Category Archives: Japanese

Iyasare – Berkeley, CA


1830 Fourth Street

Iyasare opened in late 2013 as part of the Bay Area Japanese food explosion that is going strong in 2016. The restaurant immediately received critical acclaim, earning a Bib Gourmand award in 2015 (not renewed in 2016).

What is unique about Iyasare is that they are not a cookie cutter Japanese restaurant.  They do not serve sushi, ramen, or the standard grilled/fried izakaya fare. instead, they take Japanese ingredients and flavors, and prepare dishes in a California-Japanese fusion way.  The result is innovative and often delicious.


We started off with a cocktail and a pour of sake.  The cocktail was the daily special, a bourbon based beverage.  The sake pour comes with the overflow vessel to show generosity.  Depending on who your pourer is, you can get more or less “generosity.”



Uzaku – Grilled Unagi

with Japanese eggplant, shitake mushrooms, ginger bulbs, tamari rice vinegar



The first dish we had was a saucy eel with some explosively flavorful mushrooms and eggplant.  The eel was soft and tender.  The wasbi added a nice spice compliment.

Ocean Umami

hokkaido scallop, ikura, sea urchin, fermented wasbi leaf, nori ponzu

Iyasare_03b_Ocean UmamiIyasare_03a_Ocean Umami This was my most highly dish of the night based on the description, ingredients, and previous photos I saw. The presentation lived up to the billing…it sits beautifully on the plate. The flavor was good but it did not have the impact I was expecting.

Octopus Terrine

black miso garlic, swooping farm lemon balm, romano beans, pickled okra, leek ash

Iyasare_04_Octopus Terrine

This dish wins for most unique and unexpected item for the night. The terrine was slightly gelatinous with a soft flavor that contrasted nicely with the rubbery chewy octopus.  The miso paste added a nutty component.

Mentaiko Spaghetti

spicy cod roe, reef squid, kaiware, shiso, garlic-ginger butter

Iyasare_05_Mentaiko PastaAnother delectable dish that is in a close race with the unagi as the best of the night.  The mentaiko added a creamy kick to the pasta that left me wishing that we ordered two.

Mediterranean Sea Bass

sea bass, uni, ikura, nori

Iyasare_06_Sea Bass

The off menu special of the day was a sea bass, deboned and served whole topped with similar ingredients as the Ocean Umami. The fish was meaty and juicy while the dashi-ponzu sauce was a mild, zesty compliment.

Fudge and Cheesecake Mochi


Dessert was six bite sized mochi balls.  Three fudge with a chocolate topping and three cheesecake with a strawberry hat. Both were light and refreshing; a satisfying end to the meal.

Iyasare is innovative. The Japanese flavors and ingredients are mostly there but the style and result as distinctly not traditional Japanese. The result is a well executed hybrid  of Japan and California that stands out amongst the flood of sushi houses offering edomae style omakase.

Iyasare changes the menu frequently enough that a return visit would not be a repeat visit at a price point that is in line with what should be the expectation in the Bay Area.

Kusakabe – FiDi, San Francisco


584 Washington Street

Kusakabe is an omakase only, kaiseki restaurant with a focus on edomae style sushi.  Said in plain English, a Japanese course menu designed with seasonal ingredients centered around traditionally prepared sushi.   Kusakabe falls into the same market as other newish Japanese restaurants such as Maruya and Saru among others we have yet to explore.

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Maruya – Mission, San Francisco

Maruya – Mission, San Francisco

Time: Saturday. June 18, 2014. 8:00 PM. Reservation.
Location: Mission, San Francisco
Address: 2931 16th St
Cuisine:  Japanese (sushi)
Party Size:  2 (M&V)
Order:  Masa-Hide Omakase
Pre-tip Cost: $ 387 [$356 food & drink; $31 tax]
Verdict:  Maruya is a strong contender in the ‘best sushi in SF’ discussion.

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Eiji – Castro, San Francisco

Time: Sunday. June 15, 2014. 7:00 PM. Reservation.
Location: Castro, San Francisco
Address: 317 Sanchez St
Website: none
Cuisine:  Japanese (tofu)
Party Size:  4 (M&V; M&E)
Order:  Various small plates, 2 homemade tofu, mixed nigiri, desserts
Pre-tip Cost: $140 [$129 food & drink; $11 tax]
Verdict:  Worth it for the house made tofu alone, the rest is just a bonus.

Continue reading Eiji – Castro, San Francisco