Izakaya Seki is a different kind of father/daughter dance: Father Hiroshi expertly slices sashimi and molds triangular onigiri while overseeing every move in the downstairs kitchen. Daughter Cizuka dances with grace around the V Street restaurant, making sure patrons are seated in precisely the perfect place and that everyone leaves full, happy and with clothes that carry the scent of Japan.
The traditional-with-a-twist Japanese pub food at Izakaya Seki ranges from raw to fried and even includes an item that’s still alive. We’ll get to that. But first, The Best Thing on the Menu: Kakiage – rock shrimp and vegetable fritters can’t be missed. Onions and other vegetables stack up like an unkempt pile of firewood inside fried batter and every few bites you’ll encounter a rock shrimp or two. This will make you rethink your commitment to traditional tempura. These pancakes are way more fun to tear apart, share and dunk into a mild dashi sauce. Just don’t try making it at home, unless you have a kevlar grease shield.
Adventurous eaters should try two things, especially if they’re sitting at the downstairs arena looking into the kitchen. The first, an order of live uni, translates to a 10-minute show. Watch as a cook tickles a live sea urchin with tweezers until all that remains is the meaty yellow flesh. The taste and texture can only be described as savory and pungent frozen yogurt.
The second challenge is tuna natto. We’re betting you’re no stranger to maguro sashimi, but its bowl co-chair is sticky, stringy, fermented and hated by at least half of the population of Japan. Fermented soy beans, known as natto, are a divisive dish (even within one Japanese family). You either love them or hate them.
Eating natto involves an acquired skill of transporting the small beans to your mouth while twirling long sticky spider web strings before they get on your nose, forehead or dining companion. They’re super healthy though, and can be attributed to a youthful looking complexion (read: eat this fountain-of-youth food and look like Jennifer Lawrence forever).
For more pictures from the meal click here.
Kakiage not your BTM? Share your favorites in the comments section.