Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Turning Japanese with Curry at Izumi Sake Bar and Restaurant

Izumi Sake Bar and Restaurant goes all-out with its new menu additions, turning real Japanese with curry. Yup, you heard it right. Curry. 

And why curry? Many may not know it, but Japanese curry is actually the second most popular food item in Japan after ramen, enjoyed by all classes just about anywhere and any season. Japanese curry is generally milder and richer than other regional curries, making it an ideal pairing for a selection of meats, and absolutely perfect with rice. And with this insight,  Izumi's chef consultant, Chef Him Uy de Baron, recently designed a new curry-based menu featuring a variety of flavors and textures. For those familiar with Chef Him Uy de Baron's Nomama Artisanal Ramen, you can expect simple but bold flavors using the very best ingredients.

Situated at the Forbes Town Center at The Fort, Izumi Sake Bar and Restaurant resembles many of Tokyo's popular sake bars, small yet homey. 

Inside, the bar dominates the layout with its impressive display of premium sake. It's a cozy spot for a few drinks, and better yet, some real cool Japanese curry. A wall lined with sake bottles provides a dramatic backdrop for the steps leading to a private function room.

The curry feast begins with Izumi's Spicy Edamame, richly flavored and seasoned, and a great start to the coming feast.

Next, Soy Chicken and Mushroom Gyoza with House Curry, crisp dumplings with a savory chicken and mushroom filling on Izumi's House Curry, topped with strips of nori. The curry combo just adds a whole new dimension of flavor to this familiar starter, and immediately one can sense Chef Him's cool influence in Izumi's kitchen. Crisp, savory and a rich curry binds all the flavors and textures together in this starter.

The Umami Pasta, with thick cut bacon, cheese, shiitake with sake, fresh mentaiko and fish roe. Aptly named, Chef Him's Umami Pasta for Izumi's new menu is a unique and flavorful take on the usual pasta. There is a subtle sweetness that coats the pasta, and the richness of the bacon, cheese and fish roe completes the dish. Totally different and definitely new, this pasta dish is a must try.

Then, another of Chef Him's cool pasta arrives, the Seared Crusted Tuna with Mentaiko Pasta. The pasta dish has the same subtle sweetness as the previous dish, but topped with juicy seared tuna with a perfect pink center. There is a different kind of richness in the sauce that just works so well with the tuna and pasta, combining for yet another cool take on the usual pasta dish.

Chef Him's pasta dishes look deceptively simple, yet each dish brings subtle yet bold flavors that are surprising and different. Both dishes deliver Chef Him's philosophy on simple yet bold flavors using the finest and freshest ingredients.

then, the curry dishes arrived, starting with the Kurobuta Pork Fillet Tonkatsu with the classic House Curry Sauce. The richness of the curry enhances the tender pork fillet, a cool match with the tonkatsu's crisp texture. A meal in itself, the curry simply works well with the tonkatsu and the rice.

Next, Chef Him's Beef Stew Curry with Izumi's Dark Curry, a rich blend of curry and a touch of chocolate. The tender beef and mushrooms are delicately coated with the rich curry, and the hint of chocolate just adds a new twist and flavor, providing an unusual richness that also works quite well.

I was quite skeptical at first when Chef Him mentioned the addition of chocolate, but leave it to Chef Him to surprise you with some unexpected combinations of different flavors. Think mole sauce with a little heat from curry.

Japanese Salisbury Steak with House Curry, topped with egg and mushrooms. Again, the curry sauce works wonders with the dish, enhancing the richness of the egg and burger patty. Extra rice? Sure. Extra curry? Definitely.

We were then served another dish featuring one of Chef Him's curry versions, the Premium Seafood Furai with White Curry, with soft-shelled crab, scallops and salmon. Almost like a rich and creamy bechamel sauce, the White Curry is the perfect match for the breaded and crisp seafood.

With Izumi's new signature curry selection like the House Curry, Dark Curry, White Curry and Spicy Peanut Curry, you can create your very own curry dish by pairing it with Izumi's wide menu selection. Go for the House Curry, a proper introduction to Izumi's cool curry-based menu, with a neutral, subtle spice that pairs well with many of Izumi's meat dishes. The Spicy Peanut Curry has a little more kick, with more chili and sesame for flavor. If you're feeling adventurous and looking for something new, go for the Dark Curry, a cool blend of chili, apples, dark chocolate and three kinds of curry. And for something more creamy and subtle, go for the White Curry, best paired with Izumi's seafood dishes.

Once again, Chef Him pull off another cool surprise with his curry-based menu and unique pasta dishes for Izumi Sake Bar and Restaurant. Stop by for some cool sake, and some really cool new dishes, at Izumi Sake Bar and Restaurant. Subtle, yet bold flavors. Familiar, yet surprisingly different. Now that's cool.

Izumi Sake Bar and Restaurant is located at Forbes Town Center, 29th Street corner Rizal Drive, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig or call 856-4090 for inquiries.

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