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Japanese Coo Izakaya Review (Owned by Iori)

By megaJames - 16 September 2009 23

Coo IzakayaI haven’t written about any dinning experiences for a while but after visiting the new Japanese BBQ place in the bus interchange last night it promoted me to share…

Let me start by saying that Iori is one of my top 5 favorite places to eat in Canberra. So knowing that Coo Izakaya is owned by them and only a few doors down gave me some pretty high expectations.

There was four of us for dinner and everything started out well. The menu was okay, not as extensive as Iori but similar style and a little cheaper. We each ordered a starter and a main. Starters (hand rolls) were around $5 each and my main, Chicken Teriyaki  skewers, were $18 with no rice – that was extra. Other mains were all around $20 each.The rolls were very average. My California roll contained a thin sliver of salmon with lots of rice. So for $5 I shouldn’t expect a lot but you get double the good stuff and much better quality at Sushi Sushi in the Canberra Centre for almost half the price.

The main was nicer however the chicken had a lot of fat on it and too chewy for my liking. The serves were tiny. We wanted to share all the main dishes but found that they were all so scant that we each barely got one mouth full from each dish. Pretty poor for dishes that were all around the $20 mark.

I’ve saved the best to last…Two starters came out first. Then about 30 minutes later two of the mains came out, followed by the other two starts another 10 minutes later. Finally the last two mains came out about 10 minutes after the last two starters. Including us, the place only had three small tables of people at the time, so there was no way the kitchen couldn’t keep up.

I spoke to a mate today who regularly travels to Japan and he told me that Izakaya are a type of bar in Japan where you can get food with your drinks – similar to the Spanish Tapas concept. The only problem with Coo Izakaya is that it’s setup as a restaurant not a bar. So you go there expecting it to be an eatery not a bar. To be honest  I can’t recall anything that would suggest to me that it should be some kind of drinking venue as opposed to an eatery.

Would be really keen to hear what other people think of it. Perhaps I went there on a bad hair night!?

What’s Your opinion?

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23 Responses to
Japanese Coo Izakaya Review (Owned by Iori)
nanzan 6:54 pm 17 Sep 09

Can any one give us any more information on how Tasuke is since it revamped itself into a noodle bar a few weeks ago?

To me it has always seemed the most authentic and reasonably priced in Canberra.

I always liked the menu in hand-drawn format around the walls, with text in both Japanese and English. Very atmospheric.

Tasuke always had good cakes and sweets too.

ahappychappy 6:25 pm 17 Sep 09

If you’re after good sushi – Mee’s Sushi in Manuka. Well priced, and I don’t eat sushi from anywhere else anymore.

byt2007 4:49 pm 17 Sep 09

Currently my favourite is Hanami on Beaufort in Mt Lawley — opposite the National Bank. But I’ve also enjoyed excellent food at Senoji in East Vic Park of all places, and Halu in Mt Hawthorn (though that is a bit pricier). Growing up my favourite place in the whole of Perth was Mr Teriyaki at the Midland Junction Markets (next door the ice creamery, mmm) but Mr Teriyaki got cancer and I’ve never had such good (or cheap) Japanese food ever since.

As for cheap takeaway sushi — any of the places in Forrest Chase give Canberran sushi a beating. Sushi Sushi is perhaps marginally tastier than Jaws.

The one time I did a sushi train in Canberra, I wanted to vomit, the food was so disgusting. However I have enjoyed many many sushi trains in Perth — couldn’t tell you their names unfortunately.

Meg4n 4:17 pm 17 Sep 09

Sooo byt2007, I’m going to run with clearly you and I obviously having different experiences of eating out in Perth and Canberra, and ask where in Perth do you get this awesome and cheap Japanese?

I’d like to try it out and compare to Iori, which I don’t mind in it’s charmingly Canberran way. And I’m always appreciative of some good value grub!

byt2007 2:43 pm 17 Sep 09

QF — I completely agree!

I am very resentful of the Japanese restaurant situation in Canberra.

I feel the same way, as though we are being tricked by restaurant owners who think we don’t know any better.

Japanese food in Canberra is rubbish! I include Iori in this sentiment not because the food is actually bad, but because it is eye-poppingly overpriced. The cheapest take away sushi in Perth is more delicious than the highway robbery sushi at Iori. Sushi Sushi in the Canberra Centre is tolerable, but I think overall Japanese eateries in Canberra are missing out on fresh seafood and good rice.

I can’t believe how delicious the sushi is whenever I return to Perth — the rice has so much more flavour, and the texture of the rice is just not to be compared to Canberra’s terrible refrigerated sushi.

Iori is of a quality that would suit a quickie cheap lunch in Perth — but here in Canberra it’s as expensive as a white-linen dinner at Courgette or Aubergine. In Perth I can get $14 teriyaki beef that leaves the $35 teriyaki beef served at Iori in the dust — whether or not it is Wagyu in Perth, it is more tender with tons more flavour!

