HOME > Chowhound > San Diego >


Yu Me Ya - Encinitas

Yu Me Ya
1246 N Coast Highway 101

Closed Mondays, forgot to ask if they are open for lunch.

What a great change of pace from the regular "sushi" and standard
Japanese faire found at most local places. This place definitely fills a huge void in the area for traditional and delicious Japanese Izakaya food, sushi is not their main focus, in fact maybe only five standard rolls are offered. Used to be Wakei Café, nice small cozy space, maybe ten bar seats and eight tables. Totally family run operation, Mom and Dad in the kitchen and the rest of the family running the front of the house. Our server - Yuka, was great, she kept pouring us free samples of various sakes, we had a Shochikubai Kinpaku Gold Flakes and Drunken Whale. They have a great selection of sakes/sochu, proabably 30 or more, most can be ordered by the glass. Bottle of Kubota was only $90, (it's usually quite a bit more than that). A nice beer selection as well, one beer from Osaka I have not tried yet. Echigo was also offered. Menu was extensive, we didn't even get to the third page of offerings or
even the noodle page. I will report back on those next time with pics. We ordered a bottle of one of the premium sakes, $50, don't recall the name, served in cobalt blue Kiriko glasses.

Best part , most prices are $2.95 and $6.95, nothing we had was over $6.95 except the bottle of sake!

House starter of takuan - pickled daikon
String beans with sesame paste – love these things.
Kimpira gobo – this was a house special from Mama-san, not on the menu.
Sunomono salad - cucumber with seaweed.
Avocado and tuna salad - plain with simple greens, nothing special.
Croquettes with curried Japanese vegetables – perfectly fried spheres of potato encasing the veges, star of the evening IMO, they had three other kinds too, can’t wait to try them all!
Nasu with smoked bonito broth - we love eggplant, this was perfect.
Fried Yams with Ume mayonnaise – excellent! They know how to fry here!
Albacore carpaccio – nothing special, simple albacore sashimi with aioli and spicy sauce.
Baked bay scallops - had some great wild mushrooms, very tasty!
Shishitou peppers – these were excellent, I can order plates of these.
Spicy tuna roll – standard spicy tuna, we had to check it out. Sushi rice had good flavor and texture.
Crunchy shrimp roll – had to check this one out as well.
Green tea ice-cream with house made green tea syrup - delicious!

There were so many other things but we were beyond capacity!
Pics next week.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. please report back on the noodle and rice bowl scene! This sounds really promising! I LOVE shishito peppers!

    1. I just checked on hours, no Lunch at this time, only dinner.

      1. thanks for the report pablo....just bought a recipe book called tapas from japan: izakaya recipes, so i will have to check this place out. sounds like a very creative menu. yam with ume sound incredibly appealing, how was the nasu prepared...fried first?

        1 Reply
        1. re: kare_raisu

          Nasu was braised or maybe sauteed, not fried or greasy in anyway.
          I will get a pic next time!

        2. A great and detailed post, Pablo. You must have been taking notes!

          Unfortunately I didn't, and I also didn't take my camera inside when I was there for opening day. It turns out that with the company and the buzz/vibe in the small dining room, I probably would have been too distracted to take pictures anyway!

          So here's my 2 cents worth on Yumeya...

          I've got a good feeling about the long-term viability of this venture. As Pablo says it fills a void in the North County dining scene. As it is, izakayas typically depends on a fairly sizeable Japanese population to support them that I never would have thought one would open up in Encinitas. Yes you'll find many in the Peninsula Area around S.F., in Los Angeles, Orange County, and in Manhattan, but an izakaya is quite a rare find in S.D. But izakayas are getting trendy these days, and it looks like in it's own small way San Diego is doing a bit of catchup.

          I loved the fact that this is a family-run operation. On opening day there was a husband/wife/sister-in-law team working the front, and the kitchen was in the deft hands of their mother and father. In large part due to this the restaurant instantly had a comfortable feel to it, almost as if it had been already in business for years! The hosts were gracious, and the combined mood of all of the guests hit the right note.

          It only added to the atmostphere when two itamae-sans I know walked-in as we were dining and later sent us a nice bottle of a ginjo! And speaking of which, as Pablo also reports, they had a very extensive sake menu, with many of their selections available by the glass. It was also well laid out by the amount of milling, or seimaibuai, the rice used to make the sake received, as well as by the nihonshu-do or density, a number which is loosely correlated to dryness. For opening day they served sake on the house with a celebratory sprinkling of gold leaf adorning the bottom of each cup.

          Without any advertising, (they didn't want to be inundated so that they could slowly ramp-up), they managed to pack the house to the point where some customers walked away after first scanning the small room for seats.

          I found the menu to be quite small compared to the typical izakaya, but larger than the "izakaya-lite" menu on offer at Tajima. It would have been nice to see a menu more on the order of Sakura's, but then again, I'm just happy to have an izakaya in my neck of the woods! It's not always that I can justify making the drive down to Kearny Mesa, and this certainly offers a very interesting alternative...

          I found their menu to lean on the side of "modern" interpretations of ippin-ryori, whereas I personally feel more comfortable with a menu with strictly more traditional items. But that's the way I am with sushi too; at the same time I could see how the menu would please many.

          We ordered many, many items during the course of our meal, and on the whole I found it competent, (which honestly puts it above almost all Japanese restaurants in San Diego...), except for the gindara miso-zuke which I found to be way too salty. The kimpira gobo was great to see as a special, but was shredded too fine to highlight the unique texture of the burdock root. Then again it could have been just 1st night jitters in the kitchen as well.

