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Aug 14, 2011 03:51 PM

B-Dama, Piedmont Ave. Oakland

There is another thread here:

But I am starting another thread titled with the restaurant name, for ease of searching.

As noted in the other thread, this seems to be a new restaurant run by the folks who run Get-A a few blocks away. Where Get-A is sushi/donburi/katsu oriented, B-dama is yakitori and cooked dish oriented, with some sushi and noodles.

There is a fixed listed of perhaps a dozen yakitori variants such as chicken thigh, skin, cartilage, heart and gizzard; pork belly; shishito peppers and some others. Livers were a special the night I went. I ordered everything grilled with sauce, not salt; next time I will order a mix, as some things go better with salt.

I am not an expert on Japanese food, but these tasted good, and similar to a couple of restaurants I went to in Tokyo last month. They were cooking these in the kitchen, so I could not see what kind of arrangement they had.

Tried a couple of the cooked dishes, beef tongue stew and sauced fried pork. Stew was delicious, almost like bouef bourguignone without the red wine. The sauced fried pork was served cool, with a dashi/vinegar/onion faintly spicy sauce. Tasty.

For those who judge by that kind of thing, I note that there were at least two parties of Japanese speakers when I went.

In the old "Sweet Thyme" Catering space next to Messob.

4301 Piedmont Ave, Oakland, CA 94611

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  1. thanks for the news ; this sounds like an izakaya kind of place. are they serving beer too ?

    15 Replies
      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        sake yes, shochu is korean so few japanese restaurant serve it. shochu's harshness (think vodka) overpowers the flavors of delicate japanese cuisine.

        1. re: shanghaikid

          You're thinking of soju. Shochu is Japanese and is commonly served at izakayas, though (since it's higher in alcohol than soju) restaurants with only a beer and wine license can't serve it.

          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            Is there a middle license? I see lots of places serve beer, wine and shochu/soju, but nothing stronger. It's generally about 20-24% alcohol. When drinking with food, people often mix it.

            Yeah, B-Dama looks like a non-fancy izakaya; appears good to me. I was in the area, but didn't have the opportunity to eat there (just took a peak inside). Small place, but wasn't too crowded on a Friday night.

            4301 Piedmont Ave, Oakland, CA 94611

            1. re: jman1

              no middle license. only beer and wine or hard liquor license (which includes eveything).

              1. re: shanghaikid

                Hmm. I believe you, but now wonder why there where all those places server shochu cocktails a few years back. If they had a full liquor license, why not use it?

                For what it's worth, Wikipedia claims that it's allowed in CA with a Beer/Wine license.


                And, here:


                "If you've had shochu in the US, it's most likely because you ate in a restaurant without a liquor license. In California and New York, restaurants with a beer and wine license can serve this distilled spirit if it measures less than 25 percent alcohol and is marked as soju."

                I've tried some of the flavored soju/shochu that Koreans and Japanese like (perhaps, mostly for young women). I tend to like it on ice; and prefer shochu that's been aged a bit. Mostly after dinner. Been told that I need to try Awamori.

                1. re: jman1

                  re: jman1
                  i'm too lazy to look it up but years ago a socal korean american assemblyman sponsored legislation that passed allowing restaurants with a beer and wine license to sell soju legally. (some cultural thang)

                  the legislation was meant to benefit korean restaurants who were then selling soju "under the table" in teapots. of course, other restaurants started sellng soju cocktails.

                  no logical explanation for the soju cocktails except that soju became a marketable fad. anyone with any kind of liquor license could sell it.

                  1. re: shanghaikid

                    Good bit of history. And, it explains the teapots at the Korean version of izakaya (perhaps).

                    I did see the line that it had to be called "soju"; not just any <25% alcohol would do.

                    Kind of thought that ouzo/raki/arak should be allowed as well (people drink it watered down to well below that level and it serves a similar function in meze places).

                    1. re: shanghaikid

                      Wow, that's quite a specific loophole. Not more than 24% alcohol and imported from Korea.

              2. re: Robert Lauriston

                Soju can be as much as 30% alcohol. Typically closer to 15%/30 proof. Like vodka, it doesn't need to be harsh, but it is strong and not in any way a refined rice wine.

                Most of what's served in soju bars in SF is junk, just as most well alcohol is cheap and strong.

                1. re: Windy

                  For some reason this brought up memories of one of the worst headaches I've ever experienced. Was after drinking some kind of ginseng soju. And, she claimed it was her grandparent's favorite drink.

