely worth a shot. 

Overall impression? A fun place to go and get some unique items, or at least they were unique enough that I haven't had anything like them, and I do some eating around. 
It's architecturally creative, it's got a rock and roll vibe, and there are some very cool customers working there. Service was always right there and we wanted for nothing.
Next time you're down in Penn Quarter stop in. Say hi to Katsuya and James for me. Tell them you read about it on Pleasures of the Table. 
Daikaya on Urbanspoon

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