Today’s guest blogger is (drum roll please): Paul from PaulSeesTheWorld……ha ha I am still on an extended blogging break however I had such a wonderful food experience recently that I just couldn’t wait to tell you about it.
I was not previously familiar with the Japanese term Izakaya. When a friend recommended the 10 course tasting menu at Double Knot, an Izakaya-style restaurant in center city Philadelphia, I was interested. Jump to the end of this post if you want to know more about Izakaya and the “glory-ful” history of this location. I’m going to start with the food because that’s what its all about.
Double Knot Chef’s Tasting Menu
Always a fan of tasting menu’s, Double Knot’s Chef Tasting Menu includes 10 courses plus Mochi for dessert. Take a look at what the kitchen made for us:
Course 1 – Salmon Sashimi
Delightfully fresh salmon served with Spicy Ponzu and Soy Ginger. Off to a refreshing start.
Course 2 – Kobe Beef Robatayaki
A charcoal grilled Kobe Beef on a skewer – juicy, tasty, and straight-forward. Loved it.
Course 3 – Albacore with Onion Ponzu
The freshness of the albacore and the sweet and tart mix of the ponzu, which was more like a marmalade than a relish, made for another refreshing course but with more complex flavors than the first course. This was probably my favorite course.
Course 4 – Pork Scallion Robatayaki
A charcoal grilled pork loin covered with scallion. Fortunately I had a bit of my double knot drink remaining because grilled pork and scallion washed down a smokey bourbon and rye drink is beyond a taste – it is a total feeling, and a good one at that.
Course 5 – Crispy Shrimp Taco
Nice size shrimp served in a crispy shell with radish, chili, avocado. Perfectly balanced.
Course 6 – Yellowtail Roll
To me these days a sushi roll is a sushi roll, sort of a been there done that. What can make a sushi roll stand out: notable freshness (off all ingredients) and balance. Double Knots yellowtail roll stood out on both counts.
Course 7 – Scallion Cake
A pan fried battered scallion cake – who would have thought this would be another of my standout favorites of the night. The frying replaced the sharpness of the scallions with a sweetness and slight peppery flavor. I could not stop eating them.
Course 8 – Crispy Brussels Sprouts
I love Brussels sprouts. The spouts were appropriately smaller and sweet as they should be in the colder months (I would never eat them in July for example). The mild shishito pepper and fish sauce enhanced the flavor and crispy rice kept the crunchy going in the texture. Again another example of getting the balance perfect.
Course 9 – Broiled Sea Bass
The sea bass was cooked through just to the point of flaking, left wonderfully moist. The restaurant was restrained in using the savory soy sauce infused with the earthy truffle oil so that it perfectly complemented the sweet fish as opposed to overpowering it. Very nice.
Course 10 – Duck Bibimbap
This was the only course that got mixed reviews, mostly because of the very rare egg. The duck was pleasant but the egg, once broken open, overpowered the quantity of the rice and the taste of the duck, even when mixed into the rice. Although it looks wonderful in the picture, it became more of an egg dish than a duck dish, not bad but certainly not balanced.
Mochi – Ice Cream Wrapped in a Rice Cake
Ice cream wrapped in a glutenous rice is simple happiness. Being that it was a Sunday night on a busy weekend, they had only two flavors remaining that evening: strawberry and pistachio. And being that I am beyond charming (and taking pictures of everything), the waitress kindly let me have both flavors.
I wish I took a picture of her holding the beautiful wooden freezer box which held the mochi. It was a satisfying end to a wonderful and satisfying night.
Double Knot’s Bar
Anyone who knows me knows that any great meal starts with a great cocktail. The house drink at Double Knot is ironically named The Double Knot. It is a mix of Bourbon, Rye, Sweet Vermouth, Dry Vermouth, and Bitters, in a glass full of Barrel Stave Smoke which gives the mix a rustic smokey taste without overwhelming.
Trust me these can sneak up on a person – two is plenty.
Others in our party had a Pocket Knot as their second drink – Scotch, Lemongrass Tea Honey, Ginger, Yuzu. Well received.
Double Knot’s Space
Double Knot is entered at street level and connects to its sister restaurant Sampan. The main floor has a large bar and limited couch and armchair seating. The hostess station is at the back of the bar. Once your table is ready you are escorted downstairs into a funky space with a large sushi bar and another bar.
The ambiance is dark and seafaring, highlighted with candles and basement objects. The tables are eclectic and comfortable.
120 South 13th Street
Loosely translated, an Izakaya is similar to a pub where you can enjoy drinks and hang for a long time, eat small plates slowly, and enjoy more drinks – often in a more intimate and casual room than a formal restaurant.
Double Knot converted the former basement/playroom of the “historic” Sansom Street Cinema, a gay-themed cinema from the pre-internet and online “dating” days, into an Izakaya. Who would have thought? I guess that is why the food is so orgasmic.