Small plates, big idea

Illustration by Mark Stivers

The izakaya is to Japan as the tapas bar is to Spain. It's a casual restaurant that serves small plates, meant to be shared, with a few rounds of drinks. I have no idea why it's taking so long for the izakaya to get anywhere near as popular as the tapas bar, but that may change locally with Izakaya Daikoku (1901 S Street). Izakaya Daikoku opened in early October, and it boasts a wealth of traditional Japanese dishes that were previously impossible to find on the grid. Particularly exciting is the okonomiyaki, a dish comprising decadent, savory pancakes loaded with meat or fish and topped with salty bonito flakes, a sweet sauce, mayo and pickled ginger. There's also a line of yakitori—skewered meats, including chicken heart, pork belly and beef tongue—and yakizakana—specialty grilled fish, including rich and tender fish collars. Izakaya Daikoku arrives via the same owners as Akebono and Ryujin Ramen House, and the menu offers some some familiar items. But only the izakaya holds the wildly impressive sake list.