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Japanese in East Bay?

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Not looking for an O Chame kind of a rec...want a real authentic hole in the wall kind of place. Any thoughts?

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  1. I like Serika in Theater Square in Orinda. Not a hole in the wall, but not O Chame form over function, either. The owner is a real Tokyo trained sushi chef, no gimmicks, just good food. One of the few restaurants where both sushi and cooked dishes are good.

    1 Reply
    1. re: recycleit

      I'll second Serika. Always fresh, good service, nice nigiri as well as some non-traditional rolls. Seems like the same guys have been behind the bar for years.

    2. Norikonoko is where I go when I'm looking for homestyle Japanese: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/36992.... Very homey (family-run?) hole in the wall with only homestyle dishes (no sushi, or if any, I've never noticed it).

      1 Reply
      1. re: coolbean98

        Me too. It's indeed family run. From my point of view one of the very few restaurants where the people cooking grew up with delicious Japanese food and want to share it with others. I've never seen sushi either.

      2. Banzai Sushi is hole in the wall, mom and pop, very homey. Sushi is stronger than their cooked dishes. In Berkeley on Camelia St. behind REI on San Pablo/Gilman.

        1. oh, gosh, the only place is Kirala on Shattuck, by the Berkeley Bowl. Absolutely fresh, and worth waiting in line for (no reservations). I drive from SF just to eat there.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Tamlin63

            Looking at the line, you might think that Kirala was the only Japanese restaurant in Berkeley. Good food but it's no hole in the wall. I love their butterfish.

            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              I how I miss that, among other dishes.

            2. re: Tamlin63

              Joshu-ya on Dwight and Telegraph is as good if not better than Kirala but about half the price. I would reccomend sitting at the bar, the fish tends to be better when you do, along with faster service.

            3. try yume in alameda. they don't do crazy rolls here just real simple fresh sushi in a tiny setting on the 2nd floor. you have to get there early or be prepared to wait.

              1. Yusan in Richmond/El Cerrito was somewhat mixed. First time i went the nigiri was some of the frestest, sweetest I've ever had. Mmmmm...fatty tuna. But the second time, was not so great...lukewarm and fishy. My suggestion, sit at the counter/bar to make sure you see the cuts coming.

                2 Replies
                1. re: nicedragonboy

                  I'm surprised you had a bad experience at Yusan, if you mentioned it to Yusan himself he probably would have had the cutter commit sepuku with a dirty knife.

                  We've always had outstanding fish there, and they have a lrge following absolutely devoted to the place.

                  1. re: Scrapironchef

                    yeah, I should have brought it up but I was in a rush that evening to meet with a client. and yeah, I was really surprised too since my first trip there was so good.

                2. My husband and I are not sushi connoisseurs (in fact he's not a huge sushi fan, but usually has a few pieces with another dish... maybe teriyaki or tempura) but we like Nanayiro on Shattuck in Berkeley. Its homey, good value and everything we've ever had there has been fresh and tasty. Everyone is always friendly there and there isn't usually a wait.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: chemchef

                    Is this the one that took over Anzu? My family had a very satisfying meal there recently. The service was gracious and the food came out relatively fast. Although we missed Mom and Pop Anzu the kitchen was usually timid. The new menu was pinted quite small for us chowhound boomers.

                    1. re: bunnysitter

                      I don't think so, since Anzu is still there. We live very close to there and Anzu has always looked a little 'scary' to us. Its good?

                      Nanayiro is on the northeast corner of Channing (I believe) and Shattuck. Its in the royal blue tiled building. As you said, the food is delivered promptly, graciously, and the sushi is always fresh.

                      1. re: chemchef

                        We went to Anzu. The layout of the restaurant is narrow and seats maybe 8+ tables.
                        I find it aged and very homey. I was there with my teens, one a CAL student and seated near us were neighborhood regulars and a few students. Not a happening place, but the food was reasonable with some combinations/sushi rolls which were satisfying.

                  2. For the Fremont area there is only one great Japanese restaurant. Yuki shush.

                    2 Replies
                      1. re: drcuisine

                        Thanks so much for recommending Yuki. We've finally found a winner for sushi in Fremont. The fish was so fresh and yummy! We will be back again and again..

                      2. I ate at Sushi Yoshi once right after work. It was early and I was the only one at the bar. The food was good but did not leave me needing to go back. Always a little strange eating in an empty restaurant. I have been eating lunch at Yuki Sushi at least once a week for the past two years and can honestly say it is one of the very few places that consitantly packs a crowd luch or dinner.

                        1. Try the Drunken Fish at Piedmont and Broadway in Oakland. Very good and without the annoying wait, herded to the bar of Kirala. Not the attitude, either. Good sushi, good rolls.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: lintygmom

                            Kai's in Alameda also has a pretty good rep, and they are opening a new spot in Old Town Oakland

                          2. What about Sushi House in Alameda? I've been going there for 4+ years, and even though they opened up a bigger location, it's still always packed! Go early, or expect to wait 1+ hours minimum, even on a weeknight!