11931 Jasper Avenue NW, Edmonton
In the last couple of weeks, I had the chance to go to Ikki Izakaya twice. Once with Thomas and Matthew, my two cousins who were just visiting, and then again with Jessy. The one thing that I definitely like about this place is its proximity to my house compared to Izakaya Tomo. It’s located right on Jasper Avenue and 119st. The restaurant is super tiny, with limited seating. There’s some street parking nearby, up and down Jasper, and some on the adjacent side streets.
This is now only the second Izakaya in the city, after Izakaya Tomo. For those who don’t know, an Izakaya is like an informal gastropub, which focuses on drinks and Japanese bar/street food. So the first time I went was on a Wednesday around 8 ish, and it was sooo packed. Every seat was taken, and it was really lucky that a small group of 4 was just leaving when we got there. They have 50 cent takoyaki on Wednesdays, so that was definitely one the of the dishes we got, along with rice balls, Motsuni stew, beef tataki, and a few others.
The Takoyaki (octopus balls) here were okay. There’s a little bit less octopus than the ones you would get at Izakaya tomo and the dough is a little bit more glutenous and seemed to have a bit more filler, but for 50 cents a piece, I can’t really complain! We were able to crush a lot of them between the 3 of us. I think it’s definitely worth it to get a few on Wednesdays, but I’m not sure on any other day. They also come in two different types. The original comes with takoyaki sauce and mayo, topped with bonito flakes, and the other with green onions, mayo, and citrus soy. Both are pretty decent and good to get a mix of both.
The other dish that we got was the motsuni stew. This is one of the most authentic izakaya dishes in Japan. There’s slow cooked pork shocho (intestines), silky tofu, leeks, and ginger stewed in Ikki’s famous sweet mixed miso. I really liked this dish! The broth had a lot of flavour and I really liked the sweet mixed miso. The pork was really tender, and the texture isn’t what I’m really used to for intestines. For those of you who aren’t partial to intestines, it can be a little bit of an acquired taste. I’ve never had anything like this before, and I really like the uniqueness of this dish.
Lastly, we got the rice balls. This was probably the most underwhelming dish. It’s an oven baked crispy rice ball, served with teriyaki sauce. My cousin, Matthew, is kind of a Japanese culture-buff. He’s been to Japan several times and really likes the culture, cuisine and all. He’s had some really good rice balls in Japan, and these were really not impressive in my opinion. Definitely not worth the 8 dollars, to be honest. I would rather have anything else on the menu.
On the other occasion that I went, I had Takowasabi (wasabi marinated octopus) and tuna tartar, and I suggested that we get the motsuni stew again, because I wanted Jessy to give it a try.
The Takowasabi was decent. It’s raw octopus, marinated with wasabi, and served with seaweed and cucumber. I wasn’t quite sold on the pairing of the cucumber, seaweed, and the takowasabi. I enjoyed everything separately, but together, the flavour of the cucumber didn’t really go with the takowasabi. Still a pretty decent dish though.
The Tuna tartar is probably one of my favourite things out of both of my occasions here. It’s chopped tuna, avocado, and apple, served with spring roll chips. This was really light, and flavourful. The apple really is a nice addition to the dish. It adds a little bit of sweetness and everything went well together on top of a spring roll chips. I definitely recommend getting this as one of your dishes.
The Beef Tataki is thinly sliced mid-rare AAA beef tenderloin with citrus ponzu sauce. You get a pretty small portion for what you pay for. The pieces of beef are cut thicker than what I’ve seen at most other places. I did like that the sear on the beef was quite smoky and flavourful. Overall, not bad, just a bit expensive compared to other places.
The Fresh Salad roll comes with fresh veggies mixed greens, wrapped in rice paper, and shrimp is an additional dollar. This was relatively underwhelming, and I probably would have rather tried another dish. It was pretty plain, and not worth the space in my stomach! Would rather fill up on something else.
Lastly, we had the Japanese Poutine. This was not bad. It comes with fries, cheese curds, nori seaweed, green onions, with their sweet Ikki sauce. Overall this was not bad. It was a bit light on cheese curds but it’s a fair portion for what you pay for. If you’re a big fan of fries, this is a pretty good choice.
Overall, I had pretty good experiences at Ikki Izakaya. Their menu is relatively small, and they do have occasional specials. I’ve gone here a few more times since this post and they have expanded their menu and added a few more things. I enjoyed most of the dishes that I’ve tried here thus far. Their prices are relatively expected for an Izakaya. They seem to focus a lot of their sake, which makes sense for an Izakaya, but their food is reasonably good. If you’ve never been to an Izakaya, I’d definitely try going to one of the two places in Edmonton!