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Feb 14, 2005 11:13 AM

Ume no ya (san diegO0

  • j

Did anybody ever went to the japanese restaurant "Ume No Ya" on Miramar Rd. It is a very small restaurant and I drive by everyday on my way to wark and was just wondering if it is worth visiting. Here is a photo from Japanses page:

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  1. I've been there 8 or 10 times, but I've only had one dish. I really love their nabeyaki udon, so much that I order it every time. It's served boiling hot and is very comforting on cold rainy days.

    Whenever I've been there I hear alot of Japanese spoken among the customers, so I think it's quite popular with native-speakers.

    1. Old thread but I thought some people might be interested that when i went to Ume No Ya today for lunch that they have sign that they will close the restaurant end of May and move to another location on Convoy were currently Ichiro is located. They are also planning to "update" their menu. I always enjoy Ume No Ya for it s good food and relaxed/slow ambience. I hope they will have a similar atmosphere at Convoy and hopefully don't changte the menu too drastically.

      10 Replies
      1. re: honkman

        Great news!

        I actually take that as good news as it sounds like they're reaching towards making the restaurant more viable. I've always had a special place for Ume no ya; good "homestyle" Japanese dishes simply but deliciously prepared, but was always worried that with their location and lack of customers that they're forever on the brink of not making it.

        A strong part of their menu has always been their specials board. I hope they keep the same tradition of having the hand-written "Kyo no Osusume" board going in the new location. They will have to learn, however, to step up the service big time in order to stay viable on Convoy. (I never minded the "patient" service, it was so in keeping with their literal Mom & Pop staffing, but a new location means new customers with different expectations on service...)

        1. re: cgfan

          "(I never minded the "patient" service, it was so in keeping with their literal Mom & Pop staffing, but a new location means new customers with different expectations on service...)" - I am especially worried about the "patient" service which I always liked at Ume No Ya and which I agree with you won't work on Convoy. On one side it is always good that good restaurants try to get a larger customer base but as with small unknown rock bands you somehow discovered you always worry that they will start to "sell out" once they have success.

        2. re: honkman

          Nice to know this! Somehow we haven't made it here, probably b/c it's not on the usual Convoy route.

          1. re: honkman

            Interesting news.. So what is happening to Ichiro's? Closing or moving elsewhere? I'll be sad to see Ichiro's close (or maybe it already is?) if that is indeed the case. Even though their food is rather americanized I enjoy their teriyaki steak and sesame chicken.

            I've been to Ume No Ya once for lunch. I ordered the sesame chicken and it was pretty mediocre. What dishes would you guys recommend from there?

            1. re: mliew

              The board on the door was a bit unclear what happens to Ichiro, e.g. if they close, join forces etc.).

              1. re: mliew

                Sounds like you've been ordering from the "wrong" menu, depending on how you look at it... I actually never even ordered off of their English menu; to me it seemed that those items were there more as a concession for their Western diners. Rather I've always ordered off of their Japanese menu and especially the hand-written board they prop up in the very back of the room.

                My advice would be to go for the classic Japanese homestyle foods, which is why I go there. Generally that would be any of their "set meals"; these are usually based upon some seafood item or grilled fish, with Gohan (white rice) and some Tsukudani (prepared toppings for rice), Oshinko (Japanese pickles), Misoshiru (Miso soup), etc, or again whatever is on their specials board.

                However, and I may be wrong about this, but somehow I wouldn't expect that part of the menu to be a big "cross-cultural" hit. The typical kinds of fish preferred for grilling are particularly oily and "fishy", and in fact many modern Japanese households have either minimized or eliminated cooking these kinds of fish at home due to the lingering odors that they're known to leave behind in the kitchen! (Which is all the more reason for them to patronize a restaurant like Ume no Ya... They still get to eat the fish they prefer, but without stinking up the kitchen!)

                I actually see their move as a play to get more of the Japanese business. Not sure if the demographics works out, but I can almost picture their restaurant being more popular amongst an older Japanese crowd, a place that can be a late night watering hole where simple homestyle, even nostalgic, cooking can always be found and perhaps a Karaoke machine in the corner featuring mostly Enka (Japanese nostalgic, usually regional) music.

                For me the departure of Ichiro's is no loss, but I do wonder if it'll be too large a space for the Ume no Ya folks to handle. While a similarly sized space as Ume no Ya, in reality Ume no Ya used just a mere fraction of their actual square footage as anything more than 4 occupied tables would have been pushing it for them.

                Whatever they end up doing in the new location I do hope they keep their daily specials board; their quirky library of Gurume (gourmet) Manga, and their even quirkier collection of Japanese kitch (Sumo, Mingeihin [folk crafts], and beer memorabilia)...

                1. re: cgfan

                  Any suggstions on how to order off the Japanese menu when one doesn't actually read Japanese?

                  1. re: DiningDiva

                    Good question. Maybe they have an English version of it? I don't know since I'm always handed the Japanese menu. Or perhaps the standard English menu has these items on it as well? I don't know, but whenever I go there with non-J compatriots I'm always the only one ordering something completely different and very "homestyle Japanese", while the others invariably order the more caricatured Japanese items that has more easily managed to cross the cultural divide, single entree items such as Yakisoba or Teriyaki chicken.

