The sushi chefs at Yoko’s Japanese Cuisine artistically roll arrangements of eel, spicy tuna, and thick-sliced salmon for diners to prod with discerning chopsticks. The menu reads like a voracious mariner's Christmas list with its plethora of ocean-fresh goodies, such as traditional california rolls ($3.75), tied together with delicate ribbons of seaweed. King Kong specialty rolls ($7.95) swat away hunger as if it were a pesky airplane, daring tongues to scale a towering combination of hamachi, salmon, and crab to reach a pinnacle of spicy squid. The deep-fried Dangerous roll ($7.95) lives life on the plate’s edge with a bold assortment of fish, avocado, and scallions, and the spicy scallop salad creeps down the slopes of the crab- and unagi-packed Volcano roll ($7.95). Diners need not scan the ocean’s vast horizon to find vegetarian or cooked options, as herbivore-friendly shiitake mushroom rolls ($2.95) and grilled chicken-teriyaki entrees ($8.95) placate taste buds of all persuasions in the restaurant’s low-key dining room.
Barracuda Japanese Restaurant?s chefs tweak their selection of sushi rolls, teriyaki dishes, and noodle bowls to make sure that each of the eatery?s three locations offers a tailored menu. The restaurant?s namesake roll tops a core of soft shell crab and avocado with sliced salmon, mango, spicy mayo, unagi sauce, and tobiko. Other rolls showcase an eclectic spread of ingredients ranging from deep-fried spicy tuna and jalapenos to chicken and white wine sauce. The chefs even eschew rice in certain rolls, instead swaddling ingredients with iceberg lettuce, cucumber slices, and cozy blankets. Traditional Japanese cooked dishes also star on the menu, including spicy pork slathered in teriyaki sauce and tempera veggies submerged in udon soup.
Over the last five years, the chefs at Barracuda Japanese Restaurant have continually tinkered with their sushi, teriyaki, and noodle dishes, customizing the menu to fit each Barracuda location’s neighborhood and clientele. Using fresh fish and fruit sourced locally and sustainably whenever possible, the team crafts more than a dozen specialty rolls, including the Japanese Cowboy Roll, which matches crabmeat with mango, avocado, and thinly sliced Kobe beef. Staples such as chicken teriyaki rest side by side with more intricately prepared eats including pan-seared rib eye with mashed potatoes. Lit from underneath, the dining room’s dim orange walls surround potted plants and wooden tables that can accommodate groups of all sizes.
The cooks at Tenka Japanese Restaurant grill squid, deep-fry oysters, and assemble raw orders of sushi with the steady hands of a brain surgeon building a house of cards. Sushi rolls can grow around simple cores of tuna and cucumber or more piquant fillings like spicy mayonnaise, asparagus, or shrimp tempura. For even more robust flavor, the cooks skewer beef after first marinating it in soy sauce and sake, or deep-fry pork cutlets and add them to curry rice.
Most of Wakuriya is not restaurant, but kitchen. Due to the cooking implements and the counter that stretches across the space, the dining room fits only 18 seats, as the San Francisco Chronicle reports. "Kitchen" might not be the appropriate term for Chef Katsuhiro Yamasaki's workstation, however—"stage" seems more apt. For each evening's dinner, in full view of his guests, Katsuhiro prepares a nine-course meal of contemporary Japanese cuisine. His wife Mayumi acts as hostess and floor manager throughout, delivering the dishes and coordinating with her husband in a sort of elaborate, graceful dance. Like a pilot who’s too shy to remind anyone he’s waiting to land, each meal holds to a pattern: a starter, appetizers, a steamed dish, sashimi, a deep-fried dish, a granite, a broiled dish, a rice dish, and a dessert. The menu changes monthly to incorporate seasonal ingredients, but consistently draws from and recasts Japanese culinary traditions. When the Chronicle's restaurant reviewer visited, he praised the appetizers of lotus root, rare duck breast, and ocean trout salad, noting "a tension of opposing flavors" that remained a motif of the entire experience. Those fortunate enough to reserve a table might feast on barbecued freshwater eel served over rice in a cypress box, or they may cut into farm-raised wagyu steak served with shredded brown mushrooms. The crisp, citrusy flavors of the granite ready the palate for the next course, and the sweet, light dessert brings the meal to a satisfying close.
2G Japanese Brasserie calls itself as an izakaya: a traditional Japanese drinking establishment that also serves food, and an ideal place for lingering after work or during lunch breaks. But at 2G, the food hardly takes a backseat to sake and beer?take executive sushi chef Sasaki Masaki's menu, for example. Each spicy salmon roll and slice of yellowtail sashimi is crafted with extreme attention to detail, incorporating real crab, fresh vegetables, and other ingredients sourced from carefully selected local growers and vendors.
That same care goes into plates from the kitchen, where executive chef Hidetoshi Nambu crafts Japanese entrees such as sake-marinated seabass, whole roasted crabs, and chicken teriyaki. Other dishes, such as Kobe-style beef burgers and house-made beef curry, showcase a global influence. Those two entrees also appear on the casual lunch menu, along with options to assemble your own bento plate, a less confining version of the traditional bento box.