Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >
Sep 27, 2010 10:44 PM

Izakaya Ginji in San Mateo anyone?

Ginji opened recently in San Mateo. Has anyone tried it?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Bumping this to see if anyone has been yet.

    2 Replies
    1. re: artemis

      Answering my own query: We tried a few plates at Izakaya Ginji last night and were pleasantly surprised by the food. Chicken items on the robata grill were $2 a stick (beef $3, vegetables $1.75-$2ish). Our Negima was grilled to perfection, juicy, tender, well-portioned and tightly-packed on the stick (we like it with shio) but took a while to arrive (they have one tiny grill). Unforgettable for me was Buta Kakuni (slow cooked pork belly) with fat that melted so convincingly in the mouth. Aji Fry was on the small side but nicely crisp and came with two kind of dips. Drinks include beer, sake and chuhai. Complimentary edamame. Taking a break from food photos so i did not take any snapshots.

      Izakaya Ginji
      301 E 4th Ave, San Mateo, CA 94401

    2. Been there twice and was impressed both times by the chef's robata skills. The Yakitori chicken were all perfectly cooked with a great touch of smoke from the Bincho charcoal. Remember to ask for cartilage - it's not on the paper menu. I love love the skin and the meatballs. I usually like the salted versions of everything so don't know what the wet versions are like. I didn't try any of the sushi but had some of their appetizer and found them to be pretty decent. Overall I think their robata grill items are the star for me.

      1 Reply
      1. re: misspiggy

        This was my third visit and here’s what we had yesterday:

        Bacon and Okra – perfect combo of fat, salt, loaded with all kinds of textures
        Okra – Again, pretty good with the salt
        Tender Chicken – outstanding, this was as good as I have had in Japan – almost reminded me of chicken sashimi
        Chicken Liver – coated with soy, perfectly marinated and cooked
        Chicken Skin – again, great combination of textures and combined with the salt - delectable
        Bowl of Rice with egg and chicken – pretty decent, perfectly acceptable
        Orion Beer – light beer – went very well with the food

        Good addition to mini-J-town in San Mateo…

        Izakaya Ginji
        301 E 4th Ave, San Mateo, CA 94401

      2. I too wondered about this place! It was packed with people, when I have looked in. No more feedback?

        4 Replies
        1. re: Trumpetguy

          I've been there twice, and thought I had posted about it, but I guess the posting was only in my head. . .

          Anyway, Ginji is pretty decent, and a welcome addition to downtown San Mateo. Although I prefer the grilled items at Kokko, Ginji has a much wider menu, including some perfectly crisped fried lotus root chips and a creamy, spicy buta kimchi udon carbonara that will be on my order list for the 3rd time. (It is the closest thing to the sublime kimchi mentai udon at Vancouver's Zakkushi.) Someone recently noted the funky fusion cuisine in San Mateo, and if the seafood at Red Crawfish and the buta kimchi udon carbonara are examples of the genre, then fusion is a very good thing indeed!

          509 2nd Ave, San Mateo, CA 94401

          Red Crawfish
          401 E. Third Ave, San Mateo, CA 94401

          1. re: pilinut

            Curious about the buta kimchi udon carbonara -- did it have a cheese sauce and some kind of bacon? Or was it just a kimchi sauce that had a creamy texture, but no dairy products?

            1. re: Tripeler

              There were thin strips of pork (possibly pork belly) and kimchi mixed into the creamy sauce that coated the udon. (I believe there is a buta kimchi sauté on the menu, which may provide the base of the udon dish.) I think the creaminess is attributable to dairy.

              1. re: pilinut

                Thanks for the description. A bit unusual but sounds good.

        2. Updates on Ginji?

          Open till 11pm on weeknights and till midnight on Friday and Saturday.

          4 Replies
          1. re: Melanie Wong

            It'll be next up on my izakayas of san mateo list. I rather liked Mai - great atmosphere, great grilled fish

            1. re: Melanie Wong

              I am very happy to report Ginji is thriving. I went back with two mates last evening.

              We ordered the following from the skewer menu:

              Chicken Negima (Thigh/Green Onion)
              Chicken Skin (Kawa)
              Chicken Tsukune (Minced meat ball)
              Shiitake Mushroom
              Cherry Tomatoes
              Chicken Thigh meat with Scallion and Ponzu sauce

              Paired all of the above with bottles of Asahi Kuronama, which is the only other Japanese-made beer on the list apart from Orion.

              Everything was perfectly seasoned with the salt - I don't fancy a Teriyaki-like sauce on all my grilled meat, the other alternative.

              Also had the boiled spinach with sesame - superb dish, and ended with the rice cake, green tea ice cream and the mango pudding.

              Brilliant all round - highly recommended!

              1. re: osho

                "Everything was perfectly seasoned with the salt - I don't fancy a Teriyaki-like sauce on all my grilled meat, the other alternative. "

                Glad to hear this, that's my preference too. I think it requires the grill chef to use better quality ingredients and have more skill as mistakes can't be hidden.

                1. re: Melanie Wong

                  Another trip and I am happy to report Ginji thrives. Worth the 25 minute wait on a Friday.

                  Excellent okra, salad with fried sardines, enoki with bacon, chicken skin and finally beef slathered with green onions. All washed down with cold house sake and Orion.

                  As authentic as it gets.