Tagged: Japanese Restaurants

Sep 19

Date Night at Jū-ni

For Kent’s 40th birthday, I wanted to take him somewhere really good to celebrate!  So, for his big day, we made a date night reservation a few months ahead and decided to go to the most talked about Japanese restaurant, Jū-ni! I feel like everyone we know who have tried it, LOVE it. And everyone who hasn’t been there, wants a reservation. I learned that when you hear about a restaurant on social media as much as them, you have to try it!

Jū-ni means twelve in Japanese, the restaurant offers 12 seats with 2 seatings per night and a 12 course nigiri. The omakase is 15 course, including a salad, owan (soup) and dessert. At the end of the nigiri courses, you can decide if you want to add supplements. And believe me, you’ll want the Chef recommended supplements!

Kent and I knew a little bit about the restaurant and what to expect since our friends who have been there gave some great reviews on their dining experience. Being from the hospitality industry, I am extremely picky about service. If I dine at a high end restaurant, I am expecting very good service. But lately, I notice that some servers at high end restaurants really don’t care and are expecting a good gratuity no matter how they present their service.

Here’s the thing about Jū-ni, you not only get good service from the all around staff, you get a personable Chef who’s preparing every intricate course for you. They have 1 Chef for every 4 guests. Our wonderful Chef Daniel explained where the fish was from, gave us an idea of what textures and flavors to expect, the seasonings used, and even gave us cooking tips! From preparing and cleaning each of our serving boards for the next course, to slicing the fish to perfection and adding the seasonings to compliment each fish, he made it an amazing dining experience!

And then there’s the fish, a lot of it was sourced from Japan, the quality of the seafood was impeccable! Each with their own flavors and textures, they were all sweet and fresh!

There is no rushing here, just sit down and relax, enjoy the exceptional food, the company and the hospitality! Thank you Jū-ni, it was a fun date night!

Date night begins...

Chef Daniel at work

Happy with our lovely dining experience!


Sep 08

The Perfect Summer Meal…Amami Sushi

We’ve heard about Amami Sushi for a while now, but now that we have a toddler, we just never have time to wait in lines anymore. We actually waited for a good half hour once, but had to leave. So, on one of those days I got out of work early, we decided to have dinner here at 5:00pm. Yes, I said 5:00pm. And I am so glad we did, because it was packed by 6:00pm, even if you had a reservation, I am sure it was delayed by a good half hour to an hour. Upon arrival, look at the Today’s Special Menu, or better yet, just take a photo like me and return to your seat! Haha!

We, of course, had to order the 10 piece Omakase dinner at $30.00 per person! The fish was so fresh, my only complaint is that the servers never told us what we were eating. And they are busy so you never want to stop them and ask. But as you can see, they include fresh tunas, salmons, even a baby lobster! We loved the seared options, they were very very fatty but so good! We also ordered the King Crab Remix with Scallop, Salmon and Avocado, it was a big piece and actually very refreshing after all the fatty fish, it tasted like summer! Last but not least, we also devoured the Seared Toro topped with Uni…and if you are thinking that it’s too much of a good thing, you’re probably right, but I enjoyed every bite of this damn good thing!

People always asks me, ‘What does your son eat?’. Well, he loves noodles, so we ordered him a Vegetable Udon. He actually really enjoyed it and ate all the udon and left me some vegetables to finish for him. The soup was only okay, kind of bland, but good for toddlers!


Sep 04

Ramen Time at Waraku

There are so many ramen joints in the Bay Area! But the one I’ve been enjoying lately is Waraku located in the Japantown in San Francisco. I’ve been there a few times and have tried the warm comforting bowl of Tonkotsu Ramen served with house made tonkotsu broth base, chashu pork, green onions, bamboo shoots, kikurage-mushrooms, bean sprouts and smoked egg! But I have to admit, I really love slurping the Tsukemen, served with a really rich and warm house made tonkotsu and fish base broth and served with all the same accompaniments as the Tonkotsu Ramen. The only difference is that you dip the ramen and accompaniments into the rich broth. And of course I also love to add the tender Braised Pork Belly, the sweet soy sauce flavor is so addicting! If you are in the area, give this place a try!