          What I enjoyed the most was their vegetable tempura, and I was certaily pleased to see it accompanied with matcha-shio in addition to the customary dipping sauce. (I believe the best way to have a well-made and hot-out-of-the-fryer vegetable tempura is simply with either sea salt, or sea salt with matcha, the powdered green tea of the Japanese tea ceremony. It's great to see the matcha-shio come without asking for it; while I routinely ask if they have any ten-shio (sea salt for tempura) at restaurants, it would be presumptious to ask for matcha-shio, as it is relatively expensive stuff...) It's very difficult to find a well-made tempura. Theirs was indeed more than competent - quite good, actually - enough to think about ordering it on every subsequent visit. But it's not going to be setting any new standards for tempura either...

          So food-wise based on this opening night's sampling it does not compare with what we have in Sakura, but it still proudly holds its own and stakes out a one-of-a-kind foothold for this part of the county. And I look foward to seeing things develop on subsequent visits as word gets out and they have more time to settle in.

          But honestly my bar was not set very high for this first sampling, as just the convenience of having such a restaurant at all in North County serving a menu such as theirs is more than I could have ever dreamed of. So for what I was looking for, they still hit it out of the park. And though they did not strictly tow the line in terms of a fully traditional menu, which by the way I believe is necessary and was a good business move, they certainly managed to retain much of the spirit of ippin-ryori in the nature of their selections.

          (My personal opinion on Wakei, which occupied the same building where Yumeya is now, was that it had too strict an interpretation of Japanese food to be economically viable. I loved the food and their commitment to keeping an authentic menu, but at the same time I didn't think that they would last as long as they did...)

          I'm rooting for Yumeya, and wish the best of luck to the Nakai family as they try to bring a very unique part of Japanese cuisine to coastal North County. I'll gladly do my part to help!


          1. cgfan, The tempura sounds fabulous, now I am going to have to get some as soon as possible! Thanks for your detailed report,
            your extensive knowledge of traditional Japanese cuisine is greatly appreciated!

            1. We had dinner there ( Thursday) last night. We had a fun meal. The place was full. Nice vibe. The Sake samples do not hurt. The food was very-very good.

              The Stand-outs: BBQ beef salad, Croquettes with shrimp and the Tempera with green tea salt.

              We will be back!!

              1. I just completed my second visit to Yumeya last night, and had another wonderful time there. Although it was just as busy as on their opening night, they seemed to have caught their breath enough to improve upon what was already a pleasant dining experience. A big improvement on their gindara misozuke, which on the previous visit I found way too salty. Also improved was their vegetable tempura, which was graced with a more delicate batter than on the previous visit. (I liked it enough on my first visit as well, but tempura is infinitely shaded in subtlety and is rarely perfected...) I did find, though, that there was enough oil left behind on the tempura to affect the mouthfeel, although the texture and taste was right on and an overall improvement.

                The mother (it's a family-run operation) again made her kimpira gobo, which provided a nice complement throughout the meal. (Though like last time I found it too finely shredded to convey the gobo's unique texture...)

                I was most impressed by all of their age-mono, or deep-fried dishes. (Apparently their mother is the fry chef. What a treat it must have been to have grown-up in that household!) With the exception of the tempura of which I've already mentioned above, they were each done to perfection.

                Most of their dishes were accompanied by the appropriate garnishes. The vegetable tempura was served with grated daikon and ten-tsuyu, which I will always forgo in the presence of the matcha-shio which also accompanied the dish.

                The haru-maki (spring rolls) was perfectly fried, as were the accompanying slices of lotus root. It was oddly presented with ketchup, so I went "off road" and had mine with a bit of shoyu (soy sauce).

                The curry croquettes were just wonderful, again perfectly fried and served piping hot, just how I like them. They were accompanied by what looked like wonderfully toasted noodles. I later asked what it was since I didn't recognize it, and it turns out it was deep-fried somen. That I thought it was toasted instead of deep-fried speaks volumes to their frying skills. The croquettes were served with dollops of both ketchup and okonomiyaki sauce, of which, of course, I used the latter.

                Perhaps most unique and enjoyable was their tofu steak. Apparently a dish developed by their father, it incorporated "steaks" of firm tofu served on a blistering hot iron plate, blanketed with egg and green onions.

                I also had their BBQ beef salad, which was probably the most uninteresting dish so far. I found the greens wilted and over-sauced, and the serving size too large given the nature and character of the rest of the dishes.

                The older sister recommended two of her favorite sakes, of which we sampled both. They had also started us on complementary sake with kinpaku, celebratory sake with gold leaf, which was also featured on opening day.

                The younger sister also had made the two desserts of the evening, of which they sampled one of each for us. They were both very elegantly conceived; one was a shaved ice with plum wine gelatin, and the other was amu-tofu with ama natto. Both were very delicately flavored and wonderfully textured, without the "in your face" sweetness and heaviness of too many desserts.

                I'm comfortably over their somewhat contemporary approach to ippin-ryori, and am just pleased that they are there at all. And exciting plans are in store, as they plan to introduce seasonal dishes to the restaurant as the sun wanes and gives in to the colder days of winter. (Well this being San Diego, perhaps we can pretend to be cold in order to enjoy the foods of winter...) Like most traditional cuisines Japanese food is seasonal, perhaps even more so; it's great to hear that they are eager to reflect the calendar in their menu choices as well.

                Overall I am most pleased with this opening. And as it has already been a couple of weeks since their opening night I was unnecessarily worried about their viability. Yes, they seem to be doing a very good business, but more than that Yumeya already seems to have established that "special something", an atmosphere which is more than the sum of its parts.

                They've managed to recreate in North County a unique atmosphere of relaxed enjoyment that I associate with izakayas, the after-hours destination for many a stressed salaryman in Japan as they loosen their ties and unbutton their collars for a relaxing evening with their colleagues. In part I believe it's due to places such as the izakaya that allows them to live what otherwise would be untolerable hours at the office and away from home.

