UMAMI MART MATSURI FESTIVAL
[caption id="attachment_29275" align="aligncenter" width="640"] Photo via: Karaage Burger[/caption]

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


Opening soon:

Dumpling Time, 11 Division Street The Omakase Restaurant Group (Omakase, Okane) is opening a dumpling and beer house in April. They will offer handmade dumplings with a variety of fillings – including seafood, chicken, wagyu beef, lamb, and a vegetarian option – as well as noodles.

Hitachino Beer & Wagyu, 639 Post Street Speaking of places that are taking longer than anticipated to open... Hitachino Beer & Wagyu is in soft open mode. What does that mean? I'll explain more on how to eat here in a moment. First, an introduction. This restaurant comes to us from the makers of Hitachino Nest beer. It's a Kappo-style restaurant, which focuses on pairing food with beer. As its name suggests, Hitachino Beer & Wagyu focuses on wagyu beef – specifically Hitachiwagyu beef, an extremely high-grade Japanese beef from 30-month-old Japanese Black wagyu cattle. The eight-course tasting menu is $68 per person ($30 extra for sake and beer pairing). During its extended soft opening (until sometime this spring), visitors to Hitachino Beer & Wagyu can walk in to enjoy beer and bar snacks. If you want to dine on the tasting menu, however, you'll have to enter a lottery via the restaurant's email list. In the spring, when the restaurant phases out of its soft opening, it will be much easier to eat here, but until then, you'll just have to be patient (and a little lucky) to get your wagyu fix!

Recently opened:

Iza Ramen, 1155 Folsom Street Lower Haight’s Iza Ramen opened its second location last month. Its SOMA location serves ramen, rice bowls, and appetizers, like chicken karaage, tuna poke, and takoyaki.


Mara, 1355 Market Street, Ste 100 If temaki is your thing, you'll be excited by Mara, a restaurant specializing in hand rolls. Found within the Twitter building in the Civic Center area, Don't expect busy rolls filled with mangos, sprouts, and tempura, here – Mara offers simple, but fresh rolls filled with seasoned rice and raw fish, such as scallops, lobster, salmon, and toro. The most complicated temaki available are spicy tuna and cucumber-avocado. Be aware that these rolls are on the small side, so unless you have a bird-like appetite, you'll need a few to get full.

Marufuku Ramen, 1581 Webster Street, Ste 202 Japantown's newest ramen restaurant, located in the former Sapporo-ya space, specializes in Hakata-style ramen, a style with a milky tonkotsu broth and thin, springly (but not curly!) noodles. They also serve rice bowls and starters like Buta Kakuni (braised pork belly) and Geso Fry (fried squid legs).

Takuya, 716 Irving Inner Sunset residents can get their Japanese hotdog fix. Takuya serves both Japanese-style hot dogs and sausage bowls (made with a base of brown rice or salad) featuring toppings like “bonito flakes, nori, spicy mango, Tempura shrimp, Unagi sauce, Wasabi mayo and more.” The sausages come in eight flavors, including Cajun beef, smoked pork, bacon dog, chicken apple, and a vegan dog.

Random tips:

Hamano, 1332 Castro Street Hamano has been open for more than 20 years, but I'm including it in this round-up because you may not have heard about it before or overlooked it. Lucky Peach Editor-at-Large Chris Ying has a new column at the SF Chronicle called "All Consuming," in which he highlighted Hamano. Here's what he had to say: "It fills me with equal parts shame and delight that right under my nose at Hamano, my neighborhood California-rolls-and-chicken-teriyaki Japanese restaurant, there was a chef named Jiro Lin making sushi with such skill and diligence that one of his regulars, Saison chef Joshua Skenes, lured him out of relative obscurity to open a spectacular but short-lived omakase counter of his own. (Jiro is back at Hamano, by the way, serving what is probably the best sushi in San Francisco.)"

ICHI Sushi, 3369 Mission Street Ichi Sushi is now serving lunch, which includes sushi rolls, tekka don, salads, and a variety of Japanese hot dogs, including a kimchi dog, curry dog, and mapo tofu dog.

Okane, 669 Townsend Street Should you find yourself in the FiDi on a weekend, stop in to Okane for brunch. Based on traditional Japanese breakfast set meals, Okane's offerings include dishes like grilled fish, ginger beef, seasonal vegetables, and curry. The set meals come with salad, miso soup, pickles, and rice.

Berkeley




Update:

Ippudo, 2011 Shattuck Avenue I'm sad to report Ippudo Berkeley is still not open. I took the photo above on a drive-by just in case you didn't believe me.

El Cerrito


Recently opened:

Hoshi Sushi, 10561 San Pablo Avenue If you're looking for a casual, homey, family-friendly Japanese restaurant that has all the standard rolls, combination bento boxes, and appetizers, Hoshi Sushi looks promising. And, maybe because they're still in soft opening mode, but so far they've been giving customers the bill with whole packages of Hi-Chew and Pocky!

Fremont


Recently opened:

Kaenyama Sushi and Yakiniku, 43785 Boscell Road Kaenyama declares on its website that it's "One of the most upscale Japanese restaurants in Fremont!" It specializes in yakiniku, or Japanese grilled meat. Diners grill their own meats at their table, and can choose from Wagyu, US Kobe beef, USDA prime, as well as other cuts and types of meat, seafood, and vegetables. The restaurant also has a full sushi bar, regular table seating, and private rooms.

San Mateo


Recently opened:

Karaage Burger, 670 E 3rd Avenue If you love karaage (fried chicken), menchi katsu, (breaded and deep fried ground beef patty) and tonkatsu (fried pork cutlet), a visit to this new fast-casual restaurant in San Mateo is in order. Karaage Burger puts these three Japanese fried foods between a bun with some shredded cabbage, red onions, and tomato slices, and then smothers it all in "KB Sauce," which is kinda like thousand island dressing – you can get it regular or spicy. Other menu items worth mentioning: Banzai Fries, made with spicy pork bulgogi, KB sauce, nori, and scallions and the Matcha Hand-Dipped Milkshake.

San Jose


Recently opened:

Fuz Bar & Lounge, 58 S 1st Street If you could mix a dance club with a Japanese restaurant, you'd get Fuz, located in Downtown San Jose. Black and hot pink menus offer things like dry ice cocktails and Japanese tapas, like American Kobe Slider, Ramen Salad, Bacon Fried Rice, and Hamachi Shots. Fuz seems like an after-work spot to blow off steam. Use that info in whatever way you choose to.

JT Express, 170 Jackson Street This Japanese/Hawaiian sweet and snack shop offers treats like Bubbie's Mochi Ice Cream from Hawaii, donburi, Spam musubi, and sushi burritos.  "JT" is a combination of two San Jose long-time family-owned businesses that have joined forces in one spot: Jimbo's ice cream and snack shop and Tengu Sushi.

Teriyaki Dude, 4112C Monterey Road I love that this place is called Teriyaki Dude! It just sounds so '80s, and a look inside, you'll feel like you've gone back in time to an awesome local food stand, where the people are nice, the food is casual, and the price is right. This no-frills teriyaki spot is owned by a guy named Ed, who specializes in bowls filled with rice, some steamed vegetables, and teriyaki chicken or beef. He also makes teriyaki sandwiches, ribs, and burgers. Just remember, it's cash only!

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.