I was getting frustrated by the lack of date nights so I booked Marc and myself in for dinner at Moga Izakaya last week. In a freak occurrence, we couldn't drive out of West End because every road we went onto was backed up with traffic. Mind you, this was lateish at night so there was no obvious explanation. After a few frustrating attempts, Marc and I headed home in a huff. I then got drunk, fell asleep and dreamt that I rescheduled the booking at Moga but when I woke up the next day I realised this wasn't the case.
Not one to be defeated, we ended up heading there Monday night for dinner. I was worried we couldn't get in without a booking (and I was too embarrassed to book again) but the restaurant is much bigger than I expected. It's located in Rosalie, opposite Gelataria Cremosa and it covers a big corner block.
Moga Izakaya is beaaautiful. As soon as I stepped in, I started brainstorming suitable events to host there. It would be perfect for an engagement party or milestone birthday. The way it's decorated makes me think of Japanese street charm crossed with a fairy garden. It's undercover but open plan, looking onto a gorgeous treed courtyard.
Japanese craft beer of the day
We started with some drinks. Marc was put off by the $15 price tag for imported Japanese craft beer but I was drawn in by the daily special's 8% alcohol content. That seems like value to me! I really liked my beer (forgot it's name). It had a strong wheaty flavour and light citrus tone. I have discovered my niche beer preference is for pale ale.
The menu style is Japanese tappas and we were recommended to order 3-4 items per person for sharing.
Salmon sasa-zushi - lightly marinated salmon wrapped around sculpted sushi rice ball, presented in origami bamboo leaf
The first dish to arrive was the salmon zushi. Before eating this dish, I didn't know what a 'zushi' was but it was described as a must have so I of course I ordered it. I'm still not 100% on the definition but can only ascertain that it's salmon wrapped around rice. We were starving by this point and just stuffed these balls down our throats but they did leave a positive impression. The salmon had a cured, smokey flavour and I loved the sweet pops of fish roe.
Soft shell crab agedashi tofu - lightly battered tofu, tempura soft shell crab and dashi broth
The agedashi tofu with soft shell crab was served next. I thought the tofu was great. It was really light and soft with a delicate, crunchy coating. It was really hot too so we could tell it was fresh from the kitchen. The soft shell crab was crispy but had too much of a fishy flavour for me.
Large sashimi platter
We ordered a large sashimi platter and this was beautifully laid out as a garden on a plate. At first glance, there was less salmon than I liked but I the pristine tuna more than made up for it. It must be the only case of me enjoying tuna more than salmon sashimi. I have heard that in Japan, it is the tuna that is more revered and now I can see why.
Chicken karaage - fried marinated chicken
The karaage chicken was also cooked fresh to perfection. It came with a dollop of creamy Japanese mayonnaise and sliced lemon. I was getting quite full by this point so I grudgingly let Marc have most of this chicken.
Pork robata grill skewers
For our meat component, we chose some pork skewers. The marinade was good and the all-important charred aroma was present but the pork itself was a tad tough for me. I suppose chicken would have been a better choice but I didn't want repetition after the karaage.
Moga Izakaya was more upmarket than is ideal for an unplanned Tuesday night dinner but aside from that, the food and ambience is fantastic. Marc probably could have done with another dish or two to fill him up but I was left satisfied. I loved the agedashi tofu and karaage chicken best. The food came out a bit too quickly for my liking but the service was really nice and friendly.