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Jan 20, 2007 05:05 AM

Traditional Homestyle Japanese Cooking in S.F.

We were invited to lunch at Hotaru Japanese Cuisine on Powell between Washington and Clay. (not related to Hotaru in San Mateo) We ordered the tuna special (a belly-cut grilled to perfection), teriyaki chicken (moist and tender), and seafood udon (a generous portion served in a traditional cast-iron bowl) and grilled smelt. The food was standard Japanese fare but since everyone in our party has dietary needs, we were delighted that the chef was very accomodating in preparing our food with low salt and low fat -- yet everything was delicious.

There is a large selection of fresh fish, including tuna, swordfish, bass and scallops. They have an off-menu dish, Gintara kasuzuke that was highly recommended. California roll sushi, was included with our specials and the menu has a full selection of many types of sushi.

Service is attentive and the waitress was particularly knowledgeable about nutritional benefits of ingredients.

There is a parking garage a block away, across from the Chinatown library.

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  1. Kasuzuke??? I've never seen it anywhere other than Minako. How exciting.

    Can you say more about price? Could it be a workday lunch place or is it more a special-occasion place?

    1 Reply
    1. re: david kaplan

      Just wanted to let you know that kasuzuke (usually salmon and black cod) is also available at Miki, in the Outer, Outer Richmond on Balboa and 37th -- it's one of my favorite things to order there. The only thing is that they sometimes run out of it (it's only on the "specials" board), so I'd call ahead if you were counting on having it.

      I look forward to trying the kasuzuke at Hotaru sometime and having a taste-test!

    2. Black cod marinated with saki paste is around $15. It is not on the regular menu, so you have to ask for it. No need to dress up, it is a down-to-earth place with reasonable prices. Lunch specials from $6 to $9. The cook used to work at Blow Fish, Kansei, Tampopo before he started his own restaurant. Let me know how you like it.

      1. Just a little comment, when I hear chicken teriyaki, udon, I don't really relate these to "traditional homestyle Japanese". When I read your title, I was expecting more of Kitchen Kura style of restaurant.

        Does anyone know of any other restaurant that serve traditional homestyle japanese other than Kitchen Kura?


        1. Are you guys talking "peasant" food or family food, sukiyaki, fried rice, fish or unagi over rice, etc? There use to be Kitaro on Geary near 21st but it changed owners and went "upscale" a long time ago.

          1. Problem Child, I'm with you.
            On the Bridge in Japan Center is regular Tokyo coffee shop serving homestyle dishes--pilaf, curry rice, wafu spaghetti, hamburg, etc. Dojima An on O'Farrell nr Stockton makes the best katsudon in town, and usually there's a wait. Oyaji out at 33rd & California for various things. Kisaku in San Mateo. Kitchen Kura is a good example. Kasuzuke is avaialbe at a number of restaurants including a delicious high end lunch special at Kyo Ya--but you can just as easily buy it at Nijiya or any other Japanese market in town and cook it yourself--wipe of the excess kasu and broil.

            Let's Cook Japanese Food! Chronicle Books April 2007

            3 Replies
            1. re: Tabetai yo

              I didn't realize that pre-made kasuzuke from a store was even an option! Is it kept with the fresh fish at places like Nijiya?


              1. re: Emily Hope

                yes, in the refrigerated case with the fresh fish. There's the gindara--black cod with white colored sake lees--and also sometimes sake (salmon) misozuke, a similar idea as the kasuzuke but with miso as the fermenting agent, and saba (mackerel) misozuke as well.
                You can buy the package and freeze it if you want to keep it for a bit before eating. My husband defrosts it in the microwave (just make sure it doesn't cook in there).

                1. re: Emily Hope

                  Berkeley Bowl sometimes has kasuzuke. I think it's always been salmon. Minako is the only SF restaurant I've eaten it at.