By Dan Paris
Izakaya dates back to the Edo Period (1603) as a drinking establishment. Gradually, inexpensive menu items such as sashimi yakitori, pickled dishes, and rice and noodles were added. Currently, Izakaya restaurants are the most popular dining and drinking venues in Japan.
Partners Osamu Sagara and Darrel Baum decided to move from Los Angeles to open a Japanese home goods store in Palm Springs. They travel to Japan every year to keep up with current trends in dining and food preparation. Their store features typical Japanese groceries, sake, beer, an extensive collection of cutleries, cookware, pottery, jewelry, Bonsai plants, women’s clothing, and travel, design, and recipe books.
My introduction to Wabi Sabi was a Saturday evening cooking class on preparation of a few Izakaya appetizers with sake pairings. It is as if owners, Darrel and Osamu (Sam) invited you into their house for a convivial evening of sake and Japanese tapas. Their enthusiasm for the cuisine and culture is infectious. We started with a tubular fishcake cut into rounds and stuffed with a small piece of asparagus, drizzled with soy and a dab of wasabi. Next it was wafer-thin slices of turnip flavored with yuzu (Japanese citrus) juice and shoyu. In addition to the appetizers, we were treated to cold sake tastings with complex flavor profiles ranging from floral, citrus, mineral, and smoky. I have only tried warm sake at sushi bars and these flavors were a revelation to my taste buds. Sake tastings are available during business hours and cooking classes are offered weekly and are reasonably priced.
Wabi Sabi is stocked with authentic cooking ingredients and tools sourced directly from Japan. If you would like to explore Japanese cuisine beyond sushi and tempura and learn more about a different culture, I encourage you to take a cooking class and enjoy a fun night out in their downtown Palm Springs location.
300 N. Palm Canyon Drive Palm Springs, CA 92262 (760) 537-3838
Monday – Friday – 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. & 5:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Saturday – Sunday – 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.