Izna Brings Traditional Japanese to the Market District
What the $!*% is DonburI??
Donburi, which literally means “bowl”, is a traditional Japanese meal consisting of a bowl of rice with some topping such as chicken, fish, meat, vegetables and a whole bunch of other possible additions
From the second I spotted the newly installed storefront and signage of Izna Donburi House, just east of Frederick on King, I knew I had to check it out. Located in Kitchener’s Market District, which houses many of DTK’s hidden food gems, Izna is bringing authentic Japanese cuisine to Waterloo Region.
The first time I had the chance to try Izna was after Craftoberfest, a great addition to Oktoberfest held in the Kitchener Market and featuring tons of locally crafted beers and food. Although Japanese is not your typical post- Oktoberfest grub, it was exactly what we needed. I know what you’re thinking… how could I give an accurate review of the food after a night of beer tasting?! But don’t fret- I made my way back to get the full dinner experience.
However, there are a few things that I want to point out from that night. It was about 12:30pm as four of us strolled down the well-lit, festive stretch of King Street outside the market. My foodie partner-in-crime, Stacey Sage, who works on initiatives such as Love Local Food, Real Food Creative and with local food marketing agency Rees + Stager, had also been dying to try this place out so we peered in, wondering if they would still serve us at that hour. Well not only did they serve us, they allowed us to order from the entire menu and brought us the most delicious combination of sweet, spicy, fried, refreshing and filling dishes. On top of that, four foodie ladies post- Craftoberfest at 12:30pm can get a little rowdy and demanding but the staff were extremely accommodating!
We even had the chance to chat with the head chef/ owner/ decorator after our meal. Right from the beginning, Chris Lee and his wife Michelle Hong conceptualized the entire restaurant right down to the design, menu, staffing and experience. He even managed the entire construction project and bought all of the accessories! They had previous experience running a restaurant in Uptown; a Korean Restaurant and Bar called the Famous Owl of Minerva and their skills and knowledge show through.
Anyways… I bet you really just want to know what we ate and how delicious it was so here we go:
Pork Dumplings (10/10, ordered them both times and been craving them since)
Hot, crispy, great sauce, exactly what you’d expect from a good tempura
As someone who has literally grown up on dimsum (my family tradition is Sunday brunch at our favourite dimsum spot), I have to say that this particular dish is not as great as other shumai that I have had. That being said, my partner devoured it and said it was one of his favourites!
Sweet Potato Noodles
This one is a dish that will be ordered again and again. It is a great choice for vegetarians and is packed with yummy vegetables but super filling and great to share.
A heaping, warm, filling bowl of Udon soup is a staple for me in the Winter… and now I know exactly where to get it! With an incredibly generous serving size and silky, thick Udon noodles, Izna is serving up this traditional Japanese soup like it should be. They also offer a ramen alternative which is on my list to try.
Considering we are at a Donburi restaurant, it wouldn’t feel complete without ordering a Don-something. The Izna Don came piled high with beef, kimchi, avocado, edamame, an assortment of veggies, tofu, seaweed and a combination of delicious sauces. The portion was huge so even between the two of us, we had lots to take home.
** This article was written in partnership with DTK Kitchener’s Restaurant Review Pilot Program. To learn more information about how you can support local, eat amazing food and get Downtown Dollars, give us a shout!