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May 6, 2008 10:27 AM

Hiros is now Rikyu

I tried the new place at 5335 College last Sunday night. It was great. First off, it is not called Takara (I forgot to look back at what was on the prior post so may have misspelled the name here, please forgive me). That is the owner/sushi chef's name. He is from Kirala, however. The restaurant is called Rikyu. It is a pleasant space. It was practically empty on Sunday evening around 7 p.m. I ate at the sushi bar.

I had miso soup to start and it was very good. That is one of my tests of a Japanese restaurant. This was nicely balanced and the tofu was very fresh and delicate. Fresh tofu is another test, IMHO. This was excellent.

I had a number of nigiri sushi, uni, unagi, saba, toro, halibut, and octopus. All were delicious and very fresh. They were also beautiful. The amount of fish on each piece was generous as well. The chef gave me a taste of the spicy tuna that I think was mentioned here before as part of the shouse appetizer. It was great but I would suggest you eat it at the end as it is quite spicy and interferes with the delicacy of the other items. Two things stand out, the uni was very fresh and tasted like the sea, as it should. The saba (mackerel) was also good and did not stay with me for the rest of the evening as mackerely that is not completely fresh can do. The pickeled ginger was not pink...

They have also a regular menu of tempura, teriyaki, shioyaki etc. and they say they serve noodles at lunch. The chef goes to the market every day and if the spinach, for example, does not look good, he doesn't serve it that day.

I hope others will try Rikyu and I look forward to hearing your comments.

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  1. Nice report. Thanks

    Rikyu Japanese Restaurant
    5335 College Ave, Oakland, CA 94618

    1. We went last night (Friday) around 5:45pm and it was virtually empty as well. Service was friendly and efficient. I recognized the Sushi Chef as being from Kirala, which we thought was a good sign.

      We ordered the regular Sushi Dinner (7 pc Nigiri and one Spicy Tuna Roll), and one Deluxe Sushi Dinner (8 pc Nigiri and one Tuna Roll). I would definitely say order the Deluxe for the extra $4 as the selection was far more appealing.

      With dinner we were first served a salad and miso soup. The salad had a few nice segments of orange, a little bit of seaweed, and a few cherry tomatoes. Not sure what the main flavor in the dressing was.....perhaps a mild yuzu vinaigrette? And the miso soup was ok, but on the weak side as well. I prefer mine a bit heartier. The waiter then brought out a bowl of very flavorful edamame, "compliments of the chef". Really nice touch.

      The sushi itself was unfortunately disappointing. I had really hoped we could find a place close to home that had comparable sushi to Kirala. I know alot of CHs don't think Kirala's worth the hype or wait (and some nights when you want an easy walk-in, it's not), but I've always been a fan and still hold East Bay Japanese restaurants to their standard. Rikyu's sushi was at best good to at worst sub-par. On the regular sushi dinner, the standouts were the squid nigiri, snapper nigiri, and spicy tuna roll. Everything else (maguro, salmon, etc) was not very tasty or overly fresh. I left one piece (not sure what fish it was--opaquely beige) because the texture and color were too unappetizing. My hubby's deluxe fare looked much better. Among his selection he had a very fresh ikura (which he easily traded me for my tamago), seared tuna and hamachi nigiri, and others I forget. But being the pickier of us two, he ended up leaving two unfinished nigiri on his plate.

      Maybe we should have ordered sushi ala carte, but being our first visit, I wanted to see and taste a cross section. Not sure how they would do on their cooked menu items and may give them a shot next time. But we're in no hurry to try sushi again at Rikyu's.

      1. We were really craving sushi tonight, thinking that it would be the perfect way to cool-off from the heat wave, so we thought we would give Rikyu a try. It is very easy to miss (especially coming from 51st ave. side). Anyhow, we got there at almost 10pm (which is past their closing time), but they invited us in anyways, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was nicely air-conditioned.

