Manzo is a pretty well known izakaya in Richmond, claiming to be one of the first, starting the trend of all the ones coming after. Which I don’t doubt, since Manzo Izakaya has been here for at least 10+ years by now. Manzo Itamae, the younger, bigger, sister of the chain is mainly focused on sit down dining rather than drinking tapas. There are more share plates and bigger tables, more suitable for family or bigger parties.
I’ve been to Izakaya plenty of times since they’re open later, but I’m surprised I haven’t actually had a ‘proper’ dinner at Itamae. If you can even consider this one, since AH8 and I ordered so little. Knowing the staff, especially at an Asian environment, does have its perks. So I’ll just put on a disclaimer first that what is seen here might not be served if you were to order the same things, or might not be on the menu at all.
Saba Ponzu, Inari Nigiri, Ebi Nigiri
This was actually complementary from the sushi bar, as I’ve already started drinking since I’ve arrived first, still waiting for AH8. I just ordered a bottle of 白鶴 Hakutsuru – junmai, a house sake similar to Gekkeikan but in my books taste much better. The nigiris were a cute addition, I had shown them a picture of the Ebi Koi once before so maybe that’s where the inspiration came from, the Saba Ponzu was similar to that of Guu Kobachi. Perfect munchies while drinking.
Deluxe Assorted Sashimi; waru (butterfish), hamachi (yellowtail), salmon toro (salmon belly), uni (sea urchin), hotate (scallop), wild ou toro (wild bluefin tuna belly), shima aji (striped jack), mirugai (geoduck), botan ebi (sweet prawn)
AH8 finally arrives, so we can now move on to the main event; sashimi. This was the Deluxe Assorted, but catered to me, so don’t expect this expensive platter to be the norm. The order goes from left-to-right, back-to-front. Waru, or escolar, butter & oil fish, it has many names as people usually mistaken and misuse it. It has a much firmer texture than toro (tuna belly), but the oiliness and flavours are similar if not better. The Wild Ou Toro, the most expensive one on the platter, was divine. Melt-in-your-mouth, it should always be saved last since the heaviness will prevent you from enjoying any other delicacies.
Gyutan; grilled beef tongue
Mind you, this is two orders, but once again the portion is misleading since I know the kitchen guys as well. I absolutely love beef tongue, and so does AH8. The textures and flavours, cooked just medium, with a squeeze of lemon and pinch of shichimi will be the best drinking companion.
Manzo, though price can get a bit steep, is one of the better Japanese restaurants in Richmond for me. They’re not fully Japanese-staffed and tend to have a lot of fusion specials, but their dishes work and is different from everyone else. Service might be slacking, specially during rush hour, and it doesn’t help that most of their clienteles are mainlanders. Not that I have anything against them, there are nice ones, but in general those I’ve encountered tend to be a little loud and rude.