                Leucadia can now lay claim to one of the most unique roadhouse eateries in all of San Diego County!

                At first I was wondering about the viability of any restaurant with their location, but honestly now I feel it couldn't be in a better spot. Rather than being situated in "downtown" Encinitas where new faces roll in every day, Yumeya has created a neighborhood place, much like one might find tucked away in the neighborhoods of Tokyo. Yes, eating in the neighborhoods of Tokyo can be surprisingly "local", and they have precisely captured this wonderful feel. So stop in for a quick bite or a full meal, with a group at one of the tables or dine solo at the bar, and you just might feel yourself being drawn in as a regular, adding your own stamp to the wonderful atmosphere that is Yumeya.

                (I've posted pictures up at http://www.flickr.com/photos/akatayam... )

                1. Excellent report cgfan! You beat me to the pics, we went last night to our new neighborhood restaurant. I have a few more pics to add to your collection. The Ocyazuke Bowl with Japanese Wild Vegetables and dried Shisoleaf was amazing! Udon noodles were very good as well.


                  9 Replies
                  1. re: Pablo

                    Ahh yes, the sansai ochazuke... I had that upon my first visit, and it "hit the spot" for me as a closing item.

                    I haven't had their udon yet since that could be a good portion of a meal all by itself, but I will have to some day. Though they're using factory-made noodles for now, their father used to make udon noodles by hand in Japan, so it's no wonder that they could make a great bowl of udon as well.

                    Thanks for posting the pictures! It's great that you also caught the sign and the menu...

                    1. re: Pablo

                      Pablo, I just returned from my 3rd visit to Yumeya and had their udon for the first time. I came away very impressed with their noodles. Even though they may have been factory made, the experience of the father as a udon maker in Japan shows in his selection. If I hadn't known otherwise I would swear that it was handmade!

                      With Yumeya I feel that every time I return the news just keeps on getting better. On this visit I learned that the father is now making udon noodles by hand for the restaurant, but only on days when they are not so busy. As I have been told that would most likely be on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. I used to go to an udon shop in San Mateo where they handmade their noodles, but since they've closed operations there I've been without the unique texture of "teuchi" udon.

                      Well that'll probably change, as I will be sure to pay a visit real soon to Yumeya on a Tuesday or Wednesday eve.

                      (pics posted at http://www.flickr.com/photos/akatayam... - mostly taken on earlier visits)

                      1. re: cgfan

                        cgafan, this place is just wonderful, we have been about five or six times now and it does get better! We took some friends who came to visit on Thursday and on Friday they wanted to go back, so we did. I swear the udon were handmade, the texture was nothing like prepackaged. Going to have to find out what brand. Slowly working our way through the menu (and the sake menu). I still need to try the "ginger teriyaki" and squeeze in some dessert tastings, been too full to order them every time. Hope to see you there sometime! And on another note, our sushi craving is finally coming back after being overloaded at Nobu, going to hit Kaito up very soon.

                        1. re: Pablo

                          Pablo, great to hear that... I wonder if the father makes enough udon noodles for the entire week when the shop's not busy, rather than only serve his handmade noodles only on the days where he makes a fresh batch. I know what you mean about the texture. I felt the same, which brought up the possibility that they were saved from earlier in the week.

                          As to Kaito make sure you sit in front of Morita-san, the head chef there. But like most sushi bars in order to get the best stuff one would need to establish themselves with the itamae-san, which takes many repeat visits. But the only way is if you can establish yourself as a "serious" sushi devotee by staying with the traditional items and passing on all of the rolls that seems to be the norm these days, or at least by keeping that to a bare minimum.

                          For the longest time now I don't even need to say a word. He knows what's best, and that's precisely what I'll get from him. Morita-san is "the real deal". He's very humble and refuses all praise, but if you get to really know him you'll find out how truly deep his knowledge goes. You see, he'll serve all of the non-traditional rolls too and those customers are kept happy, but of course that's really not what makes an itamae-san.

                          To really understand and develop an appreciation for what goes on behind the scenes and to see the real magic that a true itamae-san creates everday, I must recommend that every sushi lover go see the Japanese drama series (available with English subtitles) "Shota no Sushi". Although the dramatic sequences are unintentionally comical and over-dramatized, the rigorous training portrayed, the attention to the minutest detail and the near encyclopedic knowledge of fish are all real. (If you're interested you should be able to find a copy on eBay for not very much...) It's composed of 17 episodes an hour each, and each and every episode reveals an incredible truth about sushi technique or secret that's fascinating as it is important. It's basically a drama that has accidentally turned into a documentary!

                          Again, highly recommended to any sushi fan!

                          1. re: cgfan

                            Thanks for the tips on Kaito cgfan. We are pretty traditional, about the only rolls we usually get are ume shiso and negi toro. Otherwise, mostly sashimi and some nigiri. Looking forward to Uni at Kaito, I hear they have some great stuff!

                            1. re: cgfan

                              Pablo, you should do really well. Yes their uni is well above the norm in San Diego. But I don't get it every time, nor even most of the time. When Morita-san serves it to me, I know that it'll be the very best. He has a one-up on most sushi bars in town in sourcing local uni. I can't divulge the details here, but rest assured that he can get you the very best.

                              Other tane that he's particularily incredible at sourcing is tako; it's a completely different experience that at most other sushi bars. To this I would add hoya and makabu, though they're not to everyone's liking and are somewhat rare.

                              When he gets comfortable with you he will start sharing his food philosophies and also discuss the particular reasons why he prepares the tane in varying ways. At times I'll also make it a point to discuss ways in which I believe I've detected how he's prepared things a bit differently and how I feel they affected the end result, both as a way of training my observation and tasting skills, but also as a way of indicating that I notice the many subtle things that he does when he prepares you a meal.

