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Sumiya Yakitori in San Jose

Has anyone tried the new Sumiya Yakitori place on Moorpark in SJ? They claim to import the charcoal from Japan and use only Jidori chicken.

A acquiantance of mine who is a Japanese gourmet went there and said it was pretty good but he wouldn't go back. I tried to find out why he wouldn't go back, but didn't get a definitive answer.

This is the place that used to be Akachouchin Izakaya.

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  1. Latest issue of free Japanese circulation Bay-Spo had a small blurb about this place on page 23. Looks like they are only open for dinner 5:30 to 11:30 pm. Not sure what the kanji characters are for the days of the week, but it could be only open 6 out of 7 days (character for moon and earth/ground).

    Is Jidori chicken = free range chicken? Jidori sounds very much like "Joh Di" in Mandarin which is interesting (which also means free range if used in conjunction with chicken). In the blurb, I see a #30 followed by the character "varieties" or "types", perhaps referring to the selection of grilled items.

    Sakae Sushi has a chicken yakitori appetizer, also made with organic free range chicken. A half decent effort, though lacking in the firey grill flavors tasted before in Tanto's shioyaki/maru yaki type dishes or Saizo's yakitori preps.

    Hopefully this place is at least as good as Saizo, otherwise there's already slim pickin's on good yakitori in the Bay Area.

    Glad to see a yakitoriya of some sort here.

    1 Reply
    1. re: K K

      Regarding the days of the week, moon kanji would be Monday and earth/ground kanji would be Saturday, so it sounds like they are closed on Sundays.

      "Jidori" literally translates to local chicken but it seems the term is indeed being used very loosely for free-range chicken as you guessed. The original use of the term "jidori" was in conjunction with the locale name that describes an indigenous Japanese breed of chicken (e.g. Hinai-jidori is most famous, others like Gifu-jidori, Mie-jidori) and they were all free-range grown in the old days. But if Sumiya mentions "jidori" with no specific locale, I'm guessing it just means free-range chicken and not a special breed.

    2. Where is this place exactly or what stores/restaurants is it next to? For the life of me I can't picture the place even though I drive on Moorpark almost every day.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Cary

        It's replaced AKACHOCHIN, which was located at 5160 Moorpark Ave., San Jose, CA 95129

        1. re: Cary

          It's at Moorpark and Williams near Lawrence Expressway in West San Jose. Near the border of City of Saratoga.

          2634 Homestead Rd, Santa Clara, CA 95051

        2. I'm always confused when people say "yakitori" restaurant. Does anyone know if this place serves only yakitori or are there other non-yakitori-but-still-grilled-on-a-stick dishes like Shinsengumi down in SoCal?

          2 Replies
          1. re: muimi07

            Jidori is 地鶏 (earth-chicken). It usually is free-range. I think Japanese people in the US use the term to loosely refer to any non-factory, non-'broiler' chicken.

            Yakitori restaurants in Japan serve only chicken and veggies, although the newer hipster yakitori places are starting to serve other 'creative' dishes.

            I think the confusion comes from the fact that US restaurants serve one kind of yakitori and call it yakitori. Yakitori can be any part of the chicken grilled - not just the breast, which seems to be the "standard yakitori" here in the US.

            Jeez, this post has a lot of " " and ' '.

            1. re: muimi07

              They serve more than just grilled chicken items. Obviously, tori being chicken, yakitori in the strictest sense would mean only the various chicken items on the menu, however like Shin-Sen-Gumi (http://www.shinsengumiusa.com/) they have non-chicken robata-grilled items.

              Unfortunately, unlike Shin-Sen-Gumi, which I cannot recommend strongly enough, Sumiya ... kind of sucked.

              1. So, I finally tried this place and generally liked it.

                I am going back there tonight and if it is good again, I will let you all know what I think!

                1. This sounds very interesting! Does anyone know if they take reservations? (I didn't see anything in any of the posts...)

                  Duh, never mind! I just looked at the link and there's a phone nbr for reservations...

                  1. Yes, reservations are highly recommended. The place is pretty small and all three times I've been there, I saw customers turned away at one point. The problem with these places is that people sit and eat/drink for hours on end.

                    I highly recommend the tsukune with tare (sauce) here. It is super addictive. I also like the ocha-zuke - which is somewhat non-traditional, made with chicken stock and a grilled rice ball (yaki-onigiri). I also like the gizzards, although I wish the pieces were bigger.

                    They tend to cater towards the drunks, so things can be salty if you are not drinking. The all-you-can-eat cabbage will help with the salt.

                    I find their food to be better around 9 PM rather than when they just opened, since the grill seems hotter then. The fragrance of the grilled exterior is much more highlighted in the times I went later or as the evening progressed.

                    I wasn't too impressed with their shio-ramen, since I thought it was too salty, but it might be because I wasn't drinking enough...

                    1. I've been to some really good yakitori places in Japan, and I thought the food at Sumiya was very authentic.

                      1. I ate there twice and have ordered almost everything on the menu. The food would be considered by many to be very salty. It's best to drink lots of beer or sake ;)

                        3 Replies
                          1. re: Melanie Wong

                            The shio ramen comes topped with a pat of (salted) butter. This makes the broth too buttery and "outright" fatty for my taste. In fact the butter dominates the broth's taste. The noodles appear to be typical store-bought ramen, and hold their texture for the first few minutes. The rest of the toppings are typical and nothing special. The portion size might be considered small, but I think it's only $6 here.

                            I liked the duck and eel guts skewers in addition to the butabara.

                            1. re: Melanie Wong

                              Tsukune, all the way.

                              And the ochazuke is yummy.

                          2. I wen to Sumiya maybe 3 or so months ago. I am afraid I was extremely underwhelmed.

                            We ordered a lot of the yakitori items on the menu, and they just weren't that great. Some items were actively bad, like the part-rotten garlic (yuck!).

                            Shin-Sen-Gumi in the LA area was our introduction to yakitori, and we really miss it when we can't get down to LA for a while (we live in San Jose), so we were *really* hoping Sumiya would fill the need for a local place, but ... it was so mediocre that I wouldn't bother going back.

                            Two thumbs down to this one.