                    What I relate to as the "homestyle Japanese" items are served Bento-style. Traditional Japanese dining emphasizes having a variety of items at all three meals of the day, typically a soup, steamed rice, something pickled, something boiled, something broiled, etc. The focus is on having a variety of cooking methods, colors, textures, temperatures and tastes with each meal, so what you end up with is a wide assortment of very small bites all assembled in the convenient divisions of the Bento-box.

                    BTW the Bento-box is a convenience; a more formal setting would require specially designed and shaped ceramic dishes (Kozara) for every single item. The overall shape, features, texture, and size of a Kozara determines what it can, and cannot, be used for. (A good place to observe an extensive use of Kozara is at Yumeya...)

                    Actually most of these items should be rather accessible, with the only caveat being the protein items. They'll often feature what can be described as "particularly fishy fish" that's normally not served in restaurant settings but often prepared in the Japanese home. These are the Yakizakana (broiled fish) that is popular in Japanese home cooking using particularly oily fish.

                    Imagine in particular various sub-species of mackerel, often simply salt-roasted whole, and depending on the particular variety served, with its guts intact (which is prized and meant to be eaten, particularly with Sanma [Pike Mackerel] or some Marubo-shi Himono [partially sun-dried fish kept whole])... At other times they're split-open like a book, washed with salt water then partly sun-dried (Himono) before being broiled. In the end these very oily fish are just seasoned with salt and eaten as is to emphasize their natural taste, though they are sometimes eaten with soy sauce and/or some grated Daikon.

                    At times items which may accompany these Bento can be challenging as well, such as Natto (fermented soy beans) or Shiokara (fermented squid and squid guts).

                    Perhaps these are not really challenges for the CH'er, but I'm just mentioning this as these are items that one could spend a lifetime eating at various Japanese restaurants and never come across this sub-genre of fish dishes...

                    1246 N Coast Highway 101, Encinitas, CA 92024

                    1. re: cgfan

                      Actually fishy fish and Shiokara would probably be a challenge for me. I suspect those are probably preparations I'd have to try (possibly several times) before I developed a like or dislike for them ;-).

                      So, you read Japanese? Are you fluent as well?

                      1. re: DiningDiva

                        Yeah, that's why I was thinking that should it have been that they actually moved to Convoy that the stronger part of their menu would not be a good fit for most walk-ins.

                        And as I think I mentioned elsewhere on these boards, many more modern Japanese families nowadays have banned the broiling of fish (Yakizakana) inside the home for the persistent smell that it leaves behind, even though they like the taste... This is even with the availability of household electric fish broilers with built-in catalytic converters to deal with the oily smoke...

                        BTW I do read and speak the language... Though we grew up in L.A., it was actually our first language growing up!

            2. I stopped by this place yesterday, and the sign about moving said that 5/28 was their last day at the previous location. They plan to open at the Ichiro location on 6/5.

              4 Replies
              1. re: karaethon

                I wonder if they're doing some kind of joint venture with the Ichiro folks. Last week when I drove by Ichiro's to see if there's any sign that Ume no Ya will be coming, if anything it looked like Ichiro's changing focus and identity a bit by calling themselves Ichiro Sushi and ???, I can't recall the details. They have posters up and a specific date when this will happen. There was no mention of Ume no Ya anywhere, nor any indication that a new operation will be moving in other than the slight rebranding.

                I left thinking that there must have been some kind of misunderstanding about Ume no Ya moving to that space. Perhaps they mean that they'll be moving in to that mini-mall, though there was no obvious space for them to move into...

                Guess we'll just have to wait and see...

                1. re: cgfan

                  Here is a link for a photo from the post in Ume no Ya: (from the Radiused Corner blog)


                  1. re: honkman

                    Thanks for the link, honkman! It does appear from both this posted notice and the postings at Ichiro's that they'll operate under the Ichiro branding. Still curious whether it's some kind of joint venture or the folks at Ume no Ya are just going to be the new operators of Ichiro's. Time will tell...

                    Personally I'd much rather have Ume no Ya's cooking and menu over Ichiro's.

                    1. re: cgfan

                      Word is from industry folks that Ichiro's will be hiring the chef from Ume no Ya, so that's probably how Ume no Ya's menu will influence the offerings at Ichiro's. I was hoping against hope that Ume no Ya will continue as a separately identifiable business, but sounds like that wasn't meant to be. But with the changes in the back of the house it might make Ichiro's a more compelling destination...

              2. Ichiro does sushi on Friday nights with Yasu-san who's a decent chef and a very nice guy. I sure hope they don't kick him out. I am going to stop by next Friday and see what's going on.

                1 Reply
                1. re: thirtyeyes

                  Dang, I wish I had read this board much sooner, just so I could have eaten at the Miramar location. I went by this past Saturday and it was closed (obviously) with no sign on the door about a move/closing/etc. I fear I may have missed out on a gem of a restaurant. Will try the new Ichiro though.