                              And he's a ground-up itamae-san, so he knows how to put together everything from the whole fish to the final cuts. Those items which require preparation, he knows how to do everything rather than many shops that get their tane pre-prepared. He'll clue you in on the days when a certain item will peak, as many tane needs several days to reach their peak. (It's a common misbelief that all tane should be as fresh as possible...) He'll also test customers when they've reached a "certain level" by sneaking in completely unannounced, for instance, a traditionally prepared sauce, whereupon if you detect the difference and accurately point it out you can be sure that he'll use the precious stuff for you on future visits. (Some of these sauces requires several days of preparation using expensive ingredients, lost on customers who cannot tell the difference between that and the bottled sauces...)

                              He also knows how to use the most obscure parts of a fish and how they are best prepared, the areas where only a rigorously trained itamae-san via the traditional methods would even have a chance of knowing.

                              In general I find that the experience one receives at a sushi bar is a two-way street, where the customer passively influences the level at which the itamae-san will be willing to take your experiences to. I think of sushi as a kind of performance art. It's a back and forth interchange, and at its best is so much more than just having a delicious meal. (My usual pattern is once I've sat down at a sushi bar I'll usually be there until closing. I'll make these visits only on days where I have nothing else to attend to for the rest of the evening, as that is where I'll end the day.)

                              Of course I could go on and on here, but I better leave it at just that for the time being. I'll be looking forward to hearing your report!

                              1. re: cgfan

                                cgfan, thank you once again for all the tips. I better be on my toes at Kaito with Morita-san! I hope Kaito becomes our regular place, we are super loyal sushi fans, and it has been hard to find new place since our last favorite went under - Matsuoka. I can't wait for Uni! Never had hoya and makabu, I don't even know what hoya is. Google is not being helpful here.

                                1. re: cgfan

                                  You'll be fine. On the surface he likes to run a very free-wheeling and social environment without any pretentions - that's just his style. He eschews celebrity shops and chefs, such as the Iron Chefs. Perhaps somewhat like Julia Child? Both passionate about what they do, never carries any pretentions, does not like to compromise in general but will adapt as the situation demands, and never takes themselves very seriously.

                                  He knows of the shops that are more "kibishii", that is, strict, and that's just not the kind of shop that he is interested in running. It's OK if most of his customers order the rolls - he's perfectly fine with that, but given his extensive background he all the more enjoys the small percentage of customers that can truly appreciate all that he has to offer.

                                  And if you haven't been inside before, Kaito can be a bit quirky. You'll sometimes find karaoke going on in the background, a restaurant space which is not efficiently used, a table menu which is fusion, an open kitchen right next to the sushi bar, and a counter height that usually requires you to have a free hand in order to receive the plate of sushi. But to me it's all about the sushi!

                                  As to hoya, it's sea pineapple. I mistyped mekabu as makabu, which is the florescence (flowering portion) of the kelp plant.

                                  On the uni he'll offer it to me when it's really exceptional. But as a new customer I'm not sure just how you would find out if it's one of those days or not. By asking as a new customer the question would more than likely be interpreted as 'is the uni "not bad"?', until he can get calibrated on what you mean as being "good". I hope this makes sense...

                                  1. re: cgfan

                                    I cringe when people ask if something is "good". It really is on the verge of insulting to assume the itamae would serve something bad. I wonder what they would do if the itamae said "No it's bad". And as you said the special stuff will come when the itamae is familiar with us. I will assume it's all good!

                              1. re: kare_raisu

                                Kare raisu, so far they are strictly dinner only, Tuesdays through Sunday from 5pm to 10p.

                                However they did mention, back before their initial opening, that these hours are just to get them a start until they "hit their stride". However I'm guessing that this will mean staying open until later, rather than adding on hours at the beginning.

                                (Though given the relatively quiet nature of their location right next to residential, I'm not sure how late businesses in that area can stay open and still meet the local ordinances...)

                                1. re: cgfan

                                  thanks for the reply cgfan.

                                  btw (apolgize for late answer), i havent tried recreating yuzu kosho yet --but i went to nijiya to buy up all the different brands for tasting research.

                                  The owner of the restaurant i work at is from Kyushu, I've been barating him to come up with a concoction for me.

                                  He makes something similar - secret recipe - though. He calls it gochujang alth. its nothing like the korean version. Only two incredients i am sure about is ichimi and garlic paste.

                                  When you make roast chicken, do you just have it on the side? What else do you use it for?

                              2. Last Saturday I had my first taste of shio-kara at Yumeya. I might be crazy, but it was good! It had a very subtle anchovy taste with a squid like texture, not overly salty. The place has been packed. Yuka-san told us that last Thursday there was a line out the door and they ended up running out of food at 8:30! This is a good sign!

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Pablo

                                  Glad you liked it. Shio-kara is a classic accompaniment to drink. I like it enough to make my own at home, and it's very easy to do. Basically if one likes the taste of liver and is not afraid of the color or texture of their food, shio-kara becomes quite "accessible" to their palate.

                                  Sometimes I think that the best chefs in the world are the microbes/bacteria - look at all the delicious things that they create, including shio-kara! And they work for free and never complain!

                                  BTW I was at Yumeya last night (Tuesday), and there were only two other parties present. Since it was a calm night they had time to make their teuchi udon, which was present in the sukiyaki that I had ordered. Wonderful texture - it certainly hit the spot!

                                2. Thanks for this reccomendation Pablo and CGfan. I went last night with two other people and had a really nice meal. I started off with a glass of their sake special which i believe was tenguka(sp)? This was nice to start out the meal with the pickled daikon.

                                  We did the ordering in bunches. We started off with black cod with miso, the squid with soy butter and the scallops with mushroooms. All of these dishes were winners though the cod was a little on the salty side, i prefer it a bit sweeter and there could have been more scalops in the dish. The Squid though was very good, tender and really tasty from the soy butter and bonito.

