Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >
Sep 1, 2008 08:54 AM

Old World Japanese?

I'm sitting here watching the original version of 'Yours, Mine and Ours' which has multiple San Francisco locales (including Lucille Ball and Henry Fonda sharing Irish Coffee at the Buena Vista). But there is also a scene in a Japanese restaurant which reminds me of the restaurants my parents took me to as a kid, 30-years ago...

Are there any classy Japanese restaurants left that have small private rooms, where you take your shoes off and sit on the floor, and have waitresses in Kimonos?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. What's Kappa like?

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

    1 Reply
    1. re: wolfe

      Kappa is probably the closest I can think of. It is very small and intimate, yes. There is a small, private room that seats four but that is usually overflow when there are no seats at the bar. Both Toshi and Rumi wear traditional garments, but somehow sitting at the bar and leaving your shoes on keeps it from being quite what I am looking for. It might be the best I can find, though...

    2. Sounds like you're looking for tatami room seating. "Search this board" for tatami turns up several (be sure to set the date criteria back a few years) but mostly in the South Bay, where Japanese restaurants flourish. Kimonos will be a tougher deal unless you can find waitresses over the age of 70. . .

      1. I wonder if the restaurant in the movie was Tokyo Sukiyaki, which is long gone, but was located near Fisherman's Wharf not too far from the Buena Vista Cafe. :-)

        Haven't been to either of these places in a long while, but Fuki Sushi in Palo Alto has both tatami rooms and kimono-clad servers. Hatcho in Santa Clara has tatami rooms, but no kimonos.

        11 Replies
        1. re: Wendy_san

          Gochi has the rooms also -- Japanese fusion tapas

          Gochi Japanese Fusion Tapas
          19980 Homestead Rd, Cupertino, CA 95014

          1. re: Wendy_san

            The restaurant could have been Mingei-ya as well. It flourished around the time the movie was made and was mighty picturesque.

              1. re: wolfe

                Before my time, but here's my posting of the recipe for the o mizutaki sauce.

              2. re: Xiao Yang

                Since it was On Demand, I was able to re-screen it and double check (there is a scene with Lucille Ball arriving at the restaurant with her blind date where she is obviously a foot taller than he is).

                The name of the restaurant is "Yoshiko Gardens" with a rather expansive entrance and the restaurant name in bright pink neon showing the guests dealing with the valet while walking under a bright red Tori gateway.

                The movie was filmed in 1968. Since they were using so many other San Francisco locales (besides the Buena Vista, there are scenes in Chinatown, on an aircraft carrier under the Golden Gate Bridge, and on a cable car), I would guess that the restaurant really did exist at some point. But who knows?

                1. re: Carrie 218

                  Interesting. But I have to say that Yoshiko Gardens sounds very much like a made-up Hollywood name, but who knows? :-) There was also Bush Garden, of which the Japanese decor door front still remains as one of the Academy of Art college sites. And I do remember passing by Mingei-ya and being enchanted by the decor, but it was much too expensive for me to set foot in. :-)

                  1. re: Carrie 218

                    You might try checking the credits for the 2006 remakie of the film. The same Japanese restaurant was used. If it does exist then there would be some acknowledgement there. I'm guessing it was a set since a restaurant by that name would leave some trail on the web if it still existed in 2006.

                    1. re: rworange

                      According to IMDB, the shooting locations are as follows:
                      ~ Culver Studios - 9336 W. Washington Blvd., Culver City, California, USA
                      ~ El Segundo High School - 640 Main Street, El Segundo, California, USA
                      ~ Los Angeles, California, USA
                      ~ Santa Clarita, California, USA
                      ~ U.S. Coast Guard Academy - 31 Mohegan Avenue, New London, Connecticut, USA

                      Leads me to believe that if the restaurant actually exists, it might be in Los Angeles. But as opposed to finding THAT exact restaurant, I was just hoping that a similar experience. BTW, a similarly-exclusive restaurant exists in the film, 'The Insider' where Russell Crowe orders a Japanese dinner from a kimono-clad waitress for Al Pacino in one of those small, intimate rooms.

                      1. re: Carrie 218

                        That was the remake. The 1968 film was filmed in Alameda and San Francisco, according to IMDB, so it's 50/50 as to where it was located. I'm curious as to how rw knows it's really the same restaurant in both films.

                        A key scene in Ang Lee's "Lust|Caution" has Tony Leung and Tang Wei in a similar-looking room in 1940's Shanghai, FWIW.

                  2. re: Xiao Yang

                    Mingei-ya ..was that the place just off Union Street?

                    1. re: ChowFun_derek

                      It was actually on Union, but set back a little from the street. It was a little pricy for beatniks like me that mostly ate Poor Boys from the deli on Green street or pork platters from Woey Loy Goey, but irresistible as an occasional splurge.


                2. Kiku of Tokyo would be my guess.

                  9 Replies
                  1. re: balzanto

                    Welcome to the board. Carrie was carrie218 in 2008 but now is carriewas218 in 2013. Hopefully she has found her classy Japanese restaurant with small private rooms.

                    1. re: wolfe

                      Nope - never did... alas...

                      But it was fun to re-read this thread after all these years!

                      1. re: CarrieWas218

                        If you ever pass through Sacramento I know just the kind of place you are looking for. Nagato Sukiyaki, open since 1970. They recently moved, and I have not been to the new location, but it is just around the corner from their old location.

                        I was surprised to find they have a pretty nice website now.


                        Check it out if you have the inclination.

                        1. re: Tripeler

                          Thanks, Tripeler! Ironically, I was in Sac a week ago and - using Yelp - found a decent strip-mall sushi bar near Auto Row that was quite good! Sorry I can't think of the name...

                          1. re: CarrieWas218

                            10 closest to Auto Row. Pick one.
                            Satori Sushi & Teriyaki Grill
                            Fuji Sushi Buffet
                            Osaka Sushi Japanese Restaurant
                            Suki Sushi
                            Kobe Steak & Sushi
                            Yoshi Japanese Restaurant
                            Wasabi Japanese Steak House
                            Ninja Sushi

                            1. re: wolfe

                              It was Crazy Sushi on Fulton. (Took me a while of googling to figure it out...)

                              1. re: CarrieWas218

                                Wow, you were pretty close to Nagato Sukiyaki after all. Next time you're in the area, give it a try.

                                1. re: Tripeler

                                  I was out there trying to buy a car... After the disappointing bait-and-switch of the auto advertisement, I literally went to the closest place that had the highest Yelp rating to the dealership before turning around to drive back to the city.

                                  But I'll try to remember Nagato!

                    2. re: balzanto

                      I have not seen the movie but I was thinking of kiku as well. They had a private woodlined room built by craftsmen from japan