Izakaya spots are becoming increasingly more popular and I’m totally here for it.
Izakaya is a type of casual Japanese dining typically featuring small bites or snacks served with alcoholic drinks. Think Japanese tapas. I’ve passed by Fish & Bird Sousaku Izakaya in Berkeley numerous times and finally gave it a try. While the menu was pretty extensive from a large raw section, fried bites, seafood and vegetable items, the overall menu didn’t entice me.
When I read negitoro, I was imagining fatty tuna chopped up with the scallions on top of rice. This was sliced pieces of fatty tuna which was actually very flavorful and melted in my mouth. The tamagoyaki, Japanese rolled omelette, was decent but could have been more pillowy. My biggest criticism was that the rice was slightly dry and a tiny bit crunchy.
I liked that the tempura was made kakiage style but I wish there was more corn in the mixture. The matcha powder was a nice touch and added some herbal notes.
A pretty straight forward chicken karaage but the curry sansho salt did elevate the otherwise ordinary flavor.
I’ve never had this type of udon which was thinner than traditional udon. Served with mentsuyu, ginger, and scallions, this was a traditional way to enjoy cold udon which is one of my favorite Japanese dishes.
My dining experience could have been different if I wasn’t with Tommaso as he’s extremely critical especially since he works at a Japanese izakaya restaurant. While nothing was wrong with any of the dishes, each dish could have been more refined and while Tommaso’s criticisms were valid, maybe he was slightly harsh. Prices weren’t necessarily cheap but unfortunately that’s the reality of operating a restaurant nowadays in order to make a profit and pay fair wages. Fish & Bird Sousaku Izakaya is a solid restaurant if you live in the area but not somewhere you need to go out of your way for so my rating is a 7/10.