                                  Since the menu was rather limited i asked about my favourtie izakaya dish which was not listed, grilled smelt. they didnt have any small grilled fish but she reccomended the fried white fish with shiso off of the specials list. This was fried perfectly. We also got wild vegatbles and tofu in ginger teriyaki. this too was very nice with a good selection of vegetables, the eggplant being the star. We decided to try the sushi which they offered with brown rice. We got a catepillar roll which was light on the eel. the brown rice didnt go well in my opinion, but i generally do not order rolls to begin with. My dinner companions liked the brown rice better than me.

                                  To finish off we has what i would call the star of the meal. It was off of the specials list and i am not sure that it was too traditional but it was great. Spicy crab sandwiched between tow potato slices and cheese. man was this good, unlike anything i have had and quite tasty.

                                  all in all everything was tasty here but since izakaya sakura is closer to home i am not sure if i would be heading back. They didnt have enough fish dishes for me that i like with my sake. If i lived in the area i would probably go here reularly.

                                  On to Kaito next

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: MVNYC

                                    MVNYC: Glad you made the time for a visit.

                                    The sake you speak of is called "Tengumai", which means devil's (Tengu) rice (mai). I was there a few nights ago when I noticed it on their specials board too, though I had two other sakes instead.

                                    We can expect that soon they will be launching a new winter menu, though the specifics seem to change a bit every time I ask! (The last news of the new winter menu has it scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 17, but I think it had more to do with whether you asked Yuka or Katsu...)

                                    However what is definite is that they will be offering daily specials on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights, with each night offering potentially different dishes.

                                    I understand what you say about Sakura. Their menu items are more traditional and plentiful, but what I like about Yumeya is just about everything else. They have the best hosts that one could find, a wonderful atmosphere, a true family operation (Mom and Dad in the kitchen, with the two daughters and son-in-law in the front of the house), a seasonal menu in a place that's close to home (I'm an Encinitan...), probably the only teuchi (handmade) udon in the county, as well as what must be the largest sake selection in the county.

                                    I look forward to hearing your report on Kaito. Make sure you sit in front of Morita-san when you do go, and if you can, become a regular and stay with the traditional items. This will allow you to experience the "relationship" part of traditional Japanese dining.

                                    1. re: cgfan

                                      You know i didnt try the udon and will definitely have to make it back up there for that as well as any winter specials. The thing i was saying is i live in carmel valley so sakura is closer to me. The problem is i end up getting way too much sushi there.

                                      thank you for the advice about Kaito. I try to make myself a regular and make sure the Itamae knows that i have a Japanese stomach despite my Gaijin face. Usually the thing that gets me in is when i ask for Iwashi. I guess most americans dont like this and that is when i get offered the more unusal stuff. Small fatty fish are my favourite things in the world.

                                      Anyways what does Morita-san look like, i am assuming he would be the senior member of the staff.

                                      1. re: cgfan

                                        cgfan, Dad's been making genmai udon lately, we were very lucky to get a taste, what a treat! He really is a master udon maker! Unfortunately it will not be on the menu due to labor, but he will be making it from time to time to send out as a special dish. I hope you get to try this out when they come back from Japan in a couple weeks.

                                      2. re: MVNYC

                                        MVNYC it's limited compared to Sakura, except for the sake selection! For us it's great, we live 10 minutes away. And as cgfan said, the hosts are wonderful and the space is very relaxing, perfect traits for a neighborhood full of regulars. You are lucky being close to Sakura, I would could spend days eating off of that menu!

                                      3. MVNYC: Without giving away too much, for now it would give you an almost instant "rep" if you just asked for Morita-san when you arrive... Sorry I can't explain too much here, but that alone should give you a good start for now!

                                        1. Yumeya has updated their menu, I had some great takoyaki last night! Also the ika sansai, it's permanently on the menu now.

                                          5 Replies
                                          1. re: Pablo

                                            Pablo, could you describe the ika sansai please? Sansai veggies are my favorite.

                                            Funny you mention takoyaki, I tried out the frozen takoyaki that I had bought at Mitsuwa on sale a while back for breakfast yesterday.

                                            Not half bad to fill a craving. I havent broken in my takoyaki pan I bought from Marukai regrettably yet.

                                            1. re: kare_raisu

                                              Ika sansai is one of my most favorites at Yumeya. The ika is cooked and marinated. Reminded me of smoked tako I used to get on a sunomono salad. The sansai veges are mixed in with a little bit of sliced red chile. One order is never enough! They also have a wonderful tofu sansai with ginger and light sauce I really love. The takoyaki was my first ever, I enjoyed it but I have no other standard to compare it against. One other special, the shiokara is also now on the regular menu, not housemade though.

                                              1. re: Pablo

                                                Thanks for the reply Pablo. If you are interested in a cooking project of sorts, I have a recipe for a Hokkaido-style shiokara in my book - Quick and Easy Tsukemono. Its about the only Japanese dish I do not fancy.

                                                I actually passed Yu me Ya yesterday on the way downtown--they closed the 101 - worst traffic ever.

                                                1. re: kare_raisu

                                                  kare raisu, shiokara is interesting, not my favorite, not bad either, but I am very interested in how to make your own. I think it would be harder for me to source the "the guts" than anything, I rarely see fresh whole calamari uncleaned. I would be very interested in knowing how to make the ika sansai, the squid texture is just amazing. I certainly don't think Yumeya will share the ika sansai recipe! Need to head to Convoy to look for smoked tako too!

                                                  1. re: Pablo

                                                    Whole Foods in LJ has sometimes fresh uncleaned whole calamari. Lucky Seafood might be another source

                                          2. I am very grateful for the posts so far Pablo & cgfan on Yu Me Ya because it finally (!) resulted in my dining at this excellent izakaya this night.

