IZAKAYA: Japanese Tapas Home Recipes

by | Appetizers & Tapas, World Cuisine

How To Prepare Izakaya At Home

Japanese style, small-plate Tapas dishes of grilled meats, pickled vegetables, seafood and noodle dishes, for home dining. 

Japanese Dining At Home

Who am I to tell you about Japanese cuisine? Hah! If you only knew… no, if a production company would turn the television series scripts I have written, into a television show for you to watch, you would know why I am sharing with you my passion for Japanese cuisine and it’s culture. 


In short… I studied Japanese for three years at the Japan American Society in Washington DC, because I was so drawn to the culture. Named my first born son a Japanese name (even though his father is Korean, just to tick him off!).

My second son IS Japanese. There is much I could tell you about the fact that most Asian cultures look to Japanese food the way westerners do French food but for now I just want to wet your appetite to try something a little new, at home. 


Izakaya: Small Plate Japanese Tapas

How do I love eating small plate style dining? Let me count the ways! Izakaya is an informal ‘meet-up’ dining and drinking place with an array of small plate Japanese dishes that will have you leave full and never return to entree dish style eating again!

Unfortunately, many towns across America do not have Izakaya places, so I wanted to explore the many Japanese food options that could be easily prepared in nearly everyone’s home. 

Japanese Food

While there are a multitude of Asian style recipes, my most favorite have always been for Japanese food. Grilled meats on little skewers, seafood prepared in a vast variety of ways, yet never bogged down with oil or swimming in sauces. Healthy, sometimes spicy yet not saucy and always beautifully presented. 


Izakaya Is Japanese Comfort Food

Sharing plates of familiar dishes found in most Japanese restaurants, yet prepared at home, such as:

  • Yakitori – grilled meat, though ‘tori’ refers to chicken, most yakitori served in restaurants are a variety of meats
  • Tamago – rolled egg omelette often with seaweed, soy sauce and a pinch of sugar
  • Gyoza – dumplings filled with meat, seafood or vegetables
  • Tsukemono – pickled or preserved vegetables
  • Noodle Dishes – a variety of noodles made from wheat, buckwheat, rice, mung bean, even seaweed 
  • Shifudo, Always Shifudo – Seafood, yet not sushi or sashimi

Home Cooking Izakaya

Is it possible to duplicate an Izakaya experience at home? Of course! They are simply a variety of many small plates beautifully displayed in Japanese style dining. If ever there was a culture that first eats with their eyes, surely it is the Japanese culture! 

Mukimono is the Japanese art of carving vegetables into unusual and beautiful shapes. While we may not wish to spend so much time with this lovely art form for our home Izakaya experience, the addition of eatable flower buds or peddles can surely satisfy the eye before reaching into a communal dish with your chopsticks!


How To Make Izakaya Sauce For Several Cold Plates

Since many of the dishes are served cold or room temperature, except items placed on a tabletop grill, I will share with you two of my most favorite sauces that can be incorporated into noodles dishes, seafood dishes, or vegetable dishes.

One is a sweet and sour dressing while the other a hot yet smooth coconut dressing. Both have a kick of heat to them and both bring out the flavors in any of the dishes from noodles to a lovely prepared squid!

Preparing The Ingredients For an Izakaya Spread

Once the selection of items you plan to serve have been beautifully cut, gently steamed, or lightly grilled, set them each out in front of you and decide which dressing best matches the items you have chosen.

For example, a lightly boiled noodle might be enhanced by the coconut dressing while a fish item would benefit from the sweet and sour dressing that is made with dried fish flakes.

Since many of the items are served cold or room temperature, plan accordingly to your personal taste.  

Meat and Seafood Japanese Style

Ingredients Needed

  • Rice vinegar
  • Sugar
  • Chili flakes
  • Toasted sesame seed oil
  • Spring onions
  • Soy sauce
  • Bonito flakes
  • Coconut milk
  • Lime juice
  • Coconut oil
  • Garlic
  • Chili peppers
  • Fish sauce
Veggies Chopped At An Angle

Equipment Needed

  • Sauce pan
  • Measuring cup
  • Measuring spoons
  • Cutting board
  • Chopping knife
  • Citrus press
  • Garlic press
  • Cooking spoon
  • Stovetop or burner

IZAKAYA: Japanese Tapas Home Recipes

Recipe by Robin DaumitCourse: Appetizers u0026amp; Tapas, World CuisineCuisine: Japanese



Japanese style, small-plate Tapas dishes of grilled meats, pickled vegetables, seafood and noodle dishes, for home dining. 


  • Sweet and Sour Dressing

  • Rice Vinegar – 1/2 cup, rice, coconut or one of your choice

  • Sugar – 1/3 cup

  • Chili flakes – a pinch or to taste

  • Toasted sesame seed oil – 1/4 cup

  • Soy sauce – 1/4 cup

  • Spring onions – 1/3 cup, finely chopped

  • Bonito flakes – 1/2 teaspoon (dried fish flakes)

  • Coconut Dressing

  • Coconut milk – 1/2 cup

  • Lime juice – 3 tablespoons

  • Coconut oil – 1 tablespoon

  • Garlic – 2 cloves, crushed

  • Chili peppers – a pinch, or to taste

  • Fish sauce – 2 teaspoons


  • Sweet and Sour Dressing
  • Place the vinegar and sugar into a saucepan, bring to a simmer to dissolve the sugar and cool.
  • Whisk in the chili flakes, spring onions, sesame oil and soy sauce.
  • Toss with vegetables, cold seafood, or cold noodles and serve.
  • Coconut Dressing
  • In a saucepan, warm the coconut milk and coconut oil until they dissolve.
  • Remove from the heat and whisk in the remaining ingredients.
  • Toss with freshly sautéed squid, steamed noodles or beautifully cut vegetables.
Izakaya – Japanese Tapas Home Recipes

My Muffin Madness


In my family, I’ve always been known as the ‘Muffin Queen’. Out of necessity, I created muffins for breakfast, lunch, on the go snacks, sometimes dinner and a sweet yet healthyish treat for dessert!

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