IZAYOI is a fairly new sushi/izakaya place opened by the former owner/chef of Sushi Ryo in Hollywood. We'd always been fans of Sushi Ryo's tradional-yet-open-to-new-things form of sushi and other items. Once I had some anago tempura there that was almost life changing. Anyway, we've been to Izayoi a few times and always enjoyed it just as much, but our last visit wasn't quite as satisfying.
I love the blonde wood sushi bar, the peaceful atomsphere and the staff- service is usually great. However, it took us about 15 minutes to get our hot sake (we're usually cold sake people but it was so coooolllld outside! We're wimpy LA people, remember?) and I had to ask for it twice. Once it arrived, it was so boiling hot that it made me think of that woman who sued McDonald's and won for the coffee being so hot it burned her lip or something. Not that I would ever sue for such a ludicrous reason, but damn, was it hot.
We started off with salmon sushi, which was good. The aji (spanish mackeral) was good but the texture was on the crunchy side- a theme that would permeate most of the sushi tonight. Even though the hamachi looked buttery and laden with belly fat, we got that same crunchy texture that just wasn't so....pleasing. It tasted fine, but you'd expect that texture from ika (squid) or tako (octopus), not hamachi (yellowtail).
The kitchen items were better- we had the ginadara (black cod marinated in sake/miso) which was melt-in-your-mouth good. When I saw seafood cream coroquette on the menu, I almost shouted out an order- they are my favorite and I hardly ever see them on any menu here in the states. I had found it at another Little Tokyo place about a year ago, but their version was awful. So, I was excited. When four, perfectly golden brown balls came to our counter with some tonkastu dipping sauce, I was thrilled. I bit into one and the crunchy panko-encrusted outside broke to reveal a creamy and hot center containing a good amount of real, shredded crabmeat. I was in love. It's the ultimate Japanese comfort food.
Our last kitchen item was not so great- shrimp shumai. They were oversteamed (in the microwave) so the skins became tough and chewy. I could tell they were homemade shumai and would have been so good had they been steamed properly. We finished off with a salmon skin roll which tasted ok....but mostly of overly charred skin.
I must admit- I was really surprised that Izayoi seemed so off. I am sure it was an off night, and I simply can't forget all of the wonderful experienes I have had at both Sushi Ryo and Izayoi in the past. I will definitely be back, and am pretty confident that they will find themselves back in my happy place!
Click on link below to see photos.