We broke lockdown in a basement.
Before the first small dish had even arrived, we were down two pints, blushing from the rush of that lovely thing called social interaction.
In hindsight, this was called for, as I now know, izakayas have two duties. First, to provide alcohol and second and foremost, aid in the booze's soaking up, all under the same dim light roof.
These establishments, perhaps comparable to pubs, invite one to settle in for the night.
Over quarantine, we often reminisced restaurants, listed alongside pubs, parks, and house parties. As the pandemic syndrome began to settle, however, what we missed was hard to pinpoint. The food, of course, but with all the extra time we were gifted, at home, we were eating better than ever—our own creative meals.
Walking towards Izakaya, it all came back.
It was the anticipation, and then the freedom to decide. Getting to pick a table (a choice possibly determining the rest of the evening), picking from the menu, picking whether you can squeeze in/ afford dessert, and mentally picking whether you will be coming back or not.
For me, there is also the extra thrill of knowing I might taste something utterly new * for the first time* and knowing I can sink into my chair and meticulously read the menu, attempting to memorizing combinations (to try at home) while my more food-casual friends keep enjoying the evening.
Any other bright summer day of any other year, I would have questioned the choice of picking a basement as venue, especially given the early sunlit dining hours of Norway, which I am (maybe) slowly adjusting to.
Except this was Summer 2020 and nothing sounded better than stepping down into a cellar for the evening. Cosy enough to call it a home away from home and contrast with the loud energy bouncing from each table. Baby steps.
The walls are covered with Japanese film stills from the 1900s. In between, all the trinkets invite to snoop around- almost hoping for a souvenir shop by the exit. The staff was kind and cool, sincerely offering translations to the dishes for nothing more than a quality eating experience. Some dishes even stuck out in their explantations, with adjectives such as really and pipping, hinting personal preferences.
I love a good indirect recommendation.
Given the emotional circumstances of reuniting with beloved restaurant dining, my experience was spiked with excitement. Therefore, I cannot be critical; instead, I'll share all those things that made dining at Izakaya Oslo something I am looking forward to repeating.
A couple of pints
Shiitake Bataa Ponzu Itame
Being the first time I have ever poked an egg yolk with chopsticks over soba, I now need to thank Izakaya for the life-changing experience.
The whole yolkporn game has changed forever.
The egg coated the noodles instantly, contrasted by the sharp taste of the fresh spring onions.
For the second round, the menu turned into an ouija board as our fingers met on the chijimi, as we unanimously dialled its spirit. The words pancake and cheese listed in the ingredients subtext, promising the soaking up of the countless øls.
We left full of hope, walking out through the bar area where sake is poured, imagining a near future where this small basement will be hot and loud, full of microdacing.
Will come back for
Wakame no Sunomono
More of the same and extra mazemen
Learning about Izakayas from