Sunday, June 22, 2014

Izakaya Review

This is for a series of posts for the Borgata Hotel & The Water Club including: Bobby Flay SteakWolfgang Puck American Grille, Wolfgang Puck American Grille [2], The CafeteriaTony Luke'sN.O.W.N.O.W. [2]MetropolitanSun Room, Sun Room [2], Fat Burger28 WestGelato, the Borgata BuffetIzakayaBread and Butter, and Fornelletto.

On my last trip to the Water Club, the GF and I brought along some good friends of ours. And for dinner, we decided to check out Chef Michael Schulson's Izakaya

Chef Schulson is well-known is Philly for his take on Asian cuisine at Sampan. So we expected a similar Asian-fusion-esque twist on dishes, presented with modern flair. Izakaya offers a larger space than initially expected from inside the casino. Dark reds and shadows span throughout with an alluring mystique. 

Restaurant Week Menu [$33.14 pp]

Unbeknownst to us, it was restaurant week so we were able to score an affordable foray into Chef Schulson's cuisine - $33.14 for 3 courses a person - not bad! 

Japanese Green Salad 
Ginger dressing, carrot, radish

The GF started with a salad, which was a huge bowl of lettuce, hiding radish, carrots, and shaved asparagus as well. This wasn't the typical neon-orange ginger dressing that most sushi joints have going for them either. The greens were well dressed and the flavors were all there. Nothing special, but definitely tasty for a salad.

Crispy Oysters Shrimp 

Izakaya was out of oysters, so I opted to receive the crispy shrimp instead. These were dressed in an addictive slightly spicy mayo and were still crispy and well cooked. Similar to rock shrimp dishes you'll find in many sushi restaurants these days, this was delicious.

Uni Sashimi [$9]

I also ordered some uni sashimi, which were fresh, sweet, and buttery. For me, the shiso's mint-sesame flavors detracted from the uni a bit, but it was still enjoyable.

Sushi Roll Sampler
Crab California, shrimp tempura, salmon yuzu caper, crispy lobster, dragon 

For her main, the GF opted for the sushi roll sampler. From left to right, she received rolls containing crab, shrimp tempura, salmon yuzu, crispy lobster, and lastly, a dragon roll. The crab California roll must have real crab in there because a la carte, it's priced at $17 a roll. A bit lofty for flavors that aren't incredible. The shrimp tempura was crispy with a bit of spicy mayo atop. The yuzu on the salmon offered bright citrus to help offset the brininess of the caper and the fattiness of teh salmon. Unfortunately, the crispy lobster was completely overpowered by what was more of a citrusy guacamole than avocado. Surely a way to effect cost savings at the loss of flavor. The dragon roll was creamy, but there were no flavors that were inspired. Overall, I don't know about the sushi rolls here. I typically prefer nigiri or sashimi though. 

Beef Short Rib 
Kabocha, yu choy, pancetta

On the other hand, my main was perfect. The short ribs were incredibly tender, well-braised, and perfectly cooked. The kabocha squash offered a muted creamy texture to the dish to help offset the salty depth of the sauce and the richness of the beef. The pancetta did add some nice weight to the dish, with the Chinese greens offering some levity. Definitely a must order.

S'more Tarte
Oreo crust, marshmallow, peanut crunch

For peanut butter lovers out there - this might be your thing. For me, it was a bit too pronounced - I was hoping for more toasted marshmallow flavor. Still, an interesting take on an oft-enjoyed campfire treat. 

Crispy Rice Sushi Roll
Vanilla ice cream, toffee, chocolate chip, peanut butter 

I wasn't looking forward to this dish, but frankly, I was really surprised. Luckily, the peanut flavors were muted (unlike the last dessert). The vanilla ice cream really came through the and the texture from the rice crispies was nice. The toffee helped to add some caramel notes as well. 

Izakaya offers decent flavors that certainly embody the Asian fusion mentality. I would've have also tried the pork buns, but alas, they're filled with fried pork cutlets and not pork belly. Do get the short rib and the crispy shrimp though - you won't be disappointed.

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