April 5, 2017

Bay Eats Japan: April 2017

by Sarah Han

Maze Soba; photo via Ramen Hachi

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. 

San Francisco

Recently opened:

Kingza, 1009 Guerrero Street This new Edomae (the most traditional style) sushi spot in the Mission boasts a chef who apprenticed at 3-Michelin-star Masa in NYC. According to Hoodline, Chef Tony Li was Masa’s youngest protege.

Opening soon:

Kuma Sushi + Sake, 1040 Polk Street Sorta like the chefs edition of Umami Mart, Kuma was opened by two lifelong friends! Ryo Sakai (Pink Zebra, Domo) and Cory Jackson decided to open this pint-size Tendernob sushi restaurant, which will focus on a seasonal menu, with local fish, along with seafood flown from Japan, and a curated selection of sakes. According to Tablehopper, Kuma wants to be a neighborhood spot, where there will be different price points and offerings for a variety of dining experiences (à la carte or omakase, and vegetarian options, too). Kuma plans to open in May. Note, walks-ins only – no reservations.

Robin (FKA The Starling), 620 Gough Street This upcoming omakase restaurant has already encountered a few issues before its opening, according to Eater. First, The Starling was supposed to open last December, but no surprise, the ever-slow permitting process tripped up those plans. Then, chef and owner Adam Tortosa (formerly, chef at Akiko’s) received a cease-and-desist order from a restaurant in Sonoma with the Starling name. Wanting to keep the bird logo he created, he decided to rebrand as Robin, as an ode to his mother (it’s her middle name). In a recent Craigslist posting by the restaurant looking for “inspiring individuals” to join its team, Robin calls itself: “a sushi/Japanese/Californian/New American/not fusion restaurant.” The ad asks interested applicants to answer the three following questions: What book do you think everyone should read? Explain. Where do you see yourself in 2 years? 5 years? 10 years? How do you deal with stress? Are there practices you have to calm your mind? Knowing about all the snags they’ve hit so far, these questions, perhaps, are telling in themselves. Robin plans to take flight some time in May. Fingers (wings?) crossed!

Bonus:

Hello Kitty Cafe Truck, Post Street, Japantown This weekend is the 50th Anniversary Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival, taking place in Japantown. The Hello Kitty Cafe Truck will return for its second appearance at the annual festivities, hawking Hello Kitty cookies and cakes, as well as some non-edible Hello Kitty-themed merch. The truck will be parked on Post Street, near the Concert Stage, from 10 a.m.–5 p.m., or until supplies run out.

Oakland

Recently opened:

Ding, 6200 Claremont Avenue It was sad to see longtime Claremont Diner shutter last year, and I was surprised when a large sign went up announcing that it would soon to be a Japanese restaurant called Ding. Bay Area Bites visited the new spot last month and enjoyed their lunch of ramen, sushi, sashimi, and chicken teriyaki. BAB editors were especially thrilled that Ding offers shiro shoyu (white soy sauce, which is lighter and sweeter, because it’s made with more wheat than soy beans). Hopefully, Ding can find an audience with the area residents and settle in for the long haul.

Kinja Sushi, 357 Grand Avenue Grand Avenue’s new sushi restaurant opened in early March. If you’re a fan of complicated sushi rolls, uni shooters, and lots of menu choices, this might be a good place for you.

Suchimi Crib, 251 9th Street Just the other day at Umami Mart HQ, Chris was complaining that Oakland doesn’t have any shabu shabu spots. Well lo and behold, there is one, and just down the street from Umami Mart! Suchimi Crib, which opened in February, claims that it’s “the next generation of Shabu Shabu Hot Pot.” The website explains this means they use “the fastest and most efficient shabu hot pot experience ever.” While I do like shabu shabu and the name “Suchimi Crib” is pretty fantastic, a cursory look at the menu hasn’t convinced me that it’ll be that exciting. Diners can choose from lamb or American Kobe beef to dip into their choice of soup base (Clean, Spicy, or Mama’s Special. Why yes, your mama is special.). For big eaters, there’s an AYCE option; just don’t forget to wear your eatin’ pants!

Update:

Itani Ramen, 1736 Telegraph Avenue A lot of Umami Mart customers ask us when we’re going to carry shochu. The short answer is, we’re working on it! But until then, check out the shochu at Itani Ramen. Last month, Eater SF shared news last month that Itani has shifted its drink menu to focus on this distilled rice alcohol.

Burlingame

Ramen Hachi, 1861 El Camino Real Burlingame’s newest ramen contender serves a diverse offering of noodles that strays from the standard miso, shoyu, or tonkotso styles. Yes, you can get Shoyu Ramen or a Veggie and Tori (chicken) Ramen, but they also have Spicy Maze Soba, Tomato Ramen, and Tori Paitan (a Kyoto-style ramen made with a deep, rich chicken broth), as well as desserts like Green Tea and Soy Milk Kanten Jelly.

Want to catch up on previous openings? Go through the Bay Eats Japan archives to see what you missed. Got tips for new Japanese restaurant and bar openings? Send them to us at shop@umamimart.com.

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