                                            I have to first say that the service was fantastic. Yuko was incredibly friendly, warm and just an all-around nice person to talk with and practice my meager Japanese on.

                                            We (me and the owner of the sushi bar I work at) sat at the little bar area in fornt of the sake wall.

                                            The interior is really well designed and I liked the intimacy of the small space.

                                            What we had and humble opinion thereof:

                                            Fried Sweet Potato with Ume Mayo: Good dish but perhaps my least favorite of the evening. It was a bit oily and could have stood having a firmer bite but it was piping hot. Ume mayo could of had a little more assertiveness. I love sweet potato in any form though - so this may not be everyones piece of cake.

                                            Takoyaki: I am a Takoyaki junkie and these are honestly the best I have had. I have never enjoyed a takoyaki that has had such a crisp exterior quality. No katsuobushi which was ok since it may have detracted from the texture and flavor of these great little morsels. I believe the interior was dried shrimp filled because the octupus tentacle was not present as far as I can remember.

                                            Albacore Carpaccio: Melt in your mouth. I loved the thinly sliced sweet onion bed the sashimi rested upon that was dotted with siracha -truly a great contrast in flavors; sharp onion, fatty smooth tuna tinged with spice.

                                            Black Cod Misozuke, yamagobo accompniment: I have trouble writing that this was my favorite dish as I hold almost ever dish sampled (exception of yams) in equal high regard. But this was perfect. I did not want to chew and swallow as I savored its break-apart richness. I only wish I had some rice to stretch its goodness.

                                            I am really glad ordered a plate of oden (by piece: Daikon, konnakyu, ten-gobo and chikuwa) because I kept on wondering what this attractive steel box in front of us was. Turns out it was the Osaka box of Oden goodness! Yuko explained as they are from Osaka - the veritable eating city of Japan - that this was Osaka style oden, not as agressivly seasoned as Tokyo style. Hence, these items were accompanied by a sauce (that I regrettably forgot to inquire about) and hot mustard.

                                            I am a sucker for simmered daikon and this perfect piece did not dissapoint it its yielding tenderness, and radish aroma.
                                            I really enjoyed how the spongy tempura fish cake absorbed all of the oden broth.

                                            Followed this up with:

                                            Eggplant in broth: This is how I would consider a simple vegetable to be prepared at its finest. Dont pass this one up when you visit. Simple and wonderful.

                                            TOFU STEAK: Sizziling awesome dish. Couldnt help but be allured to it by the food porn pablo posted of this. Egg and tofu are good partners; will order again.

                                            I think the Japanese really understand an aspect of dining that not much thought is given to in other cusines. That is of the aesthetics of the dish and table ware enhancing the food placed upon. This is another (perhaps trivial) aspect of why I like this restaurant.

                                            I wish I could have gotten to watch some of the kitchen action although I had a pretty nice view of the father at work in the kitchen. I only saw the mom once. I really have a great admiration for these people and their craft working in the same field. Clearly dedicated.

                                            Yuko told me that her father comes from the town famous for Sanuki Udon.

                                            Thanks guys for introducing me to this place. I will be back

                                            5 Replies
                                            1. re: kare_raisu

                                              kare_raisu: Thanks for the detailed report! Great that you were able to make it. It's a gem of a place. It's nice to see restaurants such as Yumeya which are so clearly stamped by the mark of a passionate owner. If one were to make a list of S.D. establishments rated by the experience that their hosts create, can Yumeya be too far down from the top of the list?

                                              You will have to try the udon upon your return to Yumeya. Made by hand by the father, it is wonderful. Not only is it featured in the udon soup, but in their sukiyaki as well. (Though on the only occasion when I've had the latter I thought the broth to be too sweet for my taste...)

                                              I'm glad that you picked up on the use of traditional Japanese plateware at Yumeya. It is quite rare to see ko-zara (small plates) used to this degree other than in the finest restaurants. They are fragile and significantly increases the burden on the kitchen in both plating a dish to cleaning them after. Traditional Japanese cuisine, being particularly multi-sensory, is very focused on the visual aspects as well. There are specialized plates made for just about every type of dish. I've even made it a point to recognize and mention this to Yuka, to let them know that it's appreciated...

                                              (For a good survey of Japanese plateware, one can find a "Utsuwa No Yakata" store in many of the Mitsuwa Marketplace stores.)

                                              1. re: cgfan

                                                "It's nice to see restaurants such as Yumeya which are so clearly stamped by the mark of a passionate owner." --Truer words were never spoken.

                                                I too, have a distaste for some of the overtly sweet japanese dishes. I recently made curry from scratch using a recipe from Shimbo's, "The Japanese Kitchen." While good and complex, it was much too sweet for my tastes.

                                                If you get a chance: try out the oden. I cannot emphasize enought how PERFECT it is on a cold evening.

                                                1. re: kare_raisu

                                                  Yes, the oden. It is one of those winter-time comfort foods. I had it some time ago when I noticed that they had the oden simmering just behind the counter. These are the kind of cold-weather dishes that feels just right to me.

                                                  I'm now looking forward to trying their shabu shabu, another winter-time comfort food for me!

                                                  Thanks for the tip on the takoyaki, a favorite of mine. I'll have to look for it the next time as I have not yet had it at Yumeya.

                                                  BTW I'm a big fan of the takoyaki at Yakitori Yakyudori, in addition to just about everything else they serve there - have you tried them out yet?

                                                  1. re: cgfan

                                                    I havent got to try Yakyudori in Hillcrest yet, although I'd like to. I once joked with the chef at the restaurant I work at as he was trimming up some chicken - that we could open up a Yakitori Yatai on the side with all the chicken skin we discard. ; )

                                                    What do you reccomend from this restaurant? ANd what is the experience like?