Jul 02

Skool: A Seafood Gem


Apr 30

Yakitori at Mokutanya

Walk into Mokutanya and you might be somewhat surprised by the modern dim ambiance with glass sectioning off the seating arrangements.  Get to your table and you will notice the traditional Japanese way to dine, take off your shoes and sit on the tatami mats and sunken tables. We came here for a friend’s birthday and we had approximately 10 people, we ordered A LOT of food, too much actually, instead of ordering a skewer per person, we probably could have split the order in half for some of the selections.

I didn’t get photos of everything we ate, but I did get a few and definitely have some favorites! From Wagyu Beef, Bacon Enoki, Butabara (Pork Belly), Gindara Kasuzuke (Black Cod), Gyutan (Beef Tongue), Hatsu (Chicken Heart), Kamo (Duck Breast), Spicy Kurobuta Sausage, Sunagimo (Chicken Gizzard), Onion Tsukune (Chicken), Shiitake Tsukune, Okra, Spicy Beef to Tsukune with Spicy Mayonnaise…they were all flavorful and grilled to perfection! My favorites were the fatty and tender Wagyu Beef, Gyutan (Beef Tongue), Spicy Beef and Shiitake Tsukune! We tried the Tonkotsu Ramen but I found the soup too salty,  the ramen’s texture was good and I did see a soft boiled egg.

I also heard they serve exotic meats on Wednesday and Thursday, such as Kangaroo, Venison, Wild Boar and Alligator. We will definitely return to Mokutanya again, we really enjoyed it!


Nov 05

Ramen Parlor: Rich and Creamy

If you have waited in the long lines for Santa Ramen and Ramen Dojo, you will want to try Ramen Parlor, the third ramen joint by the same chef/owner, Kazunori Kobayashi. It couldn’t have opened at a better time, the freezing cold weather has arrived to the Bay Area and all we want is a warm bowl of hot ramen!  Then again, who am I kidding,  I would find any excuse to have ramen.  Ramen Parlor is actually only half a block from Ramen Dojo and we saw the long lines forming at Ramen Dojo.  It was a Friday night at 6:30pm, and there was NO line at Ramen Parlor, yes I repeat…no line, we were seated right away. But I must say that by 7:30pm, there was a short queue forming.

When one opens a third restaurant, you would think that it may be similar to the other two. Wrong…Ramen Parlor offers it’s own unique twist, a rich and heavier soup enhanced by the lobster oil! This location also offers more appetizers, even yakitori! However,  I am not sure if all the appetizers are offered during lunch. We ordered off their ‘Today’s Special’ menu and got the crunchy Deep Fried Chicken Cartilage and fatty Basa Fish with Garlic Butter yakitori! Yummy!

We both ordered the Ramen with Pork Flavor and Lobster Oil served with Roasted Pork, one Garlic Shrimp, Quail Egg, Green Chives, Ground Chicken, Brocollini and Black Sesame Powder.  The only difference is that I added the huge chunk of Stewed Spare Rib in mine, which was a great recommendation from a new fan! (Thanks fan!) I thought that the sweet marinated Stewed Spare Rib would have bones, but it was boneless with lots of crunchy tendons!  The soup was rich and creamy, make sure you mix the lobster oil into the base so that it doesn’t seem so oily! What can I say, the owner has done it again!

If you want light, go to Santa Ramen…if you want spicy, go to Ramen Dojo…if you want rich, go to Ramen Parlor!


Sep 03

If You Want Fresh Fish, You Must Try Ryoko’s

Okay, where the hell have I been, I just realized that Ryoko’s been around for 23 years! How is it that I didn’t know about this gem in downtown San Francisco? WOW, if you haven’t been, you must give them a visit to try their fresh fish! Yes, this is my food alert, if you want impressive fresh sashimi, you must go to Ryoko’s! We went there on a Friday night, this place was super busy and there was a long line the entire time we were eating! Lucky for us,  we made reservations and we requested bar seating, we were about 20 minutes early and our seats we waiting for us! I have to admit that I was surprised, with about possibly 15 people waiting, they didn’t give away our bar seating, I think that some places would have thought they could just get away with making us wait for another half hour.

