An Izakaya is a Japanese-style eatery and drink spot

What is an Izakaya? Unveiling the Popular Form of Japanese Dining

The charm of Japanese culture comes in many forms, one of which is the traditional Japanese restaurant known as an “Izakaya.” This type of establishment is highly popular among travelers and Japanese culture enthusiasts. Not only is the food style intriguing, but the atmosphere and experience of dining in an Izakaya also offer a unique appeal that sets it apart from typical restaurants.

Many may wonder how an Izakaya differs from regular restaurants. This article will explain what an Izakaya is to unveil the culture behind Japanese dining and drinking. Once you visit an Izakaya, you’ll be hooked!

What is an Izakaya?

An Izakaya is a Japanese-style restaurant that resembles a traditional bar or pub. It offers a lively and fun atmosphere and serves snacks and a variety of alcoholic beverages at affordable prices, making it a popular spot for friends to gather and relax after work.

The atmosphere in an Izakaya is vibrant and filled with cheerful chatter, but it’s not overwhelmingly noisy. Izakayas symbolize a part of Japanese life, where hard workers unwind by eating and drinking together.

History of Izakaya

The history of Izakaya dates back to the early Edo period (1603-1868) when these establishments resembled roadside liquor stalls where customers could stand and drink. During the Meiji era (1868-1912), Izakayas evolved to include tables and chairs, allowing customers to sit and enjoy their food and drinks comfortably. These small, cozy establishments became ideal for relaxing and socializing.

After World War II, Izakayas gained even more popularity and began to diversify their offerings and menu items. Some started incorporating modern décor and serving international cuisine to cater to a broader clientele. Today, Izakayas are not just places for drinking alcohol but also for enjoying food and socializing, embodying the essence of Japanese dining culture.

How Does an Izakaya Differ from a Regular Japanese Restaurant?

While both Izakayas and regular Japanese restaurants serve food and drinks, they differ in several key aspects:

  • Atmosphere: Izakayas often have a relaxed, casual atmosphere perfect for socializing and unwinding. Customers can eat and drink without worrying about time. In contrast, regular restaurants might have different atmospheres depending on their style.
  • Menu: Izakaya menus are more diverse, focusing on Japanese-style snacks, appetizers, and single dishes. Regular restaurant menus depend on their specific type, with some offering a wide variety of dishes and others specializing in a particular cuisine.
  • Drinks: Izakayas primarily focus on alcoholic beverages, especially sake, shochu, beer, and highballs, available by the glass or pitcher. Regular restaurants offer both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks but usually do not emphasize alcohol as much as Izakayas.
  • Price: Generally, Izakayas are more affordable, making them great for budget-friendly eating and drinking. Regular restaurants tend to be pricier, depending on the type of restaurant and the ingredients used.

What Is Izakaya-style Food Like?

Izakaya-style food offers a wide range of dishes, from main courses to snacks. Here are some must-try dishes when visiting an Izakaya:

  • Yakitori: Skewered grilled chicken, including parts like the meat, skin, liver, and cartilage, marinated in a flavorful sauce and grilled to perfection. Served with salt, pepper, or mayonnaise.
  • Yakisoba: Japanese stir-fried noodles with a chewy texture mixed with vegetables, meat, egg, and a savory sauce, topped with seaweed and dried squid.
  • Gyoza: Crispy pork and vegetable dumplings with a thin, crunchy crust, served with a special dipping sauce.
  • Tempura: Japanese-style fried food, including shrimp, fish, and vegetables, with a crispy exterior and tender interior. Served with salt, pepper, or tempura sauce.
  • Oden: A warm Japanese stew consisting of vegetables, eggs, tofu, and fish balls simmered in a savory fish broth.
  • Ehire: Grilled dried shark fin, with a fragrant, chewy texture; perfect as a snack with sake.
  • Tako Wasabi: Thinly sliced fresh octopus served with a spicy, tangy wasabi sauce, a popular appetizer.
  • Dashi Tamagoyaki: Japanese rolled omelette flavored with dashi broth, soft and fluffy with a sweet and savory taste.
  • Onigiri: Rice balls filled with tuna, salmon, and seaweed. They are perfect for a light snack.
  • Edamame: Boiled soybeans sprinkled with salt, offering a tasty, salty, and savory snack.
An Izakaya is a Japanese-style restaurant offering a wide variety of food and drinks.

Izakayas are traditional Japanese-style restaurants with a unique food and drinking culture. If you’re looking for a hangout spot or mall near a BTS station to savor delicious Japanese cuisine, visit Mercury Ville @ Chidlom. We offer a relaxing atmosphere and several famous Japanese restaurants near Chidlom station (such as Kagonoya and many more), serving excellent food in a cozy setting. See you there, food lovers!