                                                    If you try the shabu shabu cgfan, I'd definitely like to hear about their dipping sauces. Ive been experimenting with different proportions in my goma dare.

                                                    1. re: kare_raisu

                                                      Would be great to have yatai's sprout up everywhere around San Diego!

                                                      Regarding Yumeya, I've posted my findings at http://www.chowhound.com/topics/319473 , though parts of it went off-topic as Kaito-fans Pablo and moi started discussing our favorite sushi bar...

                                                      I also have a small collection of photos on my Flickr site at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/akatayam... ...

                                            2. Is anyone up for a chowdown an Yu Me Ya on Tuesday evening? I'm craving some oden.

                                              5 Replies
                                              1. re: kare_raisu

                                                kare raisu, would love to join you, but our free time is very limited by a two year old. I can really only do Friday evenings in peace for a few hours, that's when I usually have a sitter available. I know you are in the business, so weekends are probably not an option for you. We will be going to Yumeya Friday for sure, I want oden too!

                                                1. re: Pablo

                                                  Alas, I didn't make it out to Yu Me Ya last Tuesday as I could not find anyone to go with me (very regrettably).

                                                  But please Pablo, if you make it out there tonight, be sure to report!

                                                  1. re: kare_raisu

                                                    Went to Yumaya on Friday night to try out the Oden and get another taste of the delicious takoyaki. My Oden consisted of daikon, boled egg, konnyak, tofu, and I also ordered a gobo ten instead of the plain fish cake. I really loved all of these especially on these chilly nights! I also noticed someone having shabu shabu, not sure of what was on the plate but the menu states you must make a reservation beforehand if you want to order this. Pic of some takoyaki I had "to go" yesterday: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sushiman...

                                                    1. re: kare_raisu

                                                      I've been craving a return to Yumeya, especially with the spell of cold nights we've been having lately. The lower the thermometer drops the more an inner voice seems to taunt me with the promise of some comforting nimono. So although it was late and I wasn't feeling all too hungry, the night chill finally snapped me into seeking out some Japanese comfort food. Unfortunately I had arrived late enough where they only had an one egg left for oden, so I complemented that with some kushi katsu (ebi, katsu, and kisu shiso), age-dashi tofu, and takoyaki. (And although the oden selection was on its last legs, it's always the last item in the pot that's always the most wonderfully seasoned!)

                                                      As has been reported here by Pablo and kare_raisu, the takoyaki here is wonderful. It's what takoyaki should be, a simple combination of a crisp exterior with a moist, tender, and umami-rich interior that will burn you if you're not careful. The only improvemnt that I'd call out on this one would be for a bit more aonori, as the carmalized exterior and okonomiyaki sauce could have been moderated more effectively with the milder sweetness of the laver.

                                                      1. re: cgfan

                                                        I think the secret ingredient to Yu Me Ya's Takoyaki are the Osaka hands they are deftly created with.

                                                2. Those Takoyaki look really good. I havent had any since i have been out in SD but i used to go to a place on 9th street in NYC that specialized in them. I will have to make a return winter trip for oden and takoyaki.

                                                  1. May be able to get this sunday off..will report back...time for chowdown?

                                                    1. I have so enjoyed reading all these posts about Yu Me Ya, so much so that I thought it would be great for hubby and I to go there for our annual combined his birthday/our anniversary outing. We arrived at 9:00 p.m. on Saturday and were informed they were closed. People inside, music still going, but closed. We asked what were their hours and were told that they don't keep set hours, they just open and close as they feel like it. Huh? Is there some kind of secret password one has to know? I've never encountered the "hours vary according to feelings of staff" senario. I would still like to try the place, but I must say my initial enthusiasm has been somewhat dampened.

                                                      6 Replies
                                                      1. re: SDgirl

                                                        I am currently working at a restaurant with only four employees, myself included.

                                                        There is a lot of work involved in running a small restaurant, especially in the case of Yu Me Ya, which is a family run operation with likely an employee count hovering around the number at my restaurant.

                                                        When you get a chance to dine there, and I do reccomend you do - take a peek in the kitchen. The two cooks are the mother and father, probably in their late 50s-plus. They likely have started their day at 12pm or earlier -picking up supplies, few hours of tedious preparation and finally opening.

                                                        As it was a Saturday night and they honestly have a GREAT restaurant, I imagine they were probably busy - 2 people feeding maybe 40 people- eating an avg. of maybe 3 dishes in a span of 4 hours. This is also their 5th day in their 6 day work week - mind you.

                                                        When you arrived thay were likely in the process of cleaning- which is no easy job - I do it 6 nights a week as well. Manually dish-washing, sweeping every nook and cranny, then mopping the entire restaurant, taking notes as to what is required for the next day, wrapping up food materials, tabulating the night's bills, scrubbing down the work surfaces, tables etc. They are fast if they get it done in an hour. And tommorow its all over again.

                                                        Please do not let this dampen your enthusiasm for Yu Me Ya.

                                                        1. re: kare_raisu

                                                          Wow 2 or 3 dishes only kare raisu? I guess I we must be pigs.. we order like 10 dishes... :) BTW, the shrimp shumai were heavenly! And I can't stop ordering takoyaki!

                                                          1. re: Pablo

                                                            LOL - Come over to my house, I am not from Osaka but I make a mean Takoyaki. That being said, guess what I will order first when I go tuesday night?

                                                            I think 10 is about right for my count as well. *squeal*

                                                        2. re: SDgirl

                                                          SD Girl, I was actually there on Saturday night. They were packed at 5:30, that's when they open. To make things even more difficult for this wonderful little family run restaurant, one of the servers, Yuka-san had a couple of broken ribs from the day before. They were stretched pretty thin and probably ran out of of many things. A party of seven at the bar just kept on ordering and ordering... Next time, call ahead an make a reservation, it's becoming too popular.

                                                          1. re: Pablo

                                                            Thank you all for the encouragement. Kare Raisu, your description of Yu Me Ya is exactly why I find it so appealing. I have lost all tolerance for the mediocrity that is the hallmark of so many larger restaurants and am finding myself increasingly attracted to the smaller, "mom and pop" places. Pablo, I'm sorry to hear about Yuka-san and her ribs; I hope she'll get well soon. We'll try again, especially now that I know they take reservations.

                                                        3. We accidentally ran into Yumeya when we were driving on unfamiliar Hwy101 (we're from Seattle) after sunset on our way back from Legoland.
                                                          My kids in the back wanted "Oden" for dinner (being Japanese, they want Japanese soul food when they are tired :-). The request was like asking for a good bowl of Gumbo outside U.S., (NEVER thought I would find it), until I braked for Yumeya.

                                                          Ummmm ... no wonder I see a cult following here. This is definitely an Izakaya, a very at-home one with excellent food (reasonably priced, too, considering their quality). The owners (who moved from west L.A.) told us they'd been open for 4 months, and did the interior decorations mostly by themselves, I was impressed. They kindly let us use the reserved table, so we finished before the other party arrived. The food and their hospitality hit us in the stomach and the heart. Seattle has many good (and not so good) Japanese restaurants, but at Yumeya we felt at home thousands of miles away. Too bad I had to drive my family to hotel (i.e., no sake!).

                                                          1. BTW, Takoyaki is a regional food even in Japan, and it's very difficult to find a good one outside of Osaka & its surrounding prefectures (For this reason, many Osakans outside their territory carry their own Takoyaki-maker in their household, to defend against inferior 'counterfeit') It's also labor-intensive to make (constant turning to make the sphere).

                                                            I am from Osaka, and I grew up having Takoyaki as snacks.
                                                            Naturally, I ordered it when I saw it on the menu.
                                                            Hereby I declare:

                                                            I HIGHLY APPROVE OF YUMEYA'S TAKOYAKI.

                                                            In addition, finding two large pieces of Octopus in one ball was a pleasant surprise (standard practice is only one per ball).

                                                            1. We finally got in, and all I have to say is, this place is a gem! Hubby and I went on the spur of the moment, so I wasn't armed with a list from this thread of things to try, but what we had was spectacular. Nasu in bonito broth (so good I wanted to pick up the serving plate and drink the broth), okonomiyaki (savory seafood pancake -- the best I've ever had, in and out of Japan, including my own kitchen), potato croquettes (one of my husband's childhood favorites and quite a revelation to me after having been raised on my mother's leaden version; these were light, savory, and very crunchy). I had the tempura udon; the noodles were fabulous, nice and chewy. The only hitch was the broth, just a little too salty for my taste. Hubby had the sake (salmon) chazuke; who knew that such a pedestrian dish could be so good? He was especially impressed with the quality of the tea they used -- no dishwater here. My favorite part was when Yuka poured our sakes and overran them into the saucers below. Something about the generosity of that gesture really made me happy (the sake also made me happy). All this for less than we've paid for a couple of pizzas! Amazing. Hubby and I have plans to eat our way through the entire menu over the coming months. What a thing to look forward to!

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: SDgirl

                                                                Its great to hear you had an enjoyable time...especially considering your first experience. Thanks for the report!

                                                              2. tried to go there last thursday night but we didn't have a reservation so they couldn't seat us.

                                                                so my suggestion...MAKE A RESERVATION! :)

                                                                can't wait to try it.

                                                                2 Replies
                                                                1. re: mermaidsd

                                                                  I made a reservation and went Saturday... excellent specials:
                                                                  kibinago, kinpira gobo, potato crab sandwiches, and kabocha korokke. Sorry I forgot the camera!

                                                                  1. re: Pablo

                                                                    Found a pic of the kibinago on Flickr, ours were also fried but served in a slightly sweet vinegary sauce. Very good!


                                                                2. Yumeya no longer accepts reservations for Friday and Saturday!

                                                                  1. So we were all set to eat at Yu Me Ya for the first time last night.

                                                                    Sign on the door reads "Closed 2nd and last Sundays and Mondays"


                                                                    We will go back another time.

                                                                    1. We did it. We dined at Yu Me Ya, and it was fabulous. Thank you all for your wonderful descriptions on this thread. I have loved sushi for years, but this was the first time I have eaten at an izakaya. We had a wonderful time sampling the variety of dishes.

                                                                      Hard to pick favorites but if I had to:
                                                                      The Takoyaki which was filled with delicious octopus
                                                                      The eggplant (nasu) in broth
                                                                      The fresh seaweed salad
                                                                      the bay scallops with mushrooms (we are in love with the mushrooms)

                                                                      Everything was outstanding, and eating there was fun, very laid back.

                                                                      8 Replies
                                                                      1. re: Enorah

                                                                        Glad you had a chance to try it! Be sure to go on Friday through Sunday when they have specials. The okonomiyaki and the crab sandwich specials are just wonderful when they have them!

                                                                        1. re: Enorah

                                                                          If it was winter I'd say indulge in oden!

                                                                          1. re: kare_raisu

                                                                            Does anyone know if Yu Me Ya is still dinner only?

                                                                            1. re: Jeters

                                                                              Jeters, still dinner only. Oden is back on the menu!

                                                                                1. re: kare_raisu

                                                                                  My tummy is doing its happy dance right now, after just dining at the wonderful and delicious Yu Me Ya.




                                                                                  1. re: Enorah

                                                                                    Your killing me Enorah...

                                                                                    The Oden is my favorite thing there! What a perfect chilly rainy night!