We noticed lots of specials on the board, some of the fish were from Japan. We love being adventurous so of course we had to ask our server for her recommendations off their board. We started with the smooth Ankimo, monkfish liver, and the Kakuni, braised sweet pork belly, which was served with mild spicy peppers. After tasting our appetizers, we were very excited to see what was in store for us. We then got our Jumping Tuna roll, featuring spicy tuna, cucumber, and shiso rolled and deep fried, this was good even though I am not a huge fan of deep fried rolls. We also had deep fried shrimp heads from our Amaebi order, the batter was light and the heads were sweet and crunchy!

And then the really good stuff came out, the nigiri and the rest of our rolls! The White Tuna Toro, Uni (Sea Urchin), Big Eye Red Tuna, Iwashi (Sardines), Hamachi (Yellowtail), Sake (Salmon), Amaebi (Sweet Shrimp), Spicy Scallop Roll with shiso & cucumber and the Spicy Golden Gate with spicy salmon, shiso, cucumber & flying fish roe! Ummm yes, I love the fragrant smell and taste from shiso and I had a lot this evening! After we ate all of this, we had to order another melt in your mouth White Tuna Toro, this fish was so buttery! We then asked our server for her recommendation for our last bite, the chef overheard us and recommended the Sanma (Pacific Saury). So to end our feast, we got the Sanma and as our friend put it, an order of Unagi (BBQ eel)  for dessert!

Everything we had were AMAZINGLY FRESH and I actually have no complaints, not even one!!!


Jul 09

Tonkotsu Me at Saiwaii Ramen

We always have to give ramen joints a try. They last two places we tried were Ajisen Ramen and Ramen Doraku, and the ramen at both were horrible! Let’s put it this way,  I didn’t even finish the bowl of ramen while eating at both and I hate wasting food! Anyhow, due to my bad ramen experiences, I was a bit reluctant to try Saiwaii Ramen, but since a few people recommended it, I had to try it!  I have to face the fact that I will never have the flavorful ramen I had in Japan in San Francisco.

We went to Saiwaii Ramen with an open mind. We started with the Kobe Beef Salad, featuring slices of lightly grilled fatty and tender Kobe Beef, on top of the spring salad and onions, with a hint of ginger. Yum, yum, yum…I highly recommend this if you go! Since they offer combination meals with the ramen, we added the Spicy Tuna Don, it was not the best, but it was not bad either, it was a nice cold side dish.  And then our ramens…my hubby ordered the Tonkotsu and I ordered the Spicy Garlic Tonkotsu. Both tonkotsu were served with chashu, bamboo shoots, seaweed, green onion and kikurage (also known to us Chinese as ‘wood ear’). We both added the Pork Belly, I didn’t realize that I forgot to add the Egg until I was halfway done! I heard their egg is marinated in soy sauce and the yolk is runny, I will have to try it next time.

The outcome? The Tonkotsu (non-spicy) was milky and flavorful. I then tried my Mild Spicy Garlic Tonkotsu, oh yeah, this is what I’m talking about, it was very flavorful and the spice was perfect, not spicy to the point where I couldn’t taste my food. The ramen was actually good too, the texture was crunchy chewy, it didn’t get soggy right away. The soy sauce Pork Belly was extremely fatty and the fatty part melted like butter, but I do have to say that the meaty part of it was not that tender.



Jul 05

Eclectic Blend of Japanese & Pacific Dishes at Sushi Ran

Over the weekend we had dinner at Sushi Ran, located in serene Sausalito. We had the first seating for 5pm, since it was beautiful weather, we were seated on their covered patio along the quiet and charming street. We went with great company and they knew exactly what to order which was a plus since the menu is quite extensive.