              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                Wonder if it's the same 3 that Ju-Ku serves. OK, they have 4 (one for use with mixers and three to drink straight). Perhaps only funny to me that it's the same number. BTW, the ones at Ju-Ku where quite common.

                Reading the comments, I've now upped B-Dama on my list of East Bay places. ;-)

              2. re: Robert Lauriston

                I went this weekend and seem to recall seeing shochu listed on the drinks menu. Perhaps my quick glance was mistaken?

                1. re: kauz

                  No, I was, I corrected myself above.

            2. I think the cold preps are especially noteworthy here. My favorites so far are the boiled beef tongue (marinated in red miso, sliced thin, and served cold), the onsen tomago ("hot spring" style poached egg, again served cold in a soy-dashi broth), and the batananban (the fried pork dish described above).

              And we always get an order of the karaage (Japanese-style fried chicken). Simple and very good.

              One of the chefs has a background in Japanese-French kaiseki, so supposedly there's some of that influence on the menu as well -- I'm not familiar enough with the cuisine to say for sure which items. In any case, even though it's a very casual (and inexpensive) restaurant, many of the dishes are quite elegant.

              1. Went last night. They were out of a number of things, including the fried pork, but the server didn't know when she took our order. In the confusion I think we ended up ordering badly. We didn't get a sushi menu, no problem since we wouldn't have ordered it anyway.

                I like that they have draft beer.

                Robata items were OK for the price, but I prefer Kirala or Ippuku. Server eventually came by to ask if we wanted anything else, we said we were still waiting for mushrooms and chicken skin, she went to check and they had run out.

                Everything else we ordered was cold. The marinated eggplant, which we got because we said "oshitashi" and the server heard "ohitashi," was the best thing we had. "Chinese water spinach" (not ong choy, not sure what it was, maybe pea leaf) was under-seasoned. Cold soba and green tea noodles came plain with a bowl of ponzu for dipping and a tiny amount of green onion and ginger on the side, too bland.

                I'd like to go back to try some of the hot non-robata dishes.

                5 Replies
                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  I think the yakitori menu is a little bit hit-or-miss -- the chicken thighs are great, as is the duck (off the specials board). Chicken meatball and chicken skin were both pretty bad when we ordered them. That said, the prices are a lot lower than Kirala or Ippuku.

                  In general, the food here errs on the side of being underseasoned. Sometimes this really allows the ingredients to shine; sometimes it does end up being a bit bland.

                  Kirala Restaurant
                  2100 Ward St, Berkeley, CA 94705

                  2130 Center St, Berkeley, CA 94704

                  1. re: abstractpoet

                    The duck was on the checklist, we had it, it was probably the best of the skewers but not great. Maybe they grill over gas rather than charcoal?

                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                      There's definitely charcoal, but I felt with some of the items that they weren't grilling long enough or hot enough. That was definitely the case with the chicken skin, which is meant to be crispy but wasn't at all when we had it.

                  2. re: Robert Lauriston

                    Regarding the soba; I don't believe that it's usual to serve soba with ponzu sauce. Zaru soba is usually served with soba tsuyu. Doesn't typically have the citrus of ponzu.

                    1. re: jman1

                      I'm just repeating what the sign on the board said.

                  3. Get-A has always been a wonderful sushi choice for us. Inexpensive and yet high quality but without high-class ambiance. Since no one can get my husband to avoid dropping rice on himself or dredging everything in soy sauce, the ambiance at Get-A is just right: homey, friendly, non-judgemental and just super-nice. There wouldn't be a long waiting line if there wasn't such good, cheap food and such friendly people.

                    I am certain that the owner of Get-A would bring his knack for quality food and great service to B-Dama. The cooked food I've had at Get-A was stellar, from oyako to aga-nasu. (I don't like teryaki stuff, so I can't judge that.)

                    I can't wait to give it a try.

                    4301 Piedmont Ave, Oakland, CA 94611

                    1. We've been a few times now and hope to go again soon. B-dama is proving to be a favorite for the whole family, just like Get A. We've enjoyed nearly everything on the menu including cold items, grilled skewers, and sushi. My particular favorites were the chicken karaage (best I've ever had), a deep-fried shredded vegetable dish (can't remember the name) and the spinach/tofu/sesame dish. We also loved the tomato salad -- probably seasonal -- it was heirloom tomatoes dressed and garnished similarly to a traditional ankimo.

                      Great addition to the neighborhood, and a good use of the retail space.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: bemused42

                        I agree - the chicken karaage was excellent. Large pieces of chicken and skin, fried up beautifully. And the tomato salad was really good. Lightly dressed, highlighting the tasty tomato.