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The New Mexican's Weekly Magazine of Arts, Entertainment & Culture Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Restaurant Review – Top flight: Izanami

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Posted: Friday, December 27, 2013 5:00 am | Updated: 10:01 am, Fri Dec 27, 2013.

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.

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5 comments:

  • Karen Petersen posted at 5:28 pm on Thu, Jan 16, 2014.

    kushka53 Posts: 4

    I think you are too used to airline food! As a reporter, I've eaten all over the planet and this is a spectacular place and I'm thrilled it's in my home town. People should run, not walk, to enjoy a meal here, as it's all fabulous--just perfect for business, friends, family, whatever...

     
  • Karen Petersen posted at 5:23 pm on Thu, Jan 16, 2014.

    kushka53 Posts: 4

    [smile]
    This is without exception the best Japanese restaurant in Santa Fe, probably in the entire state, hands down. I moved here from NYC, where there are some spectacular high-end authentic places to eat and have also visited Japan several times. What passes for Japanese cooking in Santa Fe, and most of the USA, is mediocre at best. But HERE you get the real thing, both in terms of ambiance, which is fabulous--what a setting!, and in terms of the food and drink. I cannot recommend it highly enough--although be warned, the first time around it's a bit difficult to find, but well worth it! I say without hesitation, GO!!

     
  • cynthia perry posted at 2:12 pm on Sat, Dec 28, 2013.

    flygirl Posts: 1

    [thumbdown] My daughter and I visited the restaurant over Thanksgiving weeend and I have to disagree with the review. First let me state that I am a flight attendant and have been flying the Asia route for over 35 yrs. We ordered the gyoza which was over cooked and was a poor imitaion of the taste I was used to. The sake list was way to extensive and most were very pricey.. The wait staff certainly was not professional at all. Their hair was down and swinigng everywhere and they did not have a clue as to Asian culture. I did expect to see the main cheif..(cook as saw him), to be Asian. instead it was an oler gut with long hair. Again no hairnet on etc. Don't waste the gas to go there!!

     
  • Jeff Acker posted at 10:04 am on Fri, Dec 27, 2013.

    JAcker Posts: 1 Staff

    Corrected. Thanks for the note and thanks for reading!

     
  • kkmuller posted at 8:21 am on Fri, Dec 27, 2013.

    kkmuller Posts: 1

    While the restaurant is no longer open, I would like to clarify that "Fast Food Nation", as it was identified, was actually "Real Food Nation."

     
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