Ilza Izakaya and Snack Bar is a 25-seat spot by husband-and-wife duo Han Oh and Erin Kim. The pair met while working at Nobu’s Melbourne location – Kim in the kitchen where she started as an apprentice and worked her way up to sous-chef, and Oh on the floor and as a junior sommelier. They also run Tokyo-inspired spots in Docklands, Box Hill South and Nunawading.

The couple are Korean, but Kim’s culinary training is Japanese. While Kim mostly uses Japanese ingredients and techniques at Ilza, she brings in some Korean ingredients too. One example is in spicy teriyaki sauce, in which Kim “twists” Japanese teriyaki sauce with Korean gochujang.

Ilza’s standout lunch offerings are all on the table here. There’s Kim’s corn cheese harumaki, a Korean-American dish combining canned corn, mayonnaise and cheese, which she wraps in a rice paper roll and fries. There’s also her signature hamburger curry udon, a Japanese curry served with a hamburger patty that is filled with cheese, battered, and then fried.

Dinner is filled with dishes largely inspired by the izakaya restaurants Kim visited on trips to Osaka. There’s hibachi-grilled yakitori, raw dishes like kingfish crudo and salmon tartare, and croquettes filled with mozzarella and served with jalapeno mayo to.

Kim’s food is made to pair well with Oh’s cocktails. Popular alcoholic offerings include the Peach Hana, which mixes lychee and peach soju with Cointreau and house-made strawberry jam, the Vodka Highball and the Yuzu Margarita. There’s also a small selection of sake and Japanese beers on offer.

While working at Nobu, Kim used to bake as a form of meditation and relaxation on her days off. Now, she uses her sweet skills at work and develops all the recipes for Ilza’s dessert offerings. These include strawberry shortcake; orange, matcha and black sesame Basque cheesecakes and matcha tiramisu.

Contact Details

Phone: 0430 712 234


Updated: September 4th, 2023

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