Oh, my mouth is watering in anticipation of all the Japanese food I will eat in Perth in two weeks’ time — not to mention the dim sum and the porchetta and the fresh seafood.

geminisc 2:34 pm 17 Sep 09

I’ve just moved into canberra, and am frankly appalled at the lack of decent japanese food. i went to one on marcus clarke – and even though the owners spoke japanese, it was the first time i’d ever eaten mushy udon…..

having said all of this, i just discovered tasuke on alinga this week and have been very happy with their chirashi. i went back for seconds yesterday and was only slightly disappointed with their sushi box – the rice was a bit gluggy. but so far this is the only one that has managed to capture my attention in terms of decent cuts of salmon and tuna.

i will now need to check out coo and iori!

Avy 1:25 pm 17 Sep 09

+1 for c9 and QF.

What I wouldn’t give for a decent Tonkatsu Ramen here. Problem is, even if I did find it they would want to charge $25+ for it.

OF 10:39 pm 16 Sep 09

I am very resentful of the Japanese restaurant situation in Canberra.

I categorise all the Japanese restaurants here I have tried as unpleasant, awful, or inedible. All are overpriced.

I find Iori rather poor (although it is not the worst Japanese restaurant in Canberra). It’s authentic, yes, but it doesn’t mean it’s good. It reminds me of the kind of restaurants you would find near the train station in a very quiet Japanese country town where there is hardly any competition. It is a shabby restaurant making their business by feeding those unfortunate people who happen to be there at lunch time and couldn’t find anything else nearby.

Frankly I don’t know why we cannot have reasonably priced decent Japanese restaurant in Canberra. To make decent Japanese food, you don’t necessarily have to have all the expensive fish or special ingredients. Although fish is an important part of Japanese diet, it’s not the only thing they eat.

There are some decent ones in Melbourne and Sydney. Why can’t we have one of those here???

c9 8:56 pm 16 Sep 09

The problem is that Japanese food in Canberra (and most places outside Japan for that matter) is seen as luxurious for which a premium price can be charged. I think there’s definately a lack of competition in Canberra, and would look forward to a Japanese restaurant trading on more than the fact the they serve Japanese food. I ate at Iori a few years ago and didn’t find it all that good value, but am astounded to hear that they can still fill their tables and turn people away.

seekay 3:24 pm 16 Sep 09

The “new Japanese BBQ place in the bus interchange.”

What typically Canberran ambience!

Mr Waffle 3:13 pm 16 Sep 09

Izakayas are Japanese pubs, yes. The izakayas I’ve been to are about hanging out with the working class locals snacking on numerous small plates of various food while drinking heartily and chatting and laughing until closing time, it’s a very warm and friendly environment. Haven’t been to Coo, but frankly Iori is the worst run excuse of a restuarant I’ve ever been to*, so I’m not even bothering to try it.

*I’ve been twice, and both times they’ve forgotten orders that were booked weeks in advance, brought out mains before entrees, not served rice with the mains that are meant to get it (practically a hanging offense imo, it’s like a steak without veg and chips), taken forever to bring out what food they did bother cooking… the only way I can imagine the place actually survives is that there isn’t much competition.

nanzan 3:05 pm 16 Sep 09

We visited for dinner two Fridays ago and were very happy with the food – we didn’t order sushi – and the service, although two of the (non-Japanese) waiters were clearly in training mode.

It’s not at all like a Japanese “izakaya” however, which really is a bar that serves food to go with the drinks, and not the other way around.

It seems more like an extension of Iori, as if Coo was created to capture the people Iori has to turn away at night time because it has no more room, which is quite common.

How strange it is now that in Canberra the three truly authentic Japanese eateries – owned and staffed by Japanese people – are all within ten seconds walk of each other: Tasuke, Iori and now Coo! Iori and Coo are only 6 doors apart!!

By the way, Coo (Kuu in romanised Japanese) means to eat, but in a more informal way, like gobble, or woof down, or chow. And it is a good place for doing that, and cheaper than Iori, but maybe not quite as cheap and informal as Tasuke, just around the corner in Alinga Street, and my personal favourite Japanese eatery in Canberra – they just need to get an eftpos machine!

taco 12:58 pm 16 Sep 09

jackal said :

I miss the Vietnamese restaurant it replaced about two months ago, Phu Quoc, best pho (clear broth soup with beef and rice noodles) in Civic and cheap as 🙁

I’m disappointed that Phu Quoc closed down too. Only place I’ve seen avocado thick shakes, and their Pho was great.

I can also confirm that this new place is meant to have drinks as the feature – the food goes with the drinks

Warlie 10:56 am 16 Sep 09

I agree. I love Iori, but went at lunchtime to Coo and didn’t rate the sushi at all. Sushi Sushi has nicer takeaway and is a lot cheaper. I’ll still keep going to Iori for something special though.

jackal 9:56 am 16 Sep 09

I miss the Vietnamese restaurant it replaced about two months ago, Phu Quoc, best pho (clear broth soup with beef and rice noodles) in Civic and cheap as 🙁

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