We started with the Vegetable Tasting featuring Ginger Grilled Eggplant, Aji Nori Potatoes, Spaghetti Squash and Zucchini Kimchee. WOW, every little bite for each was distinctively mouthwatering.  Please get this unique tasting if you go! We then enjoyed the chewy yet crunchy Grilled Squid Tentacles served with Black Garlic Aioli, the squid ink looking aioli was a twist to this dish!  Then came the Seared Jumbo Day Boat Scallops with Green garlic, Wheat Berry, Nettles, Pea Shoots and Uni Bernaise, holy s#@%, this was a heavenly dish! The blend of ingredients were just amazing and the scallop was perfectly seared, not chewy at all…fresh, plump and tender! Of course our tasting didn’t stop there, we then got our deep fried Agadashi Tofu, the batter and the flavors were light, I enjoyed the dried fish flakes on top of it!

Due to the area we were sitting, the Sushi Omakase is not normally served there, but they agreed to serve it to us anyhow. So just know this if you make reservations and plan to have the Omakase. All the fish was fresh with their distinctive enticing taste. I have to admit, I couldn’t remember everything we tasted, I had to ask my friend and she let me know that they were: zuke chu-toro (soy sauce cured medium fatty blue fin tuna), ayu (sweetfish), umi masu (ocean trout), hirame (flounder), kanpachi (amberjack or otherwise young hamachi), katsuo tataki (a tuna that was prepared with a lightly cherrywood smoked bonito).

After devouring the sushi omakase, we decided to order a few more savory dishes to complete our night. We ordered the fresh Uni (sea urchin) and Ikura (salt cured salmon caviar), and Soft Shell Crawfish Hand Rolls! YUM, YUM and YUM! The Soft Shell Crawfish was definitely different in a good way! Of course after we had the hand rolls, we still wanted to order one last dish, we were contemplating a few and went with the Scallop-Chive Dumplings with Water Spinach and Soy-Vinegar. I hate to say it, maybe we could have done without this dish, the skin of the dumplings were good, it was tasty but it was not great.

We wanted to go elsewhere for desserts, but decided to stay for the Warm Toffee Cake served with Spiced Caramel and Ginger Gelato, the Bananas Foster served with Ginger Gelato and Toasted Coconut and the Buttermilk Panna Cotta Blueberries served with a Cocoa Nib Brittle. Okay, what the hell, how can a place with such wonderful savory cuisines also have such wonderful sweet delights? I don’t know how Sushi Ran does it, but they sure did!  We were so happy with the spicy ginger tasty goodness…the panna cotta was good too, but not as good as the other two.


Apr 04

Warm Weather Means Time for Some Kazu Sushi

Today it was a nice warm day so we decided to go out for some sushi, we actually wanted to try some other places but they were closed on Monday so we decided to try Kazu Sushi. When my hubby and I eat sushi, we love the appetizers, not just the fresh sashimi.

We ordered the Ankimo, Monkish Liver Pate with Ponzu Sauce, I was actually impressed by how smooth and tasty it was, we really loved it, they made it very good. The Albacore Carpaccio, thin slices of Albacore Tuna was marinated in the perfect soy, garlic cilantro vinaigrette sauce, the fish was so fresh, topped with tobiko popping in my mouth!  We also ordered the Uni Nigiri, Hamachi Nigiri, 6 piece Spicy Scallop and the Fatty Tuna Roll with cucumbers, shiso leaves and yellow pickled radish. I felt like they gave us broken pieces of Uni. I’m a huge fan of Uni, they gave us a lot but the broken pieces was a turn off, not to say it didn’t taste good. The spice from the Spicy Scallop was a very tasty creamy spice. I thought that the combination of the minced Fatty Tuna with the fresh veggies was delicious, I love shiso leaves, it always adds a refreshing flavor!  To end the meal, we had the Hamachi Kama, the Grilled Yellowtail Collar, this is my hubby’s favorite, and we love ending our Japanese dinners with this cooked dish, you can never really go wrong with this fatty, sweet and meaty part of the fish!

Overall, we really enjoyed our meal, there were definitely some surprisingly impressive dishes!  I can see ourselves returning!