In light of the recent departure of chef Gabe Stallone from Izakaya Den, I decided I'd better get back there and see whether the crew he left behind was capable of turning out food as fine as it had been under Stallone's command back when I reviewed the restaurant last December.
The good news: Yes, it is. I showed up late(ish) on Monday night to take the measure of the place with a gang of hungry eaters, and we worked our way through an abbreviated sampling of the product from both the hot and cold sides. It was no surprise at all that the sushi was as good as ever -- ridiculously fresh and well-handled, just as idyllic as the grub across the street at Sushi Den. But I can also confidently say that the hot side still has its act together, too -- putting out a great plate of curried lobster, steamers of shu mai dumplings and an addictive spread of tuna laid over a tempura-fried rice cake topped with sliced jalapeno and tobiko that was just amazing. It's my new favorite snack food on South Pearl Street.
So while on a professional level I was sad to see Stallone go,on a purely selfish one, I'm happy to see that Izakaya hasn't seemed to stumble under trying circumstances. -- Jason Sheehan