Izakaya Daikoku opened on Oct. 1, replacing the now-defunct Sweetwater Restaurant and Bar, and before that, Fins Market & Grill at 19th & S. Can the new restaurant by the owner of Land Park's Akebono and RyuJin Ramen House be successful when others have failed? Based on my initial visit, a resounding yes.
I ate there the first weekend they opened (sorry - a little behind on my writing), and I found well-oiled restaurant, with staff borrowed from the owner's two other establishments.
We arrived on a Friday night, and diners are given the option to eat at a large common table with space for 20, or at traditional tables with seats for another 60 or so total. We chose the later and started devouring the extensive menu.
The menu is broken into Otsumami, Yakizakana, yakitori, Teppan Okonomiyaki, etc. Bring your iPhone - even for those who dine at Sacramento Japanese restaurants frequently, a lot of the concepts are not familiar. I had to Google all of those terms.
The restaurant is an Izakaya, which is a Japanese drinking establishment that serves food to accompany drinks, generally casual places for after-work drinking, per Wikipedia. Given that it's the first Izakaya in Sacramento (that I know of), I decided to only order off that part of the menu.
Sea Steak Salad - $10. Thinly sliced seared tuna, mixed tuna with avocado and seasoned seaweed salad, served with ponzu sauce, garnished with 2 kinds of tobiko.
Ikasomen - $8. Thinly sliced raw squid sashimi, topped with quail egg yolk, served with "dashi" soy sauce.
Buta no kakuni - $6. Pork belly cooked with soy sauce base.
Liver Yakitori - $2. Grilled chicken liver on the skewer with tare.
Hotate Teppan Okonomiyaki - $11. Japanese-style savory pan cake with bay scallop and vegetables, ginger & bonito flakes on top with mayonnaise & special katsu sauce on top.
These dishes ranged from good to great. My favorite dish was the Japanese-style pan cake. It's similar to a Korean seafood pancake. For those who aren't familiar with that reference, it's like a savory funnel cake with seafood mixed in. I know that sounds gross, but trust me. Try it, and you'll love it. They were also very generous with the scallops in the dish, with half dollar-sized bits of the shellfish. The sea steak salad was also very good. It was very fresh and another way to showcase ingredients traditionally found at sushi restaurants. The liver skewers were another winner. They were were well-seared, and tasty.
The pork belly was good, but unremarkable. I've had pork belly many times, and the dish didn't do anything to wow us to order it again. Finally, the raw squid sashimi was our least favorite dish. This isn't a comment on the talent on the chef in preparing the dish, but maybe a feature of the dish itself. Raw squid doesn't have much taste, and even when paired with the quail egg yolk and sashi soy sauce, the dish didn't have much taste. It's the first time I've ever had anything like that, and maybe that's the way its supposed to taste, but I probably won't be ordering it again.
Izakaya Daikoku is a real gem, and I'm glad that it's opened. It has a unique concept, executed well. I'm sure I'll be back soon.
Izakaya Daikoku is located at 1831 S Street, and can be found online at http://izakayadaikoku.com/.