114 Russell St, Melbourne(Ph) 9654 2977
I had come to Izakaya Den a while ago, remembering it was very difficult to find the entrance!
There's no sign on Russell Street but you go down this flight of stairs, but don't go down too far or you'll end up in this boutique, which on this night was actually a ladies charity function.
If you turn left at the first landing you'll find this glass door and a black curtain behind it. Very hidden and random if you don't know about it!
They only take bookings for big groups and we were only a group of 4 so I thought we'd have to wait a while but lucky we came early (6pm) and got a table straight away =) The waitress placed 2 rolls on the table - the larger one is actually the drinks menu, while the smaller one is the food menu consisting of small, chargrilled, cold, hot and sweet dishes.
Cute water glasses and a warm towel to wipe your hands - feels very high class =)
We weren't too keen on the drinks but decided to share a few dishes. I remember the Sweet corn "kaki-age" $9 from my last visit here.
Definitely the best dish on the menu! Balls of corn deep fried together into a fritter and dipped in green tea salt - amazingly delicious =) we all loved it so much we got a 2nd one of this!
Their deep fried dishes are definitely recommended - next was the Den fried chicken $11
Marinated deep fried chicken dipped in Kewpie mayo (or was it homemade?) Surprisingly they were quite generous with this dish =)
How can you come to a Japanese restaurant without ordering some sashimi. We went for the Salmon sashimi, yuzu vinaigrette $17
This was a bit disappointing - quite expensive for such a small dish! It was more like a ceviche but I didn't think it was anything too special.
For the meats we went for Gotzinger Berkshire pork sausage $14
Gotzinger is actually a European smallgoods supplier and deli based in Queensland, they used to only supply to 5 star hotels and resorts around Australia but now have expanded to retail. These Berkshire sausages really reminds me of German sausages with the sauerkraut and mustard - felt like it really lacked some bread of some sort but I guess it is a small dish?
The Kurobuta pork belly $19 was recommended so we ordered it
But it was a bit of a disappointment - firstly, only 4 tiny pieces of pork belly? The pork was a bit dry and lacked the fattiness and juiciness you would normally expect in pork belly =(
We also got the Ox tongue, spring onion $15
They were a bit more generous with this - the ox tongue was nicely grilled and marinated, slightly chewy each with a small paste of spring onion mashed up.
One last savoury dish was the Baked wild barramundi fillet, coconut miso $21
This took a while to come out, looks quite fancy but didn't taste as good as it looks. Inside the bamboo leaves the barramundi meat was a bit too soft and mushy with the coconut sauce.
We just decided to get one dessert to share - heard the Apple Millefeuille $12 was good
It's like a tower of apple chips and apple sorbet - looks very fancy and pretty =) the apple sorbet was very cold and tangy it hurt our teeth to eat it! The apple chips got a bit soft placed against the sorbet which was a bit of shame =(
7.5/10 - definitely come here for the fried foods especially the sweet corn kaki-age! <3
4/5 - very unique atmosphere eating in a basement restaurant, would have been nicer if our seats had backs though =P
4/5 - quite good service, I like the little gestures like a hand towel when we sat down =)