Finally I can post about my experience at Dan Izakaya. This place won my vote for my favorite logo of 2013. It took this long because I have a story about what brought me here. It has a little bit to do with this DVD.
The producers of the Bizarre Foods America show hosted by my foodie idol, Andrew Zimmern, contacted me when they were looking for bizarre foods in San Jose for the recently aired Bay Area episode. They had already researched a couple dishes and I also suggested some but their biggest challenge was to reach out to restaurant owners and convince them to be on the show. Sometimes it's hard reaching ethnic mom and pop shops to convince them to be on a television show about crazy food. Not quite the publicity some restaurants would want. Some businesses hear "television" and immediately think they're selling ad space. This is where my childhood's worth of learning Vietnamese by watching Vietnamese dubbed melodramas with my parents came in handy. I made a few calls to Mezcal and Bun Bo Hue An Nam to speak with the owners and tell them about the show. The producers also sent me out to Dan Izakaya to try and reach the owners. That's how I found myself here on a week night. We had a regular dinner but I talked to the owner's wife and got his contact information for the producers.
The shop is located in a small plaza in west San Jose. I would never think to go here for Japanese food. Like all izakaya's, they served drinking food. Small plates that hit the umami spot when you're drinking.
($5.50) Agedashi tofu
Twas ok, just the usual
($8.75) Grilled salted whole squid
Pretty good. Nice and springy.
($13.50) Rainbow California Roll
Not so good. It was just meh or a little below meh. How odd that the most normal thing we ordered was the least tasty.
The ankimono was good as usual but I do note that it is $2 more than at Gaku Yakitori and tastes the same. However I think the portion is slightly larger.
($16.50) Large salmon roe with uni over rice in a stone bowl
Phil really liked this. It's basically a mixed rice with pops of salty salmon roe and briney uni in each bite.
The service at Dan Izakaya was attentive enough. It's family owned and maybe family run as well. The owner's wife I spoke with that night was very nice. The food is just ok. Better than just ok but I've had alot of these dishes before and Dan does not take the top spot for any of them.
I hear their sister restaurant, Rokko in Sunnyvale is much better. The owner spends most of his time there. I wouldn't really recommend Dan Izakaya unless you're nearby and it's convenient. You will not be disappointed but you will not be amazed either. I would like to try Rokko though.
Dan Izakaya on Yelp
Rokko on Yelp
If you already saw the Bay Area episode of Bizarre Foods, you know that they did not choose to film Dan Izakaya. They chose Gaku Yakitori instead. That's also why I went to Gaku. It was not an assignment but since I know the producers chose Gaku, I had to try it out. As you recall from my posting, Gaku was great and definitely worth the air time.
For my efforts in contacting the owners of Bun Bo Hue An Nam to pitch the show's interest in them, I received my own copy of the master cut of the DVD. Below is a screen capture of my name in the credits at the end of the episode. I've never been so proud to see my name over a photo of ox penis being cut up. For your curiosity, I have never eaten the ox penis soup because my mom said it's not for women and she scared me off ever since.
Thank you to the producers and coordinators at Tremendous Entertainment for the opportunity.