18 AUGUST 27, 2004
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2409 MONTROSE AT HYDE PARK |
LUNCH AND DINNER
SEVEN DAYS A WEEK
• SUMPTUOUS ENTREES
• GREAT LUNCH SPECIALS
• 30 ITEM BUFFET & SALAD BAR
• VEGETARIAN VERSIONS OF
CLASSIC ASIAN AND
FREE ICED TEA
3821 RICHMOND AVE @
[ACROSS FROM HISD HEADQUARTERS]
MONDAY 11 AM - 4 PM
TUESDAY-FRIDAY 11 AM - 9 PM
SATURDAY-SUNDAY 12 PM - 3 PM
C dining j.a. chapman
Daiji's Izakaya, a new downtown restaurant
offers traditional Japanese pub fare that
is most fun when experienced among friends
Daiji's Izakaya is the perfect place to meet friends after work.
Pass the yakitori, please
"CHICKEN KEEL BONE ON A SKEWER?"
My dining companion read aloud, looking
We were perusing the menu at Daiji's
Izakaya, a new Japanese restaurant downtown. Modeled after the popular izakaya,
the Japanese version of a pub, Daiji's
serves tapas-style dishes.
The menu is traditional Japanese izakaya food. Both hot and cold dishes are
available, along with their signature style
of dish, yakitori — skewered and charcoal
grilled morsels. As with any tapas-style
restaurant, it's more fun to visit with a
group so you can try a variety of dishes.
We ordered three dishes to get us started. The excellent seaweed salad ($5)
arrived first. A cool, crunchy mixture of
kaisou seaweed tossed with sesame seeds,
citrus dressing and a hint of red pepper,
this is an excellent dish on a warm day.
The agedashi tofti ($3.50) sounded interesting, but wasn't quite what we expected.
Two large cubes of fried tofu are served in
a sweet, gingery broth. The tofu is topped
with bonito flake, or finely flaked dried
fish. It wasn't to my taste, but it's a
From the yakitori menu, we ordered
the tsukune ($4), or fresh ground chicken
meatballs. Tender, smoky and topped with
a sweet yakitori sauce, they were excellent, although they didn't arrive until the
end of our meal.
If you're a sake fan, Daiji's offers a
well thought out selection. A nice variety
of beer and wine is also available.
BE CHOOSY ABOUT WHAT YOU ORDER:
we found some dishes to be overpriced. At
$9 for two shrimp and a couple of vegetables, the tempura seemed expensive. Ditto
the scallops ($5), which included only one
skewer with three scallop halves. Our
group was divided on the value of the
devine yakitori beef tenderloin ($9).
On the other hand, there are some good
value items on the menu. The pork katsu
($3.50), a battered and fried pork cutlet, is a
deal. The goyza pan fried pork dumplings
($4.50) served with an addictively tan
chili sauce were also reasonably priced.
Although there's no sushi bar. a sashimi
plate ($9) is available, including three slices
each of high quality salmon, tuna, and
squid. Also worth a try - - the yakitori-grilled
bacon wrapped enoki mushrooms ($5).
More adventurous dishes are available for
the bold diner The chicken liver ($3) is sue-
ciUent and smoky Or try the quail eggs ($3),
boiled just enough to solidify the yolk slightly then skewered and grilled for a moment
over charcoal. They're a silky, smoky treat.
And then there are those keel bones
($3), or the breast bone of a chicken. We
just had to try them. They come four to a
skewer and are grilled over charcoal. The
verdict? Well, they're bones.
Desserts are limited, but try the tempura banana with ice cream ($3.50).
At lunch time the restaurant is a different place. Gone is the thumping techno/elec-
tronica that seems out of place. Instead, jazz
provides a more relaxing mood.
The menu is simpler as well, with noodle
bowls, rice bowls and bento boxes. The
oyakodon ($7) rice bowl is a simple lunch.
White and dark meat chicken is cooked with
egg and onion on a griddle, then placed pancake-style atop a bowl of rice. The accompanying miso soup is rich without being heavy
Daiji's Izakaya brings an interesting
dining concept to Houston. Offering traditional Japanese small dishes in a pub setting, it's the perfect spot to meet friends
after work, catch a quick lunch or linger
over dinner. With such a broad menu, you
can always try something new like those
unforgettable keel bones.
s Daijis Izakaya
(J 1201 Caroline
Scene: W w m
¥ = Stay home and eat cereal
1WIW = Well, if you really must
IW IW IW = Fine for all but the finicky
IW IW IW IW IW =As good as you'll
find in this city