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Any authentic izakayas in the the Boston area?

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It seems like that term gets used a bit loosely these days.

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  1. I have found nothing n the Boston area that I would classify as an authentic Japanese isakaya. The only place I have tried that comes close in Shiki in Brookline and I emphasize "close". Every other Japanese restaurant or so-called Japanese restaurant serves pretty much the same standard dishes ranging from sushi to tempura, to teriyaki along with the usual appetizers. I wish someone would open a really good one here. In Japan there are low end isakayas and very high end iskayas but Boston has none.

    1 Reply
    1. re: RoyRon

      Certainly Shiki is the closest.

      I would also say that Yakitori Zai is a high-end izakaya --- in addition to skewers, there are many creative, authentic cooked Japanese dishes.

      Also, there are a number of other authentic Japanese restaurants, from less expensive ones such as Toraya and Oga's, to more expensive ones such as Oishii, Uni and O Ya, that have a number of interesting and delicious cooked dishes, in addition to sushi and sashimi. You can make a meal at those restaurants out of just those dishes. Do they feel exactly like an Izakaya --- not exactly --- but if you're most interested in exploring cooked Japanese food beyond the same standard dishes that RoyRon mentions, you do have some choice in Boston. IMHO, avoid Basho.

    2. I have never tried Shiki for some reason, I assume it's pretty good. I'd say the kitchen at Toraya is about as good as it gets around here for cooked foods that I've tried. Oga's kitchen has always disappointed me. In terms of "feel" probably Yakitori Zai has an ambience that comes closest, but we all know the deal there. (Pricey, questionable value.)

      To me izakaya has to be open until 4AM, so no, there is not and will not be anything like an izakaya here. I'd just bring a flask and a book about Japanese food to IHOP and call it a night. You can always dream or go to NYC.

      Could do midnight ramen and sake bombs at Uni if you are looking for some fun though. Sorry to be a downer.

      2 Replies
      1. re: tatsu

        I think shiki would work better than your ihop plan- though I respect your plan. I've been to some of the NYC izakayas and shiki's food is very close. Haven't been to shiki in a while though but I really liked it s couple of years ago. Definitely worth trying. It almost has a private club vibe.

        1. re: tatsu

          I am one of Toraya's biggest fans, and the cooked food is good, but is not anything remotely resembling izakaya in my experience (my definition stems from Vancouver experiences) - Toraya is a quite small (yes, expect to wait in line for at least 30 minutes at peak times - no reservations), generally very quiet place open pretty limited hours serving a relatively limited and conventional Japanese menu with a single very skilled, dedicated and warm /friendly sushi chef (owner, I presume?) and efficient, friendly service.

          I have wished many times we had some kind of izakaya option in Boston (why not in or near Chinatown?) - I may have to make to Shiki soon...

        2. I agree that Toraya would be the second closest to Shiki but Toraya cooked food items are quite limited and pretty standard Japanese fare. Izakayas in Japan vary a lot but good ones usually have a wide range of sakes and shochus (the customer usually buys the whole bottle and they keep it for him) and the have many small dishes that change very frequently depending on the time of year and market availability. Many of the more exotic offerings would be difficult to find in the USA even in New York. Things like Fugu, horse meat sashimi, shiokara (fish sperm) and various types of fish unavailable here.

          1 Reply
          1. re: RoyRon

            I have had fish sperm at Craigie on Main!

          2. Thanks for the input. I have tried Shiki for lunch. Although didn't quite fit the izakaya profile i was in search of, it did seem quite authentic in that it resembled the Japanes lunch set places that are so common in Japan. Still in search of that dimly lit place with good japanese small plates and japanese beer. What would be really great is if someone found a way to import the concept of the "nomihoudai". (usually 2 hours of all you can drink,) along with a lower priced izakaya model. I could never see that working out in America though.