From former Chuuka chef Jason Nguyen, Kaiza Izakaya fits in with its Enmore Road neighbours with a relaxed, casual fit-out and a (temporary) BYO menu.
Pull up a seat in the front bar and watch people drift by, or wander through to the enclosed courtyard space at the back with moody black and red walls that have been adorned with cranes, fans, and lanterns.
Though Kaiza Izakaya might look the part, the menu really does set it apart from your run-of-the-mill Newtown Japanese joint. Dip into Nguyen's polished take on izakaya favourites like silken tofu in ankake broth, a colourful sashimi platter, spicy pork udon, and gyu don with kombu dashi and teriyaki.
But it'd be a crime to leave without trying Nguyen's more experimental fusion dishes. Like the wagyu nigiri with crispy rice, kizami wasabi, and cured egg yolk. It's a brilliant balance of flavours and surprising textures wrapped into one surprising parcel.
The crispy deep-fried eggplant is another of our favourites, with a light crunch, oozing centre and dressed in sweet black miso, chives, and furikake. The blue swimmer crab fried rice with prawn floss is hearty and filling; as is the grilled broccolini with truffle miso and roasted almonds, and the rich lamb cutlets with garlic yuzu kosho and yuzu miso.
For now, Kaiza Izakaya is offering free BYO. The still-to-come drinks menu is being created by 6Head sommelier Theodore Nguyen. Expect a more refined selection of sake, whisky, and Japanese beer, alongside wines that will really let the fusion flavours sing.
Image credit: Leigh Griffiths