I never thought that a trout head would be one of the best fish dishes I've ever eaten. Turns out, all that head needed was a little grilling to create a perfect pink, fatty, crispy richness.

It was an excellent way to finish off Gabe Rosen's take on the Japanese-style izakaya tavern, modernized with an impeccably manicured wine and cocktail list and larger Japanese comfort food offerings such as ramen, grilled rice balls and the lauded char siu pork and kimchi mayo-adorned burger.

Photo: Hilary Sander
Photo: Hilary Sander

Biwa dresses up or down nicely: It is easy to stop in for a quick bowl of ramen and beer, or to luxuriate with a two-plus-hour evening of sashimi, artfully grilled meats and vegetables, and a cocktail or three.

If you see grilled corn with sesame and miso butter, get it. And try some sake, for tradition's sake—don't worry: The staff expertly navigates the uninitiated through the deep and affordable selection.

Photo: Hilary Sander
Photo: Hilary Sander

Pro tip: Plan on sticking around for a while? Floss out with the omakase, which is where you'll get the best value.

GO: 215 SE 9th Ave., 239-8830, biwarestaurant.com. 5 pm-midnight nightly. $$.