After visiting a long string of “fine, but not amazing” izakayas* in the Bay Area (Nombe, Nojo, Sebo, Oyaji), I’ve finally gone to one I love: Ippuku (in Berkeley):
Negima (chicken thighs + leek, one of my “baseline izakaya dishes”):
Chicken with ume (sour plum) and shiso leaf. Perhaps my favorite dish of the night:
Gyu no tataki (very rare grilled beef), also a favorite:
Tori Yukke: minced raw chicken, egg yolk, and spices. Yes, that’s right, totally raw chicken… and the taste and texture were both great. I just tried not to think about it too much:
I also tried the yaki onigiri (good, but it is everywhere), the scallion pancake (less exciting) and the hiyashi tomato appetizer (fine). And to drink I had Heihachiro (a type of sweet potato shochu) mixed with hot water, which was earthy and satisfying.
I’ll definitely go here again.
*”izakayas” in the Bay Area tend to be fancier restaurants with “a collection of grilled skewers and other cooked japanese dishes”, not the more informal gastropub style of Japan. But that’s fine — this isn’t Japan, and I don’t need 100% authentic if it’s delicious.