Izakaya: Keeping it fresh in Atlantic City

Izakaya, in the Borgata in Atlantic City, gives diners their money’s worth and a belly full of excitement — whether they are international high-rolling sharks or considerably smaller modest-living fish.

 

The stylish, modern Japanese restaurant and bar does a great job of being both a sushi bar and Japanese-inspired grill.

As a bonus, they have a special Monday-night menu with $7 small plates like fish tacos and tuna tartare. You can also snag yourself a stamp for free entry to club Mur Mur if you spend more than $20 on Monday.

But most of us will walk out of Izakaya too full of food (OK … and sake as well) to dance because there are so many dishes, small and otherwise, to tempt you.

The edamame dumplings ($10) are not to be missed, bathed in a broth of sweet sake and shallots with a seductively warm and silken texture waiting for you inside.

The sushi menu sets itself apart from most other sushi restaurants with the apparent freshness of the fish, which has a flavor and feel that says “plucked today from the ocean” instead of “thank goodness for iced shipping containers.” Izakaya also goes the extra mile of perfectly seasoning the rice in its rolls with soy and a hint of wasabi, saving you the trouble of doing it yourself.

The Robatayaki menu features all kinds of vegetables and proteins skewered and expertly grilled. The mushroom skewer ($8) is surprisingly hearty and well-seasoned. The Spanish octopus ($10) is succulent, and the waygu beef ($15) is nothing short of carnivore sex on a stick.

The bigger plates have some transcendent moments too. The braised black cod ($32) had a light and crispy feel, and subtle flavors that were complimented by the bed of edamame and pickled plums on which it rested.

Izakaya also blows the doors off its dessert offerings.

The ricotta beignets ($9) were crispy sweet puffs of pastry dreams come true. But even they paled in comparison to the crispy rice sushi roll ($9), which comes across like the insanely decadent result of a Rice Krispy treat making mad chocolate-peanut-buttery love to a Carvel ice-cream cake. Yeah, Cookie Puss is freaking dead to us. Nothing less than this dessert sushi will do from now on.

Whether you are in the mood for sushi or something a little more refined and fired up, Izakaya has some serious culinary samurai skills in the kitchen to suit your needs.