There was reason to celebrate and so last Thursday, Scarf and I met up for a somewhat impromptu dinner. It was a bit of a crazy night trying to find a place. I hit some bad traffic and so our original plan to dine at Fatty Crab fell through. We scrambled and decided to meet at Tia Pol for dinner but the wait was 45 minutes. We put our name down and walked over to Red Cat to try our luck, only to discover it was under construction. So back to Tia Pol we went and decided to get a drink at Izakaya Ten next door while we waited(we needed one at that point). Long story short, Tia Pol messed up and we ended up eating at the bar at Izakaya Ten.
I have had sushi here years and years ago but never really eaten the izakaya offered here. We got a bunch and shared. Everything was divine and I may have found my new favorite izakaya spot.
The fried squid balls with bonito flakes and donkatsu sauce:
Not fishy at all (if you think it would be) but very moist inside and soft with crispy fried exterior. The generous helping of donkatsu and mayonnaise is delicious and this is a very traditional Japanese street food. You must try it if you like risotto balls. Do not be afraid of the squid – if anything it adds a great umami flavor. I bet you won’t even notice the squid.
Served piping hot with a nice chew to the dumpling casing but nothing I haven’t had before.
Spicy marinated pickles:
This reminded me very much of cucumber kimchi. It’s got a nice fresh crunch to it and a bit of acid to cut the grease and fried foods we just consumed. It’s quite delicious and a different taste on pickles if you love pickles.
Japanese fried chicken:
I dunno what it is but I just love Asian fried chicken. It’s just got a lighter more savory texture and batter than the American counterparts in my opinion. This was super crunchy and the chicken was really moist. I was dipping this chicken into the donkatsu sauce that came with the fried squid balls. If you are craving fried anything, go with these and the squid balls.
Pork belly with kimchi!!!!
My favorite of the night. Fatty morsels of pork belly sliced thin and tossed with that pickled garlicky kimchi which has been warmed by the skillet. We ordered a side of rice to eat with this. This is a full flavored dish and it’s really quite yummy. I would definitely get this again. I loved the use of kimchi and pork – it’s very Korean.
Scarf has never had Hamachi (Yellowtail) collar so I suggested he try this. I kept telling him it’s the best part on the fish.
He did not complain and he pretty much picked this to the bone. I could tell he really liked the collar. The skin is crispy, the meat is incredibly moist and flavorful. I thought it could have used a little salt but abstained.
Japanese rice balls stuffed with cod roe:
It’s sticky rice that encases any type of filling really. It’s then cooked/grilled so that you have crunchier bits of rice on the outise and chewier rice on the inside. The filling can be meat of any kind, fish and even roe. We got it stuffed with cod roe and the salty fish eggs really added a lovely flavor to each bite without being overwhelming – you could taste the smokiness in the rice. It’s a very portable snack and popular in Japan. Innards:
We were full but needed one last thing: I got Ikura sushi (salmon roe) and Scarf got two pieces of eel.
Perfection. This meal was a perfect substitute to Tia Pol. We wanted small plates and big flavors and although this was Japanese, it delivered everything we wanted and then some. I was completely satisfied and I enjoyed every part of this meal. I can’t wait to head back soon with Cookie Monster in tow. Place is small and gets PACKED so go early or be prepared to wait.
Izakaya Ten, 207 Tenth Avenue, New York, NY