IZA stems from the Japanese word ‘Izakaya’ which means gastropub. Initially, I thought that this is just another Japanese bar that serves sakes and beers with yakitori. But after I sat down to have a meal there, I realised that this isn’t your typical Japanese gastropub. IZA is your local version of Izakaya Bar with that strong ‘Singaporean’ element in it. Let me tell you why.
IZA is found along the famous stretch that is East Coast Road. This new restaurant has only been opened for a month, yet it ’s relatively well-received, judging from the weekend’s evening crowd.
It was a gastronomical experience dining there where we tried some of their signature dishes which features local ingredients like Hae Bee Hiam (Spicy Dried Shrimp). The dishes here have an interesting local flavour which may appeal to those who love spicy Asian food. So, what’s on our menu?
Four Ton Chawanmushi
You can tell whether a Japanese restaurant is good or not by their Chawanmushi. To me, this dish is the determining factor. Iza’s Chawanmushi went way beyond my expectations. It is more than just a simple steamed egg custard as it has four different eggs – chicken, century, salted and quail eggs. It’s the eggiest Chawanmushi I’ve ever tasted. If you love eggs, their Chawanmushi will make you bop up and down your seat in delight.
This makes an excellent appetiser for a start. It is a string medley of cucumber, zucchini, carrots, seaweed, tofu and tomato; all mixed with sesame dressing. It could also pass off as a vegan pasta dish as the cucumber strings do look like noodles.
Deep-fried Chicken Soft-bone
I don’t think I’ve ever tried eating fried chicken with bones so soft that you can chew on it. This dish goes great with some beer and remembers to deep it into their special mayo sauce to enjoy the full flavour of this dish.
This is a beautiful combo of avocado, bacon and onsen egg which tasted like the heavens. This is one of their must-try dishes. Who knows that these common breakfast ingredients could go so well with each other?
I find that the spicy flavour of the Otah (grilled fish cake) overpowers the taste of the Japanese-rolled omelette. To me, it tasted just like Otah wrapped with eggs.
Stuffed Taupok Special
This taupok gets kinda explosive in your mouth. You will first taste the minced chicken, onion, carrot and mushroom before tasting the mozzarella taste oozes out of the Taupok. I must say that it is a creative take on the Taupok which is usually eaten plain.
I would have preferred having this grilled oyster with some lemon and salt to neutralise the fishy taste. It would have been much easier for me to slurp up the succulent oyster flesh.
Hae Bee Hiam Spaghetti
This dish gives all its glory to Hae Bee Hiam, a local form of dried shrimp paste that goes well with most Asian savoury dishes. It even tasted delicious on a slice of plain bread. In this case, it made the spaghetti tasty, but at the same time, it does confuse my tastebuds a little. Hae Bee Hian with Italian Spaghetti?
Whole Seabass with Home-made Chilli
I was even more intrigued by this dish that resembles our local version of BBQ Sambal Stingray. The seabass is huge, and they are very generous with the not-so-spicy chilli paste. It tasted like a homecooked dish which goes great with a bowl of rice. But at the same time, I wasn’t quite expecting for this Japanese restaurant to serve one of our local delicacies. It may appeal to foreigners or tourists though.
Special Yaki Onigiri
The Hae Bee Hiam mania did not just end at the spaghetti dish. They even have an Onigiri which is indulgently mixed with Hae Bee Hiam. Wow, the chef or owner of this restaurant must have a strong liking for Hae Bee Hiam!
These Skewers did not disappoint at all. We had Fresh Prawn Skewer, Lady’s Finger, Hand-made Chicken and Pork Meatball, Chicken Mid Joint and Bacon wrapped Lychee. I enjoy their Lady’s Finger and Bacon-wrapped Lychee skewers. Because lychee complements so well with the bacon, I wonder if strawberry would go well with bacon too.
These grilled pineapple chunks came out last. It is a perfect finishing dish as it helps to cleanse the palate. I love these soft and warm pineapple chunks that are slightly caramelised.
I have to applaud IZA for injecting our local elements into their dishes which they would indeed call it their own. Their innovative take on their dishes adds a little more excitement to our food scene here in Singapore.
This is truly your local Izakaya bar.
695 East Coast Road