Kaizouku Izakaya: A temporary take on Japanese bar food


The pop-up restaurant set up shop neer a beer garden to serve as a compliment to the bar’s alcohol selection.

Michael Ossorguine, Staff Reporter

An authentic and accurate take on Japanese cuisine is a luxury in the good old U.S. of A. Being weary of the slightly generic Tsunami Sushi at the Lavin-Bernick Center, it was a treat to try the exquisite concoctions served last Friday evening at Aline Street Beer Garden by a pop-up bar named Kaizouku Izakaya.

The one-night event was hosted by the duo Alfred Thomas Small and Sami Smog. The friendly atmosphere combined with a pleasant outdoor picnic table setting and amazing dishes made for a memorable dinner. The small kitchen had a specific target audience of friends looking to drink and eat to their heart’s content.

“Come get drunk on German beer and full with Japanese pub food. This Friday!” Small said in his plug for the event on Facebook.

The menu was limited, yet everything was both original and seriously tasty. The pork buns, made with teriyaki-soaked pork belly quarters and lettuce, wrapped with sweet, moist and delicious Japanese buns were the highlight. The sticky rice served with a variety of Japanese pickles and ginger had a quite striking and pleasing taste as well. As far as bar food goes, this pop-up deviated vastly from the norm of cheap quesadillas and burgers usually served at similar venues, which was the hosts’ goal.

One thing unique about these aspiring chefs is that their future plans are not to open a restaurant, but compliment the beer and liquor served at bars with food specifically designed to accompany those drinks.

“We like the aspect of serving in a bar instead of a restaurant,” Smog said. “Whether it would be some stagnant space or a travelling space like a food truck or something like that, we are definitely looking at trying to expand.”

“The food is great for drinking,” Small said. “I like going to bars and eating bar food, but, you know, it’s never healthy. A lot of the time it’s just plainly not good. We want to do something different.”

The team only got together last summer, working at the Japanese restaurant Sen in Sag Harbor, New York. They learned a lot about aspects of the culinary style and fell in love with it. This was their first attempt at a Japanese pop-up bar, and it was a very successful venture, as well as a great way to end the week.