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Overrated but still decent: Restaurant Gaijin Izakaya (19. February 2020)

| March 18, 2020 | 0 Comments

Recent reviews of the Gaijin Izakaya hyped the place quite a bit. While I personally consider it nice and good, it isn’t as great as it seemed (when reading other reviews). The place is super full so booking in advance is a must. Once you’ve secured a table, make sure to not bring much as the tables are tiny and rather close to each other. They even make you share your table (which is e.g. for four people) with another party. Not generally a problem of course but the distance to the other people at the table could definitely be increased.

We wanted to go for the Omakase Menu for CHF 60.00 but the waiter said that they did not offer that this day. Now, I wonder, if that’s kind of your signature dish, shouldn’t it always be available. Apparently not. So, after realizing that we were not really that happy with the suggestion that we pick something from the menu instead, he got back and told us that he could ‘create’ an Omakase menu to which we willingly agreed.

It started with “h ‘n’ cold cucumbers, sansho peppers, roasted sesames” (CHF 7.50) and “miso shoyu roasted eggplants, garlic chips, soy sake sauce” (CHF 9.00) which were both better than expected – I especially liked the cucumbers as they had a little spice to it.

The “garlic rice, Togarashi garlic chips, homemade Japanese mayonnaise” (CHF 6.00) was served twice, one bowl for everyone at the table but it wasn’t announced. So one came in the beginning and then randomly 15 minutes later, another one was served. The rice was good.

The “prawn tempura, garlic chili aioli, black pepper rice chip” (CHF 17.00) were good but I definitely liked the “chicken karaage, tace, cabbage salad, homemade Japanese mayonnaise” (CHF 16.00) much more as it had an intensity which was pleasant.

My absolutely favorite dish of the evening was something vegetarian though, the “Brussel sprouts, rice crispies, Katsuobushi, garlic chili aioli” (CHF 14.50) was just mind-blowingly aromatic and absolutely mouth-watering! It is something I would probably not have picked myself if ordering from the menu, but I can tell you that you should absolutely order it.

The waiters performed very differently. While one of them did an amazing job and was friendly, attentive, and also professional, the other one really didn’t live up to the task. It took him a solid 15 minutes to bring us two beers. I wondered a bit how long one can potentially take to get two beers but 15 minutes really is a ‘wow’ for a “Swaf Draught” (0.5l) (CHF 7.50). Secondly, he served some of the dishes on the other side of the table where the others sat while the dishes were for us plus he crossed through the wrong dishes (you get a little paper with the stuff you’ve ordered at the table, so the waiters can cross it out once served). Really not how service should be!

The “chicken oysters, lemon, sea salt” (CHF 15.50) was really not what I consider tasty. The chicken oysters were a bit burnt.

The “main meat course” on the other hand was outstanding. The meat just fell off the bone if you worked on it with a fork. Just like that. It was incredibly tender and delicious in terms of flavor. So, all in all, the dishes aren’t all that bad – quite good actually. But the place is somehow not there yet – in terms of space (way too tight) and in terms of service (not everyone is at the same level).

As a summary of what you get at the Gaijin Izakaya, one can say that there are good dishes which are definitely delicious and the atmosphere isn’t all that bad. However, there isn’t enough space between the tables which doesn’t really provide you with sufficient privacy plus the quality of the service really varies depending on the individual waiter. Furthermore, some of the dishes aren’t really what I had hoped for while others were delicious! Booking in advance is necessary in any case!


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Contact Details:

Restaurant Gaijin Izakaya

Birmensdorferstrasse 5

8004 Zürich (CH)

Tel.: +41 44 482 22 00

E-Mail: info@gaijin-izakaya.ch

Homepage: http://www.gaijin-izakaya.ch

About the Author:

I started the blog in October 2009, while living in Milan which I definitely consider to be one of the food capitals of the world. I was in touch with food since my early childhood (as my father is a former chef). Whenever I can, I travel the world to discover new places, to meet people but mostly to try local dishes and to find hidden gems! If you know a place worth going, please drop a line to: info@thediningexperience.org. Currently, I am a member of the following food-related associations: Chevalier @Chaîne des Rôtisseurs Zurich-Ville; Membre Gourmet Dégustateur @Ordre Mondial des Gourmets Dégustateurs [OMGD]; Gesellschafter @Goldener Fisch and Member @Slowfood Convivium Zurich City.
CHF 145.00 (incl. tip) Filed in: Restaurants, Zürich (CH)

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