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Best Special Occasion Japanese?

I'm looking for a restaurant to celebrate a birthday next month. Obviously good food is a must, but the atmosphere also needs to be there (will only be there with my girlfriend, so something romantic, nice interior, etc.).

My first thought was Kaygetsu, but I wasn't sure if it passed the "atmosphere" test. Thoughts?

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      1. Kaygetsu is beautiful inside, serene, and ideal for kaiseki cuisine. The down side is that it's located in a strip mall. Pleasant surprise or bad location. You be the judge.

        I second the Kappa rec if you decide to pass on Kaygetsu.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Porthos

          Let me change "beautiful" to "cute" when describing Kaygetsu's interior so I don't mislead anyone.

        2. I 2nd/3rd the recs for Kappa in SF and Kaygetsu in Menlo Park, although the edge goes to Kappa for being much smaller, intimate, and run completely by a husband and wife team. Kaygetsu's interior is not as splendid.

          1. Bushi-Tei, although that is somewhere between Japanese and Japanese fusion. It isn't as fusion-y as, say, Ame. But it also is not straight forward Japanese. (If Japanese/French fusion is what you are after, Ame might fit your bill.)

            4 Replies
            1. re: whiner

              I was going to mention Ame as a possibility, too. Its heavily Japanese influenced in both food and service/ambiance. If the food is along the lines of what you're thinking, the atmosphere perfectly meets what you're looking for.

              1. re: ccbweb

                Thanks - I was looking for something more pure japanese though, so it sounds like Kappa or Kaygetsu is what I'm looking for.

                Now the hard part of picking between the two...

                1. re: gemster

                  For a little bit more in depth research and for an idea of the food visuals, go to www.flickr.com and search for "Kappa San Francisco" and when you are done search for "Kaygetsu". Tons of great photos for you to decide. Don't forget www.yelp.com (lots of photos there too for the two listings).

                  1. re: K K

                    If you can get the room with the unique triangular table, Kappa will give you the maximum privacy. Kiss is absolutely tiny and definitely not romantic, even though the decor is nice. I find it embarrassing that everyone in the restaurant can hear when someone inside the restroom flushes the toilet! Ame is super-nice, but it's no longer authentic Japanese. I don't know what style you like, but many people don't mind traveling to Sushi Ran in the North Bay.


            2. Tekka may be another good choice

              1. Kiss is amazing, very intimate and the food is excellent

                1. Placed

                  Kappa Japanese Restaurant
                  1700 Post St, San Francisco, CA 94115

                  Kaygetsu Restaurant
                  325 Sharon Park Dr Ste A2, Menlo Park, CA 94025

                  1. Though I haven't been there in over a year, you may want to consider Hatcho in Santa Clara because they have individual tatami rooms (with wells) that offer a nice, private atmosphere. We were able to do an omakase as well (seafood). The food is quite good but, of course, not on par with Kaygetsu, though I do not think Kaygetsu's atmosphere is very special. I have never been to Kappa so can't comment on the atmosphere there. I would not recommend Tekka for atmosphere at all and also would hesitate because the owner only opens when he feels like it. :-)


                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Wendy_san

                      I highly recommend *against* Hatcho after multiple visits last year. The place was pretty large, with the husband at the kitchen and the wife ("Lisa") splitting her time manning the sushi bar and talking to the customers with her better English. One time I ordered a nabe and she suggested adding lobster which she said would only cost a bit more. Turned out "a bit more" was like $50. I then tried a kaiseki in a tatami room for $100 per person, after she proudly proclaimed her husband to be a kaiseki chef. The whole experience was pretty cr*ppy, with all the dishes coming out all at once, and there was no subtlety or sophistication. With Kaygetsu, Nama Nami, Hoshi, etc. in the area, Hatcho isn't even worth a grade of B- in my book. To be fair, it's still quite a step up from your typical no-name Japanese restaurants in the South Bay.