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THE ZEN OF IZAKAYA

Okuzono presents culinary on a higher plane.

Not your average Japanese dining experience, Okuzono set itself apart in the heart of Senopati area. The newly opened restaurant from Okinawa has rapidly established itself as one of the happening spots in town serving traditional Japanese cuisine with a modern twist.

I arrived at the restaurant late in the afternoon just before lunch ends, and the parking lot was still packed. If you familiar with the area, then you already know that valet service is the only option.

As I entered the front door, the hostesses gave a warm welcome, and instantly I felt comfortable with the ambiance and music that seemed familiar. Perhaps I had a flashback to the time when I was a bartender at a sake bar in Lower Manhattan, it was practically the same vibe.

The first impression of the interior was simple yet modern with clean wooden Japanese furnishing. In the centre, there is an inclined dining area with each table inside a wooden cubicle comparable to lecture halls. With the focus of attention on the open kitchen, the chef is in the spotlight for the overall dining experience.

The contemporary Japanese ambiance is reflected in the bar area, which designed as a casual Japanese pub for after-hours drinking, as well as the Zen garden with carefully composed arrangements of rocks, bamboo trees, and shoji-style lamps. Next to the garden, private rooms with tatami seating and cosy settings are available for any events.

Okuzono presents an inspired menu of izakaya-style Japanese cuisine and great sake selections.

The signature dish pays tribute to the Okinawan cooking method with the local ingredient. Each dish in the menu represents the prefecture’s unique food culture with selections that include appetizers, salads, grills, rice, noodles, sushi & sashimi, and desserts.

To quench my thirst, I started my lunch with a sip of Fruit Peach Tea. It was a refreshing mocktail that suits perfectly for an afternoon drink. The touch of Hojicha tea with the combinations of mint leaves, peach syrup, and apple juice gave me a summer breeze sensation.

The first dish of the day was Chaba-Beef Marinated in tea leaves. The grilled US beef was cooked to perfection, juicy and pink in the middle. I was impressed by how much flavour made its way into the meat, especially after dipping in the onion sauce.

When I learned that I’m going to review a Japanese restaurant, I immediately thought of raw fish, and that would be ordinary. However, Okuzono serves differently by creating menu selections of Okuzono Sashimi and Masu Sushi – Trio Sets. My share of raw fish came from a rice dish called Seafood Gome-Chazuke, which was a mixture of fresh kampachi (yellowtail) sashimi poured with green tea over cooked rice with sesame sauce on the side. It was definitely a mouthwatering experience.

And for my final dish, I had a set menu that only available during lunch. The Sanma Sumiyaki Set includes sanma (mackerel pike), rice, tamagoyaki, salad, kobachi, and green tea. The savoury taste of the char-grilled mackerel with perfectly cooked Japanese rice was delightful, made me realize how often I overlook the simplicity.

Last but not least was the sweet temptation, Houji-Cha Brulee. The roasted green tea captures all the vanilla-cream sweetness of a classic crème brulée. With the familiar custard base and crunchy toffee crust, the Japanese twist dessert was satisfying and downright addictive.

In a satisfactory manner, Okuzono offers an exceptional journey of Japanese cuisine by combining the traditional style izakaya with a modern twist. It is the ideal place to unwind and relax while enjoying delectable culinary.

Okuzono Japanese Dining Jalan Suryo No 1 Kebayoran Baru Jakarta Selatan

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