LOCAL Houston | The City Guide August 2016 - Page 21

FOOD | ARTS | COMMUNITY | STYLE+LEISURE A Japanese gastropub. Awesome, right? Frankly, yes, it is. We’ll be honest: We really enjoyed Farrago in Midtown, but there’s really no comparison (other than location) because Izakaya’s on a whole ’nother level. Part of the Azuma Group (think Azuma, Kata Robata), Izakaya took over the corner of Gray and Bagby, giving us a Houston spin on the classic Japanese tavern/tapas/gastropub which normally functions as a post shift respite for drinks and bites after a day (or night) of hard work. Our version offers a creative mix of excellent cocktails, an intelligently curated wine list, a boatload of stellar spirits (whisky flights range from $25–$125, increasing together in specialty and price) and food that goes toe to toe with just about anywhere else in the city. Izakaya also takes things one step further, offering a killer brunch to keep those weekends rolling. You’ve been to Midtown so you likely already know the atmosphere slants toward party. Keep that in mind and expect cool crowds filling the trendy Asian industrial interior and patios seven days a week. Our Perfect Pairs come from many different inspirations. This month it’s a soulful, chef-paired dish as wild as the surf but simple as a day at the beach, brought back from Chef Philippe’s recent trip to Mexico for a wedding. The Aquachile shrimp is cooked perfectly medium rare by simply shaking it in lime juice, vinegar, salt and jalapeno. That is correct. It’s cooked in only those ingredients. FYI, this cooking/curing marinade is also known as leche de tigre. After, the shrimp is served with some leche de tigre and an appropriately summer garnish to add a fresh crunch. As you can imagine, when enjoyed with the rough (in a good way), peaty shot of Del Maguey Vida Mezcal and the Tajin-topped Valencia orange, you get one of the most wild but balanced pairings we have ever had the pleasure of enjoying. Acid, smoke, sweet, savory. We could go on, but instead we’ll let you get up and go on to Izakaya... By Mike Cook Photography by Kennon Evett IZAKAYA | 318 Gray St. | Houston, TX 77002 | 713.527.8988 www.houstonizakaya.com DEL MAGUEY VIDA MEZCAL | www.delmaguey.com august 16 | L O C A L 21