During our adventures in the American West last week, we visited the highly esteemed and oft-recommended Japanese-style mountain spa, Ten Thousand Waves. There, we enjoyed a day of lounging in the beautifully placed hot grand pool, moving every now and then from the warm water to their (very very) cold plunge pool, into the bamboo-and-teak sauna next-door, and back into the grand pool again, giving our bodies a relaxing, therapeutic run of the gauntlet before checking into some much-needed massage sessions.
I know. Woe is us.
Best of all, in my opinion, at least, we got to visit the spa’s Japanese izakaya, Izanami, with its impressive views of the surrounding mountains, extensive list of libations, and vegan-friendly menu.
For anyone not already familiar with izakayas, they’re essentially Japanese pub-style restaurants that focus on drinks and drinking food; so, less sushi + formality, more quick, shared, rich dishes + fun. Which explains how the trend of Izakaya-style restaurants has spread so quickly in the State of late.
On our visit, we enjoyed some Japanese microbrew beers, a nice flight of rosé, and their daily sake special, which—as they promise on their Web site—trends to the more sophisticated palette with a deeper, less sticky-sweet taste than your common sake.
The vegan-friendly food centered around freshly made, simple vegetable-based dishes—like the chilled double soup of puréed carrot + sweet pepper (above); richly togarashi-marinated hot edamame itame; house-made pickles of seaweed-mushroom, red cabbage kimchi, and saffron squash (below); and the vegan bento box with (below, clockwise from left) wilted spinach with ponzu-sesame dressing, vegetables with sesame-miso sautéed eggplant, additional house-made pickles of mushroom, seaweed, and carrot-burdock, rice, and vegan tofu dengaku.
The izakayu also offers a number of rice and noodle dishes, like the surprisingly delectable onigiri rice ball and their buckwheat noodles (both below).
I have no idea if the restaurant’s namesake is in fact Izanami-no-Mikoto—the mythical Japanese goddess of creation and death whose name means “she who invites”—but if it is, it’s very fitting; many would be happy to die after a meal at this inviting, beautiful establishment. Definitely, if you’re planning a trip to the Santa Fe area of just looking for added incentive to plan a trip, Ten Thousand Waves + Izanami can offer you a lovely day of pampering and wonderful food + drink.
And yes, you can totally eat in your robe. Just watch your sleeve on the soup portion of the meal.