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Bring the party home with this Japanese pub-inspired cookbook

Izakaya cooking is all about enjoying hearty and flavorful Japanese food with drinks and friends at your local hole-in-the-wall hangout. Similar to tapas or pub food, izakaya fare ranges from tasty bar snacks to substantial salads, stews, grilled meats and seafood dishes—all made fresh with minimal fuss and maximum flavour - and served alongside a chilled glass of beer or sake.

The Real Japanese Izakaya Cookbook allows you to recreate over 120 of these classic izakaya dishes in your own kitchen at home. These include standards like Yakitori Chicken Skewers, Crispy Gyoza, and Grilled Wagyu Beef with Shiso. Vegans and vegetarians are also well catered to with dishes like Daikon Salad with Yuzu Dressing, Chargrilled Fava Beans and Baked Tofu with Ginger Sauce. Chef and author Wataru Yokota add their own unique twists to signature Japanese recipes, like Miso-Simmered Pork and Grilled Mackerel with Plum Sauce.

Yokota's recipes are simple and quick, aimed at working folks who don't have a lot of time to cook but love trying new and interesting flavours. This book provides clear step-by-step photos and instructions for each dish. The introduction gives guidelines for selecting, pouring and mixing drinks to complement the recipes—and even how to quickly grill and smoke meat to give it that authentic izakaya taste!

About the Author:

Wataru Yokota was born in 1980 in Okayama Prefecture in Japan. He has worked in various well-known French restaurants and in 2012 established his own restaurant consultancy. He now splits his time between working as a restaurant consultant, acting as a private chef for special events and writing cookbooks. His latest book introduces California cuisine to Japanese readers.

Foreword writer Makiko Itoh is the bestselling bicultural author of the Just Bento cookbook series. She now writes full-time to introduce Japanese food concepts to Western readers.
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  • Practical, attractive, straightforward, recipes with range of difficulties
  • No major cons
Izakayas (Japanese pubs/bars) need to be able to provide a wide variety of dishes, from signature dishes that may take a lot of preparation to simple and tasty snacks that can be whipped up in a couple of minutes while chatting to customers. This book contains 120 recipes that cover the dishes found at an izakaya that do indeed vary from easy (cucumbers with sweet miso) to quite ambitious (there's a short section on smoking meat and seafood).

An introduction contains a description of the key ingredients, where to get them and some basic techniques such as making dashi stock and cutting onions (though I doubt that most non-Japanese readers would consider 'how to clean and prepare a whole squid' a basic technique!). This is followed by chapters on starters and snacks; grilled, roasted, baked and sauteed; deep-fried; simmered, steamed and smoked; and finally the carbohydrate course - rice, noodles and bread - the same order that Japanese people traditionally eat at an izakaya.

The book gives straightforward instructions with practical hints, such as alternatives given for ingredients that may be more difficult to source - this is a book that has been written to be used, not to be left on a coffee table. Accordingly, the photos are attractive and instructive, with none of the ultraclose shots beloved of 'food porn'.

To test out the recipes, I followed six of the more straightforward ones from the starters and snacks chapter (see photo). They all turned out well, with my wife pleasantly surprised to come home and find six dishes on the table, though the quantities seemed a bit off in one of the recipes.

A glossary of the main ingredients in English, romanji and Japanese may have been useful, and the book was a little heavy on meat for this non-meat-eating reviewer, but aside from these minor quibbles, I recommend this book, particularly for non-Japanese people wishing to extend the range of their cooking.
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Wataru Yokota / Makiko Itoh
Tuttle Publishing
Year of publication
Number of pages
JPY 2,200

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