Thursday, May 24, 2018

Izakaya Dinner Near Airport

Of course, one might argue that just because the restaurant is close to the fish market doesn’t guarantee the best quality of ingredients nor the finest seafood cuisine being served, but no doubt they have the geographical advantage of having access to some of the freshest. To tourists and shopaholics, the area near to Osaka’s Kansai Airport is probably better known for the Rinku Outlet Town for those wanting to fetch a bargain, but the Izumisano Fish Market was also just as famous, for being the major trading spot for fresh seafood in the region, and as an extension, home to many restaurants that offer decent seafood dishes.

We dropped by one such place as our first dinner upon landing. Izakaya Takada was located literally minutes away from the fist market and also round the corner from the hotel we were staying for the night, in a non-descript house at a street corner. Despite it being a bit far away from the nearest train station, the place was surprisingly packed when we arrived with people drinking and eating both in the ground floor counters and tables and in the private rooms upstairs (judging from the loud noises we heard from below). Seafood is their specialty, many of them on live display at the fish tank right near the entrance, but they got a long list of other dishes as well, written on the wall and on the sheet of laminated paper on the table. No English menu was available and we were not going to make this a hindrance to us.

We began with a few seafood dishes cooked in a variety of ways. First to arrive was 3 different types of sashimi dish – the tuna was served in 2 cuts (maguro and toro), with both cut in thick chunks and with rich flavor. The slices of torigai (giant cockles) was served with a mild sweet mustard and had a fresh and clean flavor. The shirako (cod milt) was slightly steamed and served with grated spicy daikon, green onions and soy sauce vinaigrette – I love the creamy texture.

Then there were the cooked dish – we saw the kuruma ebi (giant prawns) jumping up and down in the fish tank so we ordered them cooked as tempura. The batter was a bit too thick to my liking but the prawn was of excellent quality, with firm texture and almost sweet flavor. We ordered the kinmedai (goldeneye snapper) prepared as nitsuke (simmered in soy dashi) and while I thought the portion was a bit small, the fish (with the part near to the head) has delicate texture and good flavor.

Getting a better idea of what they were serving by looking at what other people were having, we picked a few more. The Shioyaki Nodoguro (salt-grilled blackthroat seaperch) was perfectly done with crispy skin, firm meat and well-seasoned. Ise-ebi (spiny lobster) was a specialty seafood produce in the area and one available as daily special. We ordered one to be prepared two ways – first the body served as sashimi slices, and then the head and tail turned into broth with miso. The sight of its eyes and tentacles still moving while the sashimi was served on the same plate didn’t sit very comfortable with us, but we got to admit it was delicious. So was the soup mixed with red miso filled with umami goodness.

The plate of deep-fried local fish “nuggets” was also great to go with the sake we were enjoying (the seasonal brew of Kokuryu Brewery), so were a couple of beef dishes we ordered – a simple pan-fried and the seasoning of salt was all that’s needed. The only dish we didn’t like was the giant clams, which we thought was a bit too tough.

Overall the Ise-ebi did knocked us off a bit in terms of our final check, but it still represented very good value for the sheer amount of food and drinks we had and for the quality. In the past, every time we came around the Kansai Airport area we were always in a hurry to head off to our destination (usually Osaka or Kyoto or for the return flight home) or get on with our shopping spree at the outlet village. Perhaps next time we should explore more of the dining scene around here too.

When? March 22 2018
Where? Izakaya Takada, 1-13-29 Onishi, Izumisano, Osaka, Japan
Menu Highlights? Ise-ebi two ways
Web: (Tabelog)

(Part of the Wakayama Travel Series)

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