What to Eat at an Izakaya


The other day I took my chummy out for some Japanese food. There’s a Japanese ‘pub’ – izakaya – in Frankfurt and she’d never really Japanese food that wasn’t sushi before. Most people only think of sushi (and maybe tempura) when they think of Japanese food, so I thought I’d write a guide for what to eat at an izakaya.

These aren’t really pubs like an Irish pub, for example. You sit at long tables, either on the floor on cushions or on chairs, and order lots of little plates of food to share between your group. And of course, there’s beer. HUGE glasses of beer. So, what should one eat?


This is my favourite – age dashi tofu. ‘Age’ means deep fried, ‘dashi’ is a stock made from fish, and tofu is tofu. It’s deep fried tofu in a sauce, basically. Spoon one block of tofu onto your plate then use your chopsticks to pull it apart by pushing each stick away from each other inside the tofu…if that makes sense.


Japanese’s answer to KFC – kara age. ‘Kara’ has little meaning…it seems (I just did a search). But here we have the ‘age’ again – deep fried goodness. You won’t find bones in this chicken but it will be very very hot. Should be served with mayo, lemon and salt.


Sure, you can have some sushi if you like. I don’t ever remember eating sushi at an izakaya in Japan before. though.


But if you really want some rice, what I really recommend is a yaki-onigiri. ‘Yaki’ means ‘grilled’ and an onigiri is a Japanese rice ball. Usually these won’t have fillings in – you’ll be too busy picking the sticky bits of rice out of your teeth to be able to miss any kind of filling.

There are LOADS of other awesome things you can eat at an Izakaya – if you’ve ever been to one then I’d love to know what you liked the best!


  1. Omg, you have to tell me where that place is! I was just saying yesterday how much I’m missing izakaya food.

  2. I remember once I ordered a salad in an izakaya in Gotanda, Tokyo at the insistence of my Japanese friend. It was literally a few pieces of shredded iceberg lettuce, 1/2 a sliced tomato on the side and an ENTIRE raw onion cut up on top with a glob of thousand island dressing on the side. I’m guessing this item didn’t get ordered much 🙂

  3. My favourite thing to order from my regular izakaya is their deep fried mochi cheese balls! They are outrageously good, though they serve them with butter on the side which I can never bring myself to use. Butter on a deep fried ball of mochi and cheese? Erm, no thanks.

    I believe the ‘kara’ of kara-age means ‘China’, though I’m not sure if that means the dish came from China or if it has some other connotation.

  4. Now I’m hungry.

    How could you have forgotten to mention edamame? The perfect companion to beer is salty beans and they make you think you’re eating something slightly healthier than all that fried stuff (though the salt content is through the roof)

  6. Great post! I’m actually planning to go to one for the first time over Christmas break! :] Any recommendations of a good one in Sakae or the surrounding area?

  7. This all looks amazingly delicious.

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