Published Apr 4th, 2013

By Steven Sandor

Tokyo Trends

Japan's izakaya trend comes to Edmonton

Photography by Curtis Trent.
Photography by Curtis Trent.

On the south end of 99th Street, with a view of a yard filled with moving crates, comes Edmonton’s first foray into the Japanese izakaya trend. If you’ve been to an izakaya in Toronto or Vancouver, you know the drill. It’s a place to drink beer, sake and shochu — beer, rather than wine, goes much better with Japanese cuisine, by the way — and the servers bring out snack-size plates of what would be considered pub food in Tokyo. It’s not about eating a beef or a pork dish on its own. It’s about how that dish pairs with beer or sake.

Izakaya Tomo seats around 50 people and is situated in the Merchants Row strip mall, but it is warm and inviting, with wood benches and tables making for a communal dining experience. And what dishes should your bottle of Asahi Super Dry wash down? The thin cuts of beef tataki are tender and decadent, while the ponzu sauce is made creamy with a hint of butter. For the more adventurous snacker, tuna yamakake sees the sashimi floating in a sea of potatoes. The spuds are about the consistency of porridge, so it’s the texture that’s the change of pace. 

The plate of simmered pork belly is rich and fatty, a decadent dish that begs to be washed down with beer. And, on Fridays and Saturdays, the kitchen is open until 1:30 a.m. In a city that desperately needs more late-night dining options, it’s a luxury to have beef tataki with last call. ­(3739 99 St., 780-440-9152, izakayatomo.net)

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