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Masters of Their Craft

Alison Abbey | November 6, 2014 | Articles

Krog City Market’s Craft Izakaya takes the traditional watering hole izakaya concept into the modern age thanks to a funky, downtown vibe, sleek decor and a pulsing ’90s hip-hop soundtrack. In fact, every aspect of Craft Izakaya incorporates operations partner Richard Tang’s and chef Jey Oh’s New-meets-Old World approach.

“Jey and I envisioned this project a year ago,” says Tang. “We wanted to do authentic izakaya with a great beverage program. We wanted a balance of having great food, drinks, service and ambience all together.”

“We just wanted to execute the food the best way we can,” adds Oh. “We took traditional dishes and said, ‘What’s the best way to serve this?’ We are trying to take a step back and find a better way to execute traditional kitchen items and sushi.”

Our advice? Kick off the meal in tapas-esque style with wasabi shumai, dainty dumplings that pack a punch thanks to their namesake topper. Or, order from the yakitori menu, which includes skewers stacked with beef tenderloin, king mushrooms, chicken heart, beef tongue or the ambiguously named “intestine.” Each of these delectable opts are seared to perfection and bursting with flavor, thanks in part to the Japanese binchotan charcoal upon which they’re grilled.

In the mood for sushi? The sashimi offerings are some of the freshest in town. “When it comes to my craft, I want to stay true to it,” Oh says. “We are here to be pioneers and to introduce what sushi could be.”

Translation: Craft Izakaya is not the place to slather your sushi in spicy mayo. Even the rolls are light, seafoodcentric works of art, free of heavy sauces and gastronomic gimmicks.

“We are purists,” says Oh. “I’m not drenching my rolls in sauce so the flavor is masked. It’s all about the product.”

On the drink side, take advantage of the watering-hole tradition with cocktails au courant. Bar Manager Nate Shuman (formerly of Proof & Provision) has created a roundup that includes our current fave, the Boba cocktail opts (adult versions of traditional bubble teas that pack a punch). Speaking of punch, the Cherry- Cardamom Chuhai, which includes Sudachi shochu, cherry cabernet cardamom syrup and lime, is a close second when it comes to taking the edge off of a long week.

“So many times, you go to a great traditional Asian restaurant, but the service and beverage program are terrible,” says Tang. “We wanted to take the good parts of a ma-and-pop sushi place and add an awesome beverage program. This is the new generation.” Welcome to A-Town, Craft Izakaya.

Craft Izakaya
99 Krog St. NE


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