        Sitting at the sushi counter, we ordered directly from chef Totsuya Koyake (I think that's the correct spelling, but I may be wrong) who is a native of Kyoto. We got ocean trout, ikura (salmon roe), amaebi (sweet shrimp), hotate (scallops) and tamago (egg) nigiri. We also ordered ankimo (monk-fish liver) and a Rock 'n Roll. I also wanted uni, but the chef stated that since he couldn't find uni that looked fresh and good, he decided not to serve it today. The fish was extremely fresh and the serving was very generous, the ikura was marinated just right and piled high, the amaebi nigiri had TWO fat shrimps on each piece and the ocean trout (which is apparently a type of salmon) had just the right amount of fat. We also enjoyed the delicate flavors of the ankimo.

        Since we were practically the only customers in the restaurant during the second half of the meal, the chef told us that his Garden Roll would be a good starter if we came again (it is seaweed and thinly sliced cucumber wrapped around celery, shiso, red onions, avocado and something else I can't remember). Then he proceeded to make a tasting serving of it for us to try! He also offered to let us try his new tempura ice-cream invention which isn't on the menu yet (and I thought, oh, another tempura ice-cream), but to my surprise, it was green tea ice-cream with a layer of purple yam around it and then fried. The addition of purple yam brought a complexity of textures that made it a great dessert that was crunchy on the outside, smooth in between and cold and rich on the inside.

        Overall, we spent $44 before tax and tip which isn't bad at all. The key is to listen to the chef's suggestions regarding what's fresh (ocean trout, ankimo and garden roll were on the specials board). The service was very attentive (I think it was the owner/chef's wife). The fish was fresh and priced reasonably, certainly beats having to wait in line at Kirala. Recommended... hope that it lasts!!

        I've attached pictures (ikura+hotate, ankimo, tamago+ocean trout, amaebi).

        1 Reply
        1. re: liujenny

          Two more pictures of the garden roll and the tempura ice cream. Now that I'm looking at the picture, it's asparagus that's in the garden roll that I forgot.

        2. Thanks for the reviews, which piqued our interest and prompted us to try Rikyu. It was wonderful!

          We focused on the raw items, and had tuna poke, ocean trout, salmon, sea eel and tai red snapper nigiri, and spider roll and rock and roll. Everything was sparkling and very fresh. The tuna poke had little jalapeno and cucumber pieces that gave it a very refreshing taste. The ocean trout, salmon and the rock and roll were probably the best we have had - creamy texture and pristine flavor. The spider roll was excellent - less-than-fresh softshell crabs can be sea-y some times but not here - crunchy and tasty. The only thing we were not very keen on was the tai nigiri with shiso leaves, but I think it had more to do with the type of fish and the fact that I am not wild about the shiso flavor.

          Unfortunately, it does not appear as if business has picked up significantly since the May reviews. At prime time on Saturday, we were one of three tables occupied (though a couple of other groups came in during the course of the dinner). The chef specifically stopped by to say hi. Uzen the next block over had three times the number of diners, but Rikyu's sushi is the best we have had in East Bay, and top-notch in the Bay Area. I hope that more diners will find this place and give it a try!

          1. We went back today and everything was as pristine as last time. This is absolutely one of the best places for traditional sushi. However, the dining room was largely empty at prime time on Saturday night - very distressing to see, particularly with much less memorable places such as Garibaldi right across the street and Uzen a couple blocks up always bustling. I hope that the word gets out soon on Rikyo. If you have not yet been, please give this place a try.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Maple

              Thanks for reporting back. I must have missed this thread back in the summer and had *no* idea such a promising place had opened up so close to me!

              1. re: Maple

                Rykio is our local standby place for sushi. We have always really enjoyed our meals. My husband concentrates on the nigiri and I opt for the rolls. The fish has always been fresh and the service attentive. In particular, I have really enjoyed the spicy tuna house special. It is spicy but so GOOD. The only drawback of this place and perhaps the reason why its not full all the time, is that it does not have much ambiance if that is what you are looking for on a night out.