14/20

Iori

42 East Row, city, ACT

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Fresh and light, barra aria sashimi, Iori.
Fresh and light, barra aria sashimi, Iori. Photo: Jay Cronan

Catriona Jackson

Canberra Times Top 20 for 2012

Iori is a small, bustling place, tucked away with other good Japanese restaurants in East Row. Always full of regulars, it has real personality, warmth and great food, especially the raw fish and desserts.

People clearly enjoy Iori, which has good food, a relaxed atmosphere and a kooky sense of fun. 

Don’t miss the ‘‘bara aria’’ (pun intended), glorious wafer-thin slices of barramundi, crusted with salty little fish eggs, arranged on ice. A number of shared plates are available if you want the chef to do the thinking for you, but staples like salmon and tuna are beautifully fresh and well prepared, with the lovely textural cleanness of good raw fish. Slices of octopus are clean tasting, with a lovely just-resistant texture. Also teriyaki pork is a singular dish, really good slices of fillet, cooked just tender, in a not too-sweet soy-based sauce.

Wagyu Tataki at Iori
Wagyu Tataki at Iori Photo: Gary Schafer

The wine list has a welcome focus on sakes, plus a good range of beers and a large array of rather heavy Australian reds that would pose a challenge with most of the dishes. BYO is also good option, or you could start with a rather good ‘‘tsunami’’ – a sparkling lychee and muscat drink.

Service is prompt and attentive, with good menu advice readily given, and the place has a genial atmosphere. Tables are carefully fitted into the space, not so close so as to make intimate conversation impossible. One long, sunken table requires shoes off, and can be taken by a big group, or number of smaller ones.

People clearly enjoy Iori, with good food, a relaxed atmosphere and a kooky sense of fun. Monday to Wednesday you can choose a “mystery evening”, $60 or $100. It is the kind of restaurant regulars would rather keep to themselves. More than a decade on, it is way too late for that.

How we score: Food and Wine Annual Top 20

 

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42 East Row, city, ACT

  • Cuisine - Japanese
  • Features - Wheelchair access, BYO, Licensed
  • Chef(s) - Freddy Ng
  • Owners - Mamoru Aizawa
  • Opening Hours - Lunch Mon to Fri, dinner Mon to Sat
  • Author - Catriona Jackson
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