This may not be strictly Izakaya food but it goes perfectly well with a glass of red wine. This is rather low fat version of Italian meat balls with a marinara sauce but it has very light texture and tastes pretty good. I am not sure where I came up with this particular recipe but I may have seen it in one of the Food Channel shows at some time and modified it.
It starts with ground chicken. I used low fat (less than 1% fat) but you could use raw Italian sausage or ground pork if you are so inclined. For one package of ground chicken (1 lb or about 500 grams), I add 1 medium onion and 4-5 fresh shiitake mushrooms chopped and sauteed in olive oil and cooled, 1/2 tsp or more of freshly ground nutmeg (this is the most important seasoning, freshly ground nutmeg has much better flavor than the pre-ground), 1 tsp of salt and 1/2 tsp of freshly ground black pepper, and 1/2 cup of Japanses “panko” bread crumbs, and 2 beaten eggs. You could also add ground cayenne pepper to taste (optional). Mixed them all up using your hand until the mixture comes together. You may want to reserve a portion of the beaten eggs first and adding the rest depending on the consistency but I like it rather soft with 2 eggs. Using a small ice cream scoop to make small equal sized meat balls and I place them on a cookie sheet. Put them in a 350F oven for 15 minutes or until done. You could sauté or deep fry the meat ball but baking works best for us.
For the marinara sauce, I just use 1/3 cup of light olive oil, two 8 oz cans of whole plum tomatoes (crushed by hand), and chopped garlic (3-4 gloves), 2 bay leaves, salt, black pepper, 1/2 tsp of dried oregano or marjoram, and 1/2 of dried basel, 1/2 to 1 tbs of sugar (to cut acidity). Again you could add red pepper flakes with garlic if you so prefer.
I add chiffonade of fresh basel and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese when serving with an accompaniment of toasted baguette.