Author Archives: Sarah Han

March 3, 2017

The Umami Reader: Kawaii!! Japanese Animal-Shaped Donuts

by Sarah Han

– Floresta Nature Doughnuts in Tokyo makes animal-shaped donuts that are pretty much the cutest fried and frosted things you can stuff in your mouth. (LadyIronChef) – Chef René Redzepi recently announced some groundbreaking news about his 2 Michelin-starred Copenhagen restaurant, Noma. Redzepi explained Noma, known as one of the best in the world, would have […]

February 24, 2017

The Umami Reader: Can Ethnic Restaurants Be “Authentic” If They’re Not Cheap?

by Sarah Han

– Hopefully you got a chance to eat at Hawker Fare Oakland before it closed last weekend. Chef James Syhabout (who also opened Oakland’s Michelin-starred Commis) opened the original location of his Issan Thai restaurant in 2011, but Hawker Fare closed due to Oakland’s “rising wages, pricey real estate and competition for customers.” Although Hawker Fare was popular and garnered great reviews, Syhabout […]

February 17, 2017

The Umami Reader: We Support Restaurants that Support Immigrants

by Sarah Han

– The restaurant and hospitality industries are two of the biggest with large immigrant workforces, and people within the food industry are beginning to speak out about the anti-immigrant Trump administration policies. For example, restaurant owners are showing their support for their staff by printing it right onto their receipts, reminding diners who they can thank for the food they’re eating. […]

February 14, 2017

There’s a Tiny Tearoom in Berkeley for Japanese Tea Ceremonies

by Sarah Han

Recently, I visited Blue Willow Teaspot in West Berkeley, a new tea cafe that has a tiny Japanese tearoom tucked in the back, where visitors can experience chado, or the ceremonial preparation of matcha. Blue Willow Teaspot opened in October 2016. Originally, Blue Willow was solely a wholesale business. Its current owner, Ali Roth was an employee at the company under previous […]

February 10, 2017

The Umami Reader: Matcha Curry, Genius or Gross?

by Sarah Han

– No, that curry hasn’t gone bad; it’s supposed to be green. Itokyuemon, a Kyoto tea seller, makes matcha green tea curry, ready-made and packaged in vacuum-sealed pouches. The curry roux is produced with Uji matcha, a prized, ceremonial-grade variety of green tea powder. Apparently, although it smells like normal Japanese curry, it has that signature matcha bitterness. (Rocket […]

February 7, 2017

Bay Eats Japan: February 2017

by Sarah Han

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 […]

February 3, 2017

The Umami Reader: Kit Kat Sushi is Real

by Sarah Han

– In celebration of its new specialty store in Tokyo, Kit Kat made limited-edition sushi Kit Kats. Sounds gross? If you were worried about fish-flavored candy, you can rest easy that these sushi-shaped confections will taste more like fruity chocolates, rather than actual sushi. The Kit Kat sushi will come shaped like three different nigiri pieces: […]

January 27, 2017

The Umami Reader: 3rd Wave Green Tea Is a Thing in Tokyo

by Sarah Han

– Move over coffee, green tea is the caffeinated beverage of 2017. It’s not too surprising that Tokyo is at the helm of the so-called 3rd wave green tea movement and home of the world’s first pour-over green tea cafe. Tokyo Saryo, located in the Sangenjaya neighborhood, opened on January 5 this year. It specializes in single origin sencha, and encourages […]

January 25, 2017

Umami Map: Japanese Markets in the Bay Area

by Sarah Han

At our shop at 815 Broadway in Oakland, Umami Mart has a conbini (convenience store) section, stocked with Japanese snacks, condiments, spices, and sweets. Our selection of food items is small and curated, and we don’t carry refrigerated or perishable foods. We often get calls asking if we carry miso, onigiri, umeboshi, and other Japanese ingredients, and in those […]

January 18, 2017

Conbini Creations: Yuzu Curd

by Sarah Han

Recently, Yoko’s sister Cindy gave everyone at Umami Mart a yuzu from her tree. I was excited because I had never used a fresh yuzu before. The yuzu fruit looks like a puckered, squat lemon, but is less brightly acidic than a lemon and tastes more like a tart mandarin orange. But not even exactly that; it […]