We have been offering an izakaya menu at Tsunami for several years now, but I still get the question “What is izakaya?”. I used to launch into a lengthy explanation of the history and traditions of izakaya and how the concept has grown and morphed over the years. How it has begun to permeate the American food culture. I would make correlations between izakaya offerings and Spanish tapas, Mediterranean meze, and Chinese dim sum. Then I would segue into a rant about how pathetic our culture of snacking is here in America and that we should drop our notion of “meat and three” gorging and adopt a more civilized concept of grazing like other countries. But I soon realized by the way my guests cut their eyes at each other that I was getting on my culinary soap box.
Lately I have been simply telling people that the izakaya menu is like Japanese tapas. But I feel like I am short-changing the concept. That’s why I was glad to run across this article in the New York Times. If you take the time to follow the link and read this piece, you will have a much better appreciation of these small bites.