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Good Japanese Restaurant on the Peninsula?

I've lived in Japan and have had really good Japanese food so maybe I'm too spoiled. I'm having some difficulty finding a really good, authentic Japanese restaurant on the Peninsula. Does anyone have any suggestions for a restaurant between San Mateo and San Jose? The price range can be up to $80 per person if it's good. BTW, I'm not too crazy about Fukisushi in Palo Alto.

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  1. Gombei in Menlo Park. Homestyle Japanese cooking, not sushi.

    2 Replies
      1. re: lintygmom

        Thanks for the info...haven't been there in awhile but when I did go, it was good, homey food.

    1. Kaygetsu in Menlo Park - if you search there's nothing but raves about this place. you can order a la carte instead of kaiseki and come out to about $60 per person i believe (i haven't been able to resist the set menu yet). excellent food, excellent sushi, excellent service. a perfect 10 in my book.

      If you're willing to travel a bit south I like Tanto in Santa Clara, Gochi in Cupertino, Kitsho in Cupertino and Sawa in Sunnyvale. I have also heard good things about Tekka in the city, but the seating times and space has been putting me off.

      1. Restaurant Mai and Kisaku in San Mateo are good for what you ate in Japan. (not sushi).
        Sushi Kei in Millbrae for ippin ryori and good sushi.
        Sakae in Burlingame if you have a lot of $$.

        1. Fuki is kind of like a jack of all trades restaurant, does a lot of this and that. In addition it is one of the oldest restaurants in the area, but doesn't mean it is necessarily good or authentic. Generally the newer the restaurant, the more up to date it should be in terms of dining trends and offerings (hopefully close enough to the country of origin). They need to be competitive to stay in business, otherwise it is just another addition to the oversaturated landscape.

          "Authentic Japanese food" is a very generic term. There are so many different styles out there, although over here we only have a small representation of them.

          Gombei in Menlo Park and San Jose are ok, kind of like counter food. Regular menu items are decent, but the more authentic Japanese style set meals are offered on the white board. A friend once referred to their fare as "country style".

          Kaygetsu is upscale dining, and there's a kaiseki set dinner option that will likely set you back $100 to $110 (reservation in advance), although you can order dinner menu dishes/a la carte to keep the costs down. For lunch they offer a variety of set lunches but last I recall it was nothing special/unique. Sushi is superb here with limited selection.

          Try Hattoriya in Mountain View/Palo Alto off 280 on San Antonio, for more down to earth cooked food like omurice, various grilled fish, and other white board offerings that are not teriyaki, tempura and the common stuff. Stick with the white board, regular menu isn't as exciting.

          Saizo in Sunnyvale has some very nice authentic set lunches. In fact most recently they have an unagi over rice (served with unagi kimo/unakimo which is the liver) with pickled veg and a very nice miso soup that seems to have a fish based broth (or just made with katsuoboshi). The presentation and taste is representative of good quality Japanese in Japan or Hong Kong, at a restaurant. I haven't been to dinner in a while but if you like modern izakaya style food that mixes elements of Japanese with some western along with upscale/intimate decor then Saizo, Gochi, and Tanto would fit the bill.

          Sumika in Los Altos is a newish superb yakitori-ya, pricey, upscale, meant for hanging out with friends for drinks. They use free range organic chicken from Petaluma and practically everything they offer is authentic (cooking style, flavor, they even imported the skewer chef and the binchotan charcoal from Japan who is also skilled at cooked food). Appetizers are unique and different. Even the atmosphere, customer service is top notch and "authentic". There's a cheaper yakitori-ya in San Jose called Sumi-ya but there haven't been any reports lately.

          Nami Nami in Mountain View offers Kyoto style koryori during dinner and their set lunches are pretty decent. No comment on Sawa Sushi except don't expect to spend $80 or less there. Kitsho in Cupertino has superb sushi, cooked dishes/appetizers, and supreme soy bean based dishes (in house made tofu, natto, miso).

          1 Reply
          1. re: K K

            Here's my post on Saizo,
            including a photo and description of the set lunch, a good deal.

          2. Umie, were you looking specifically for cooked dishes of a certain type (izakaya, ramen, kaiseki) or sushi? For the big Peninsula sushi list v. 2.0, see


            Sushi Monster

            1 Reply
            1. re: Sushi Monster

              I like all kinds of Japanese foods (Izakaya, kaiseki, sushi etc) and my son loves ramen. I just checked out the sushi link that you sent....that information is awesome.

              There were several mentions from others re: Kaygetsu...I've been trying to get a reservation but just hasn't happened yet. I also agree with KK re: Sumika. The chicken itself used for yakitori was delicious...definitely top notch.

              Judging from the responses, it sounds like a need to venture out north to San Mateo/Burlingame area and south towards Cupertino/Santa Clara area also. Didn't know some of these restaurants existed in Mountain View so I appreciate all your feedback.

              I'll have fun trying out all these restaurants. Thanks!!

            2. I've always been partial to the Ramen Club, on California Dr. in Burlingame, but I haven't been in a couple of years.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Zach Georgopoulos

                A second on Ramen Club and its sister restro Kaimuki Grill (2nd and El Camino in San Mateo). Always well prepared and reasonably priced.

              2. Akane in Los Altos is great and right in that price range

                1. Some restaurants not mentioned include Yoko's (downhome style) and Chika (lots of Western-style Japanese food), both in San Mateo, Halu Ramen in San Jose, and Hatcho in Santa Clara. Yes, Kaygetsu is probably the most authentic and it's wonderful but the kaiseki set menu is extremely expensive (especially if you get the paired sake) and seems to be going up in price regularly. :-(

                  1. I'm assuming that Kaygetsu is not suitable for bringing children who are 10 years old...partly due to the menu prices and also the atmosphere. I'm trying to get a reservation there with some friends who have a son (very sophisticated taste and loves Japanese foods).

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: umie77

                      Kaygetsu is not suitable for children even with sophisticated tastes.

                      1. re: umie77

                        I've read reviews online by parents who gave Kaygetsu low marks for practically driving customers away who have infants, toddlers/young children regardless of how quiet they would be (or how mature their tastes are), even though there are tables/seats available.

                        From a business standpoint, I can understand that.and wouldn't take my little girl there either myself, as much as I would love to have dinner there sometime.

                        But Kaygetsu is not alone. I've also talked with a sushi restaurant owner some 2 years ago (very reputable place), and he too would prefer if people left their kids home, because his vision for the restaurant is not necessarily a family oriented gathering, but rather for expense account folks or those who want to spoil themselves, and not to want to be interrupted by crying or cranky infants. Very mean I know, but if it were me I'd take my kid to somewhere more friendly.

                      2. I'll try Kaygetsu with adults only....I'll probably enjoy the whole experience much more that way.

                        Thanks for the feedback!.