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Hanazen, Orinda

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  • anli Jun 8, 2006 02:55 PM
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My daughter and I finally tried this relatively new Japanese restaurant, which was the former site of another Japanese place called Jun Jun. I am not at all sushi-versed and my daughter only likes certain rolls. So our dinner choices were fairly tame: California roll, spider roll, and eel with avocado roll, a shrimp tempura dinner, chicken karaage and spinach in sesame dressing. We overordered and ended up taking home several items. I am happy to say that we have found our "go to" place when we have a craving for Japanese. Everything was fresh and well executed. The standout for me was the chicken karaage, chucks of lightly breaded breast meat, juicy inside and crisp outside, an excellent rendition, and very reasonable at $7.50 for basically a whole breast. There are specials on the board that list the fresh items of the day: there were fried oyster, mussel and giant clam featured, as well as several types of fish. The menu has a variety of sashimi, 3 set dinners of tempura, salmon teriyaki and chicken teriyaki and Chirashi sushi options.

The room is peaceful, with a sushi bar that seats 5 or 6. On an early Wed. evening there were 3 young Japanese ladies at the sushi bar and a couple, who seemed to be regulars.

The bill came to $52 before tip, but what we ordered could have easily fed a 3rd person. We will definitely return to sample more.

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  1. FOOD: Very good
    My husband visited this past Sat & ordered:
    Salmon Teriyaki entree served with poached green beans with a light sesame sauce, shredded cabbages, with miso soup, salad & rice on the side
    Agedashi tofu
    Avocado & cucumber rolls
    Asparagus spears with salmon roe (special)
    Uni nigiri (special)

    The salad was fresh and crunchy with a light dressing. All the sauces were well-balanced and well made (on salmon, agedashi & salad). The food was thoughtfully arranged and nicely presented on interesting, unusual ceramic ware (Diablo mag says co-owner Coco studied ceramics) that did not detract from the food. The light fresh vegetables served with the salmon teri entree balanced out the rich teri sauce. The uni was the best I've had in my life. So fresh. (I've had it in various good restos around the country and even tried catching/tasting them once myself.) I enjoyed the freshness of the ingredients and simplicity of the food (which I suppose is due to Chef Kenji's training in Kaiseki cuisine as mentioned in Diablo mag).
    http://www.diablomag.com/Diablo-Magaz...

    SERVICE: Attentive. Well paced. Co-owner Coco was our server and gave us personalized service (along with husband Chef Kenji) and took time during slow periods of the evening to chat with us. A cozy, family-run place.

    COST: Reasonable for the high quality.

    DECOR: Tasteful, clean, unpretentious. The place has a nice, relaxing intimate feel. Nice jazzy music playing softly in the background.

    Thank you Coco-san & Kenji-san!