Hard to get into. Even when you have a booking. But worth sticking around to find out why.
Isozumi is a lively izakaya in Kyoto's downtown area with a youthful staff, clientele and simple but well executed izakaya fare. Extremely fresh, flavoursome seasonal ingredients are not mucked around with. It is a happy place with a strong local following - an eclectic, casual crowd who 'get' the team and I suspect might be there every week just to hang out with them. Well, the dudes behind the counter ARE kinda cool - especially for Kyoto where things can tend to be a little reserved. Although I have to say I'm discovering more and more joints like this in Kyoto town....which is exciting.
We had one hour to order and be fed and outta there (due to mix up with our booking) - which we almost managed to achieve. Well, we were in fact out of there in an hour but merely shuffled 2 meters across the laneway to their sister restaurant Isomatsu where we were served our last course - a tasty, albeit relatively light version of, Oden. And whilst waiting we threw down a drink or two - myself going for the modern, frosty fresh juice and wine cocktail in place of the chu-hai I was after. Better than I was expecting.
Jumping back a little - the salad above, a textural starting point for our meal was loaded with greens, wafer thin slices of simmered pork bellly, crisp vegetable chips and a umami packed dressing.
We quickly hopped on to the whole grilled onion - sweeter than a kiss.
Followed by a plate of fresh tofu topped with finely shredded yamaimo (sticky mountain yam), avocado and nori over which we drizzled a well balanced soy. Love the creamy/salty combination of this and once again the textural play was key - as you'll find repeated all over Japan.
This modern version of Nasu Dengaku (eggplant with dengaku miso dressing) highlighted the full flavour of the quality eggplant by simply dotting over with the rich sauce instead of covering the whole thing -this was such a simple dish but it made me very happy. Eggplantalicious.
A few more sticks - this time pork belly grilled, with lemon.. Again. simple/good.Isomatsu. A bit less rustic in its decor than Isozumi and, going by the general vibe, seemingly trying to attract a different, perhaps slightly more upmarket, clientele than her free and easy sister. If you didn't know they were related you would not be able to tell although each had their charms.
If you are keen for a foodie adventure in Japan with moi - check out my tours page HERE.