nami nami in mountain view
I had quite an interesting meal at a new Japanese restaurant on Castro Street, in Mtn View, called Nami Nami. What caught my eye was their menu: it's completely different from the pedestrian sushi & udon menu (though they do have sushi); instead, they offer items like beef tongue, duck breast, and drink "snacks," like squid with squid liver.
I ordered the beef tongue, and was surprised by the presentation: two generous slices of tongue in sauce, topped with pillowy "clouds" of finely shaved raw onions and what appeared to be fine, red threads--they looked like giant saffron. It took me a while to identify the threads as very thin pieces of red pepper skin. The tongue was quite good, too--though a bit difficult to handle with chopsticks.
My wife got cod: a snowy-white piece of cod on a bamboo leaf. The cod had been broiled until the skin was crisp, and there were intriguing garnishes: a piece of dried persimmon, an unknown red pickle, black "beans" on a bamboo sliver. And guess what? The fish was tasty!
We also tried duck breast with mango, and a salad of chrysanthemum greens with tofu skin. Both were quite good.
Service was a slow but courteous--they're obviously still trying to find their rhythm. Anyways, I hope they do well, and I'll be back to try the rest of their menu.
re: Melanie Wong
To research Melanie's question, I stood outside the restaurant in freezing weather for more than 10 minutes to look through the menu. Very intriguing menu, and the myriad of unique items implies the chefs have some true skills at Kyouryouri. The beverage list is truly extensive: Many shochu's are meticulously categorized according to the raw materials used(rice, imo, barley, and many exotic others). Markup is almost outrageous. A bottle of so-so Yokaichi shochu wholesales for less than $10, and they are selling it at $35. Similarly for Torikai rice shochu ($30 to $60). Kakunkou sells for $240 (or $250)! I remember getting a small glass at Kiss for only $30-40. The place looks sexy, and there's tons of space between tables. I have a bad feeling this upscale restaurant won't last too long, because it's expensive, and unlike other fancy/fancier restaurants on Castro Street like XANH, it doesn't appeal to a wide audience. Time will tell.
I also had a chance to try Nami Nami recently. The food was okay, but the service was incredibly slow and uncoordinated and some of the menu descriptions were misleading. Their menu is a nice departure from the usual sushi/tempura/teriyaki you see at most non-ramen japanese restaurants in the bay area, but they'll really have to tighten up their operation before I consider going back.
thanks for this review! the BF and i walked by yesterday and took a look at the menu but the place was empty. the sign in the front says it's "kyoto" style cuisine. perhaps we'll go back and try it.
The red pepper skin threads, as fine as coarse hair, are a Korean item, and are easily found at Korean markets. I've never found a more pleasant way to eat hot pepper.
the restaurant was fairly packed when I went (friday dinner)--I'm certain this contributed to the slow & confused service. Like I said, they're obviously new & still trying to figure things out.