Guam Diner Bytes: Izaka-ya Jimmy
Dear Guam Food Guy readers,
This week, a look back in the archives from some gems that are still going strong. Up first, Izaka-ya By Jimmy. Read the sign: "Relax And Enjoy Yourself."
That's the rule of the house and you must obey or be miserable! Talk about a fun place where you can just sit back after a hard day's work and put down a few beers or your favorite shochu while munching your way through a simple yet elaborate menu of izakaya-type foods.
Izaka-ya by Jimmy has been slowly building a crowd who come for the coolly quaint atmosphere with an ambiance punctuated by funny signs like "I Kiss Better Than I Cook" or "One Tequila, Two Tequila, Three Tequila, FLOOR!" This place has all the elements that draw people to do their social networking while relaxing. wd
For me, though, it's all about the food, and for chef/owner Jimmy it's clear from my two visits that this is his passion. On my first night, I started out with the Poki Salad ($6.95), which did have a spicier kick to it than usual.
Next we had the Izak-ya Tofu Steak ($5.95), which I thought was better than many others I've had that use a meat based gravy/sauce. It's pan seared so it has a crisp outer skin.This dish is one I consider a real comfort food.
We ordered the savory Japanese pancake known as Onokomi-yaki ($7.85), and it didn't disappoint. Well blended with cabbage, onion, bonito, bacon, mayonnaise, and flour batter, it was very good.
When I saw that they had Chicken Gizzards ($4.95) on the menu, I had to have them! Jimmy marinates his and then fries them. He uses a Japanese finadene for a dipping sauce. I can't really describe the unique taste. I am used having them prepared by tossing with seasoned flour then frying or done in grilled yakitori style. These marinated then fried and served with sauce were just plain oiishi!
The final item we had on the first visit was one of the house specialties and, at $12.95, one of the most expensive items on the menu, the Japanese-style Steak. This is a RibEye that's grilled, then sliced and served on a hot cast iron skillet. In the center is a huge pile of grated radish on top of a perilla (shiso) leaf. The eating process is to put the grated radish into the adjoining bowl of a finadene-like soy-based seasoned dipping sauce, then you simply cut your meat and dip it in the combined radish sauce blend. Not bad at all!
The steak was a substantial dish and while it was good, I had to come back the following night and order what I'd seen some friends eating at the bar. This enticing dish was the Deluxe Yakitori ($12.95), which is an impressive display of different yakitori on skewers, including chicken balls, chicken wings, pork, chicken, and beef. I thought this would have been enough, however, I ended up joining some friends for their Sizzling Garlic Shrimp ($8.95), Gyoza ($4.95), Kimchee ($2.95), and an Izaka-ya special, Potato Salmon ($8.95). It seems that all of these dishes are made for a reason or that they have their own story. Owners Jimmy and Gemini have made this restaurant their baby and they seem to bend over backwards to keep their customers happy. They also have karaoke here, so after a few snacks and libations, you can sing your troubles away!
Izaka-ya by Jimmy is the right kind of place to soothe the soul and maybe heal the world's wounds for just one night! I like it!
Ita dake masu!