If you’re lucky, you’ll get a parking spot at the top of the hill, just a few level steps from the entrance to Izanami, the new Japanese-inspired restaurant on the grounds of the Ten Thousand Waves spa. But forgo the easy choice and park in the lower lot near the highway. Climb the 91 steps — elevation gain 60 feet — up the hill to the restaurant. The wide stairway, lit by lanterns and offering a bench here and there, is like a mountain trail to a favorite camping spot. The sign announcing those 91 steps also claims that ascending them will burn 46 calories. You’ll need to climb that curving trail at least five times to burn off the calories you’ll ingest from a serving of Izanami’s grilled pork belly (butakushi). But that succulent, intensely flavored chunk of pork makes the climb — and the calories — worth it.
Izanami is modeled on Japanese izakaya taverns. It serves small, shareable plates of grilled and fried meats, roasted vegetables, salads, and sweets, similar to Spanish tapas — otherwise known as appetizers here in the U.S. They’re teamed with serious sakes, Japanese micro-brews in both cans and bottles, Sapporo on tap, and wine. Exotic loose-leaf teas, caffeinated and not, are there for a pick-me-up. But it’s the food that’s the draw. Chef Kim Müller, formerly of The Compound and Real Food Nation, divides her menu into cold, hot, grilled, fried, and sweet categories. With one quibbling exception, everything we tried was exceptional. Many of the dishes are served with well-matched sauces, such as the glaze on that pork belly or the miso sauce brushed on the roasted, almost creamy eggplant (nasu dengaku). Ingredients are all top-shelf. The menu claims that 95 percent of the produce used is organic, and a server told us the wagyu beef — grass fed and grain finished — was raised in New Mexico.
You must login to view the full content on this page.
Or, use your linked account: