Chika - San Mateo
San Mateo continues to offer some great Japanese and Chinese restaurants. Last night we went to Chika, which specializes in Japanese Western-style food as well as izakaya type offerings. They do not have sushi but they serve sashimi. I know Chika was located before in San Francisco, but I had never been there.
Our party of four shared several plates and also got our own entrees. I had the mushroom (kinoko) pasta, which tasted as good as any I've had in Japan and, really, even better. Our friend had the meat sauce pasta and felt the same. Good Japanese pasta is always cooked perfectly al dente and these didn't disappoint. My husband had beef curry and a bowl of tanuki udon (also excellent). Another friend had the hamburger steak. We shared sashimi salad, tebasaki (chicken wings), and grilled hamachi.
With two pitchers of Sapporo draft beer and a glass of plum wine (ume shu) the bill was about $133 before tip.
The restaurant has only been open a few weeks and was pretty empty. It's in the old Camrahn Bay site at Third Avenue and Ellsworth. It doesn't have an izakaya feel -- more elegance and quiet, actually, which was kind of refreshing, with jazz music playing in the background. They are closed on Tuesdays, but open late (at least until 11:00) the rest of the week.
Here's a link to the English menu:
With Yuzu (37th Avenue and El Camino), Yoko's (2nd and Delaware), and now Chika, we don't need to spring for a ticket to Tokyo (or a long drive to the South Bay) to get authentic and delicious Japanese food.
Been there on Monday lunch and dinners on weekend. Even though it was always rather empty, the food did not come quickly. So, don't go unless you are planning to take a long lunch. Everything I tried is wonderful. Their grill food is particularly good. I tried the Kamachi Karma and grilled gizzards.
The first time I went there for lunch. The waitress was very nice and offered to translated the Japanese menu for us. Essentially, the English menu and Japanese menu offered the same type of food. However, the combo meal in the English menu includes California roll; thereby, $2 more.
interesting. i used to be something of a regular at their old location in the inner sunset, where they were known and loved for grilled fish shioyakis, various usually meaty specials, constantly playing japanese food videos, the cozy mom and pop atmosphere, and being open reliably late. honestly, it felt like a japanese neighborhood pub. i miss that.
in fact, my favorite thing was to ease into some hot sake and order one of the shioyakis and a gohan set (hot miso soup, steamy glistening mound of rice, crispy crunchy tart n salty pickles). the equivalent of fish n chips, vinegar, and a pint at the pub. nothing could be more satisfying on a cold summer's evening in the sunset.
now, its japanese pasta and jazz? guess they're trying to broaden their appeal, but aside from parts of the old menu, it doesn't sound like the same old chika. i hope it works out, cuz the folks were nice and the food authentic, well prepared, reasonably priced and satisfying.