A local duo is bringing its wildly-popular chef’s table creations to the big show with a new restaurant, Abandon Izakaya, aimed at permanently showcasing their street food savvy.
The culinary minds behind Abandon Izakaya have already made a name for themselves in Tampa Bay, earning rave reviews for their chef’s table appearances and becoming a cult favorite before even opening a brick and mortar. Starting this October, the duo will be bringing their globally-influenced street food to the Bay on a daily basis with the opening of their restaurant in Seminole.
Located at 7570 Starkey Road, Abandon Izakaya is aiming to open in early October (stay tuned to I Love The Burg for an official opening date) and will offer globally-influenced street food at affordable prices in a relaxed setting. “Izakaya” is Japanese for “pub,” and the owners plan to bring that warm and welcoming atmosphere to their new venture.
Co-owner Mitch Beardsley, originally from the Philippines, will man the grill, while fellow co-owner Chanse Chanthalansy, himself from Laos, is a classically-trained French chef and will take on the head chef role. While the initial menu will have a heavy Asian influence, Beardsley cautions that just because they’re Asian, it doesn’t mean all the food will be. The duo will be employing all the styles and tastes they’ve discovered through their travels across the globe.
“We’re going to make food from all over the world. We just happen to be Asian and we’re going to start with that,” Beardsley explained. “We have more of a free concept. People ask us, ‘Is it Asian, is it American?’ To us, it’s whatever the hell we want. Street food is street food.”
Expect a variety of bowls, seafood and grilled meats
In a concept that Beardsley calls “street food-slash-speak easy,” their No. 1 goal is to bring creative street food to a relaxed, pub-like atmosphere where people can hang out and enjoy themselves.
Among the anticipated offerings, Beardsley and Chanthalansy have perfected a variety of dishes including massive ramen bowls, hand-rolled dumplings, fresh pastas, seafood, lamb chops, sirloin, ceviches and wagyu beef. The pair plans to source as many of their ingredients from local places as possible, taking advantage of the many farms, fishermen and natural resources of the area.
On one day, Beardsley explained, that might mean a sauce made from local kumquats. On another, they could make a special with deer someone brings in. They also might make burgers, tacos or yakitori – just depends what they can find.
“Anything we can get our hands on that’s unique,” he said, “we’ll put it into a dish.”
Abandon Izakaya aims for approachable, affordable culinary delights
Perhaps the biggest driving force behind Abandon Izakaya, however, is a desire to serve creative and unique international food in a decidedly non-pretentious fashion (and at equally non-pretentious prices.) They aren’t trying to compete with the fancy foodie destinations or elite restaurants of the world. As they are quick to quip, it’s street food, and ramen noodles shouldn’t run you 20 bucks.
“We’re not gonna jack the price up just because it’s different,” Beardsley said. “We know what street food is. We eat street food because it’s good. It’s adventure food. In the long run, it will show people that this food exists out there, and it’s for everyone. We’re just doing our own thing and doing it with quality.”
Serving up those fresh eats alongside their beer and wine menu, Abandon Izakaya is hoping to be a place that people can be comfortable hanging out, spending time and enjoying good food. Their goal isn’t to turn tables quickly, but rather to make sure the tables they have are having fun.