November 1, 2016
Welcome to Bay Eats Japan, where we’ll alert you to newly and soon-to-be opened Japanese restaurants and bars in the Bay Area. As we’ll be listing new places, a mention is not necessarily a recommendation. Use this as a handy way to keep track of new spots you might want to try in the future.
Aquarius Tea Bar, 31 Cambon Drive OK, disclaimer: This is a Taiwanese boba spot, but I’m including it on this list because it’s the only place in SF I know of that serves Japanese mizu shingen mochi, or Raindrop Cakes. These clear jelly cakes are meant to look like huge water droplets, but the truth is, they look a lot like breast implants. It’s a haul out to Parkmerced, so call ahead because these wiggly boobies are known to sell out.
The Grubbies, 303 Sacramento Street Sounding more like the Gummi Bears’ long lost dirt-bag relatives than a Japanese eatery worth visiting, The Grubbies is a new Financial District chirashi (sliced sashimi over seasoned rice) take-out window that you might want to check out, especially if you like uni (sea urchin). The Grubbies offers a variety of chirashi for about $15-28, but the uni chirashi costs a whopping $200! Hoodline reports that the uni is special ordered and flown in from Japan, if that information helps you swallow the high price. The Grubbies is only open for lunch (11 a.m.-3 p.m.) on weekdays.
OzaOza, 1700 Post Street, 2nd floor Japantown’s new restaurant serves kaiseki (multi-course set menu) for $100. Opened by a husband-wife team, OzaOza has only nine counter seats. Get a peek at the menu, from our friend Marcia of Tablehopper, who says it’s the “only place to experience kaiseki in SF.” Dining at OzaOza by reservation only (Call 415.674.4400).
Onsen, 466 Eddy Street (November 11) We’re really excited about Japanese bathhouse that’s opening soon in the Tenderloin. Located within a former auto repair shop, Onsen will feature communal baths, with spa amenities and treatments, as well as a restaurant and tearoom. The restaurant, headed by Chef George Meza (Oro, Ame), will specialize in seasonal and vegetarian Japanese food. Onsen’s restaurant will also serve teas from Japan, China, and the U.S.; as well as sake and Japanese craft beer. P.S. Stay tuned, we’ll be posting about our recent visit to Onsen!
Sasaki, 2400 Harrison Street (November 11) Also opening on November 11 will be Chef Masa Sasaki’s eponymous restaurant, located in the former Grilled Cheese Kitchen space in the Mission. Formerly of Maruya, where he earned a Michelin-star, and a consultant at Delage and Omakase, Sasaki has teamed up with Chef Takanori Wada to open a 12-seat omakase sushi restaurant focusing on edomae sushi. According to Eater SF, the menu will not feature anything aside from fish and vegetables. Although Sasaki is a couple of weeks away from opening, diners can already make reservations.
Bhugay’s Katsu Curry, 578 14th Street I had noticed the sign for Bhugay’s while riding my bike home from Umami Mart. The words “KATSU CURRY” on the blue overhang were clear, but “Bhugay’s,” in script, was a little harder to read. “What’s a Bhugay?” I wondered. Well, it turns out Bhugay is the chef and owner. He also owns a to-go sushi restaurant around the corner on Clay Street in the Oakland City Center. I was on the fence about adding this one to the list, but I like that it’s a cheap option in Old Oakland, so I’ll give it a shout out here.
Blue Willow Teaspot, 1200 10th Street Thanks to a tip from UM friend Jessica Nguyen, I just learned about Blue Willow Teaspot, a teahouse opened by Ali Roth in mid-October. Roth has been studying chado, or the art of Japanese tea ceremony, for the past five years. And although Blue Willow Tea is not just dedicated to Japanese tea, it does have a Japanese tearoom in the back of its space, where guests can experience a ceremonial preparation of matcha, with wagashi (traditional Japanese confections). Note that the Teaspot is only open Thursday through Sunday!
Miminashi, 821 Coombs Street Here’s another spot that opened a few months ago, but we think it’s worth a late mention. Chef Curtis Di Fede – who’s made a name for himself in wine country for his Italian cuisine at Oenotri – traveled to Japan three years ago and fell in love with the food. Thus, this May, he opened his new venture, Miminashi, a new-ish high-end izakaya in downtown Napa. Here, you’ll find both traditional and modern takes on robatayaki, sashimi and tataki, donburi, ramen, and more. The drink offerings include cocktails, a 20+ sakes, and because you’re in Napa – wine. You’ll want to save room for the soft cream (aka, soft serve), offered in four flavors with a variety of toppings.
Got tips for new Japanese restaurant and bar openings? Send them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.