Izakaya Three Fish

Just before the world locked down for Covid in 2020 I paid a visit to the Sashimi Bar in Bozeman (you can read the original review here) and was thrilled to have found a world class Omakase experience right in my backyard. Sadly, due to Covid we never got back there until a couple of weeks ago. During the past 18 months two major changes have taken place, most importantly the name is no longer the Sashimi Bar, it is now Izakaya Three Fish and the best way to book a reservation is to send a direct message on IG . The second big change is that it is no longer Paul and Lance at the helm, but rather Paul and Travis in charge of the cuisine, assisted by Maddy at the Bar. There are several others who make the magic happen from the kitchen, all playing an important role in creating a sublime dining experience.

Set aside what you think of as traditional Omakase, the atmosphere at Izakaya Three Fish (ITF) is relaxed and friendly, and sometimes irreverent, but it goes without saying that the food is always expertly executed. Sitting at the counter and watching this crew deliver a five star meal comes complete with lots of laughs and some deep conversation. It is also likely you may become friends with the folks sitting next to you. It is hard to sufficiently explain how terrific this experience is. To quote some friends from out of town who recently had dinner at ITF, “it was life changing”. The $125 per head charge for dinner is worth every single penny (drinks and gratuity are additional).

Just to warn you, if you love Sashimi and Sushi, get ready to start salivating. We dined at Izakaya Three Fish twice in a two week period. The first time was a “normal” night and I will give a sense of what normal consists of. Crab, eel, scallops, octopus, caviar, Hamachi, Yellow Tail, salmon, incredible cocktails….

The menu changes nightly depending on what can be sourced and from where, with fish coming in from Japan, Hawaii, and the West Coast. Watching The guys work and create these ephemeral bites is a thrill. Be prepared for at least a 2 1/2 hour dinner, which sounds long, but it flies by.

There were courses (out of a total of 17 or 18) that I failed to capture (including a delectable serving of home-made ice cream), most likely due to the fact that I was too busy eating to snap a pic. This is the kind of dinner you can expect to enjoy if you join the crew for dinner.

Our second meal this month occurred this past weekend on Halloween Eve, a special collaboration between Izakaya Three Fish and Chef Austin from Rad Foods MT. We learned about this special evening, entitled Sumo, when we dined there earlier in the month. Paul informed us (bashfully) that it would be very expensive, but would be a night to remember. We signed on right then and there. For this event there were 20 people, more than the 10 the restaurant usually caters to, with the overflow sitting in the booths that ring the restaurant, but don’t usually come into play. The evening was pricy by Montana standards ($300 per person) but it included wine pairings throughout, music provided by Bozeman’s own Peter King, frontman for the Dead Yellers (fantastic), gratuity, and endless amounts of innovative and delicious food. We knew what Paul and Travis could do with fish, but Chef Austin raised the bar with his delicately smoked foie gras, meats, duck, and bone marrow. For this meal there was just one seating, and by then end of the evening everyone was dancing, and people were hugging their new friends. It was OUTSTANDING.

It was fortunate that my husband and I have complementary eating habits, he is allergic to oysters, mussels and clams, while I don’t eat meat or fowl. It turns out that I was in bivalve heaven on Saturday, and he was happy to devour all of my meat and duck courses. There was also a mother lode of Uni, which was a real treat.

I was not drinking (though the pairings looked to be fantastic) so Maddy came up with both an alcohol free sparkling wine for me, as well as a delectable mocktail that tasted like a creamsicle.

There was Wagyu, duck breast, smoked brisket sushi, bone marrow and smoked oysters on toasted Japanese Milk Bread.

We were practically bursting, but we couldn’t quit! Salmon roe, potato croquettes with sour cream and caviar accompanied by a vodka chaser, grilled duck hearts, beef chitlin’s with beef tartare and salmon roe, we finally had to say we were full. We couldn’t eat another bite.

Well, we thought we couldn’t eat another bite until we were presented with smoked buttermilk homemade ice cream topped with buckthorn coulis. Amazing. All the flavors of the evening ranged from delicate to complex, and all were unforgettable.

After the ice cream and the final cocktail, we enjoyed a few more songs from Peter King (and a last dance which the entire restaurant participated in) and said our goodbyes.

Izakaya Three Fish is a place that will linger in your taste buds and your memory. It is so unique, and we are blessed to have it right here in Bozeman, Montana. If you have not been, GO, and report back to me what you think; I am pretty confident you will love it as much as we do.

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