IZAKAYA

What's that you may ask, Izza-what? Kaya? No! It's not that green coloured jam which most Singaporeans love to spread it across two pieces of bread for their breakfast, mind you! Izakaya, a Japanese term that describes a stylized Japanese bar which is generally compact/small, typically inexpensive, dishes and snacks are served to accompany the alcoholic drinks. In other words, it's your modern casual dining where one could grab a quick bite, drinks and carry on with their daily activities (for a fixed time though, more on this later in the article.)

Izakaya is one of Japan’s quintessential experiences. If it’s your first trip to Japan or you’ve been here for a lifetime, it’s hard not to enjoy a beer and yarn with friends over some heavily salted fried food at this Japanese establishment.

Most guides and dictionaries translate Izakaya as “pub” or “tavern”, but it doesn’t really fit neatly into either of these definitions (oh the woes of intercultural translation). Izakaya are different from bars in that diners are always seated and there is little opportunity for interaction with other customers. While drinking is a big part of it, there’s also a constant stream of (shared) dishes. It’s hard to classify the food other than “generally goes well with alcohol”. In fact, the menu can be so diverse that it can be a chance to try some dishes you haven’t tried before. Typical izakaya dishes include chicken karaage (Japanese-style fried chicken), yakitori, edamame, grilled fish, french fries, sashimi, sushi,  ebi-mayo (fried shrimp with mayo), nabe (Japanese hotpot) and salads. Izakaya is also typically attended by large groups of friends or colleagues and is rarely a dating spot.

Rather than tipping or paying a traditional service fee, in an izakaya you pay otōshidai (お通し代) or sekiryō (席料), which is often translated as “table charge”. This is a misnomer since you’re not paying for the table, you’re paying for the seat. The charge is per person and includes a small dish of food called otōshi. The upside to this mandatory charge is trying whatever otōshi comes your way—it can be likened to a lottery where you might get some of the tastiest nibbles you’ve ever tried, while other times it’s a bit disappointing. Either way, the fun is in the surprise and it’s definitely part of the whole Izakaya experience. (A note for vegetarians though is that the dish often has meat or fish in it.)

This fee varies from place to place, so if you’re worried about it, ask before you enter. To find out, you should ask “Otōshidai arimasuka?” (Is there a seating charge?), then “Ikura desuka?” to find out how much.

For many of these Izakaya restaurants, there's an implementation of a 2-hour time limit If you’re at an Izakaya with empty seats and no one waiting at the door, you're most welcome to eat and drink all night if you want. However, if there are hordes of people waiting to get in, the Izakaya establishment may impose a 2-hour limit from when you arrive. When the 2 hours is up, they may ask you to leave politely so that new customers can take your table.

PERSONAL THOUGHTS

(From the photographer at 9 Creation)

Our client, George who is an Educator at a local University in Singapore is a super cultural enthusiast! I really mean it when I say that and I'll tell you why in just a bit. During my recent visit to his place for a scheduled photo shoot, the moment I entered his home, I could tell immediately that he was someone quirky and not your average Joe.

The reason, why I mentioned earlier that George's a cultural enthusiast is because first and foremost - The moment I entered his home, the first thing that I needed to do urgently was to use the bathroom! Believe it or not, I was pleasantly surprised or rather truth be told, mind blown to be exact. The bathroom totally caught me off guard - it was as if I had been transported to the other side of the globe! This strange yet familiar ambience was so intense that I had to take a moment to consume everything in, in its full glory. If you don't believe me, carry on and scroll down to check out what i mean.

I then carried on to perform my mandatory checks (a quick walkthrough). I first began with the kitchen, which in essence is a completely different world by itself - a loud retro-industrial like wicked kind of a kitchen. The ambience was somewhat intense mainly because of the eye-catching turquoise refrigerator and the gloss red sewage pipes.

In all honesty, I've never come across any project site nor kitchen which has such bold, contrasting colours. The cement screeded walls paired flawlessly with the running track lights in the kitchen - this rather unconventional industrial-like setting gels really well together all in its entirety. I kind of secretly wished that this was my kitchen in my own home. No normal conservative Singaporean would choose to accentuate the sewage pipes in such a manner. More often than not, we Singaporeans would rather try to hide the fact that there's this odd pipe that juts out from the ceiling with something neutral, or at least a paint job that 'conceals' these pipes - e.g. white walls with white sewage pipes.

Drawing aesthetic inspirations mainly from Japan's culture, our client proceeded to decorate his home in a ubiquitous Japanese way that takes a lot of effort to plan and execute to be able to pull it off, otherwise, it'll give off an over excessive vibe.

The bedroom, however, is simple yet modern. Giving up an entire room's space to turn it into a walk-in wardrobe is a huge sacrifice by any standards! It's just what our client did, they turned their spare room into a spacious wardrobe interconnecting via their bedroom of course!

Here's a video commentary by the owner himself, on what he has to say about us, 9 Creation, our Interior Designer and his love for Japanese culture!