The popular Iiza Japanese izakaya (or tavern) on buzzing King Street is always filled with people, but not many patrons realise there's a private dining area upstairs available for groups.
Function menus range in price from $35-$50 per person with a minimum of ten people. The room can accommodate up to forty, seated on wooden benches.
Tempura prawn sushi roll in egg crepe
We've opted for Function Menu A, an eight-course offering for $35 per person, and climb the steep stairs at the back of the restaurant to find the second floor dining room all to ourselves.
Edamame, a bowl of steamed soy beans sprinkled with sea salt, provides a simple start, the bright green pods squeezed gently to extract each legume.
A couple of dietary requirements (no raw seafood) had been pre-advised to staff, who were more than happy to provide alternate dishes to the standard menu. Hence the standard sashimi tuna rolls are replaced with tempura prawn sushi for some, although raw tobiko flying fish roe presumably escaped the attention of staff.
Sushi roll with tuna and avocado
Chef's selection sashimi platter
The Chef's selection sashimi platter provides a generous assortment of raw salmon, tuna, kingfish and scallop.
Soft shell crab (sashimi alternative dish)
The cooked seafood eaters are provided with a soft shell crab salad which several of us may have plundered mercilessly.
I love the presentation of the gyoza, six golden crescents nestled in a wooden tray. The skins are thin and crisp, and the filling is soft and juicy.
Agedashi tofu was a dish to share, the potato starch-dusted cubes of silken tofu drenched with a sweet dashi stock and served on a bed of green tea noodles.
Green tea noodle salad
Green tea noodle salad provides more carbs, although the light and zingy soy and onion dressing on top gives it a refreshing tone.
By the time the teriyaki chicken arrives, we are starting to struggle. The marinated chicken thighs have a lovely caramelisation to the edges, and the dish of teriyaki sauce on the side is appreciated, allowing us to individually control the sweetness of our serving.
Crispy seafood and vegetable tempura
The tempura arrives last, an ode to everything that is glorious about deep-fried. Eggplant, sweet potato, prawns and vegetable kakiage are coated in a wondrously light and crispy batter than makes an audible crunch with each bite. A saucer of green tea salt provides a seasoning boost.
Green tea ice cream with red bean $6.50
Dessert isn't part of the banquet menu, but we'd organised for an extra course of green tea ice cream, topped with a scoop of adzuki red bean paste and shards of deep-fried pastry, that provides a fitting finish.
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Iiza, Newtown (Mar10)
Congratulations to Kate who has won a 12-month subscription to the Stonesoup Virtual Cookery School worth $199.
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7/06/2011 07:45:00 a.m.