Palates

Two Ten Jack : Japanese-inspired Izayaka

iz·a·ka·ya

/ēˈzäkəyə,ēzəˈkīə/

noun: izakaya; plural noun: izakayas

  1. a type of Japanese bar in which a variety of small, typically inexpensive, dishes and snacks are served to accompany the alcoholic drinks.

After dozens of Yelp searches, menu perusal, and deliberation. I finally decided on a restaurant for my 17th birthday dinner: Two Ten Jack Nashville. If you know me, then you know I adore Japanese food and so I couldn’t pass up this place.

We had a pretty good sized party and my grandparents came too, so I was hopeful that they could accommodate and comfortably seat everyone, especially the elderly among us. I made a reservation for 7:30 and we arrived on time. They couldn’t seat us until the rest of our party arrived (which we knew before hand) so we waited in the foyer until they arrived. Two Ten Jack had a gorgeous outside eating area that I’d love to come back and explore when it isn’t 20 degrees.

Our party was completed by 7:40 but the party who had the table lingered. We waited quite a long time. The staff apologized over and over which was great, and it truly wasn’t their fault. Finally the previous party left and we were seated.

They led us to a back room with two long tables. On the wall, an anime movie was showing. I recognized it as a Studio Ghibli film because I’d watched it at a friends house. The table setting was modern: light wood tables, charcoal gray menus, architectural boxes to hold chopsticks, and rolled towels.

As we poured over our menus, our server came to explain how everything worked. The food is meant to be enjoyed communally, with everyone at the table partaking of a maki roll, yakitori skewer, or bowl of ramen. We ordered a plethora of dishes between us: crispy brussels, Japanese fried chicken, potato fries, Gojira roll, east side fish roll, and tonkotsu ramen. Everything tasted spectacular, but I want to highlight a couple of dishes.

The Gojira roll was a perfect balance of heat and texture. The habanero sriracha was subdued by the cream cheese, and the panko shrimp added a beautiful crunch.

Speaking of crunch, the Japanese fried chicken was spectacularly crispy. This was a crowd favorite at our table, with the only complaint being that there wasn’t enough of it.

A Japanese inspired take on the fish sandwich completely intrigued us, so we were thrilled to try the Eastside fish roll. The choice of hot sauce rice, rather than just hot sauce, was genius and set off the acidity of the pickles well. I’ve never had fried catfish in a maki roll before, and I must say, it was delicious.

One thing that stood out to me about the ramen was the richness of the pork broth. The chashu (pork belly) was fatty and had an amazing mouth feel.

Finally, one of my favorite dishes of the night: the crispy brussels. I’m a huge fan of brussel spouts and the addition of rice krispies, while unexpected, brought some beautiful texture. Furthermore, the miso vinaigrette provided some acidic saltiness and the brussels were cooked perfectly.

Eating at Two Ten Jack was a great experience. My grandfather used chopsticks for the first time, my family ate outside of their comfort zone, and we created a lot of beautiful memories.

Stay fly,

~Akilah

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