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May 26, 2013 04:33 PM

Has anyone tried Diner Japonica 593 Woodside Rd., Redwood City

Diner Japonica took over the former El Hueco spot.
I haven't seen a menu posted anywhere. Has anyone been?

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    1. re: Melanie Wong

      Okay, I took one for the team. I had a (second) dinner to give the place a try. I had the chicken kara age appetizer and the chicken omu-rice. The kara age wasn't heavily breaded nor was it strongly flavored. (I've had it at places that threw curry powder into the coating, others that decided to make it spicy.) The kara age was served with a lemon wedge on a folded piece of paper towel that helped to absorb some of the oil from the chicken. The chicken itself was juicy and cooked just right, but I'm not sure I'd order a full order for myself again. The chicken omu-rice is an omelet filled with chicken fried rice and topped with a brown gravy. A dab of a (house-made?) chipotle ketchup sits at one end. The flavors of the fried rice were rather muted and I've come to the conclusion (based on this omelet and one in Hawaii) that I don't think fried rice in omelets is one of my favorite combinations. The brown gravy was mild, where as the ketchup actually had some zing to it. I think I might have preferred that the amounts of each be swapped.

      Anyhow, the place was empty when I got there at 8:25 p.m. One couple did show up after I was seated. They ordered bento boxes. The dinner menu has a few items (like the omelet) that are not available at lunch time. I've scanned the two most relevant pages of the lunch take-out menu and linked to them. You'll need to rotate them on-screen or twist you neck to an unnatural angle in order to read them. :-)

      There are also desserts (green tea cheesecake, ice creams) available as well as a modest selection of drinks. Nothing alcoholic that I recall, but then again, I don't partake, so I tend not to pay attention.

      Diner Japonica is open Monday through Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. for lunch and 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. for dinner.

      1. re: Peter Yee

        Thanks for taking one for the team . . . though sounds like not too much of a sacrifice. And especially appreciate the menu scans. I'm interested in trying the curries listed on the menu, sounds like they're made from scratch.

        1. re: Melanie Wong

          I went back last night for another sampling of their dishes. I started with the tempura appetizer which consisted of cauliflower, broccoli, white onion, red bell pepper, asparagus (2 spears), carrot, purple skin potato, kabocha, and 3 shrimp. Not terribly crispy, but quite tasty with the dipping sauce. For $6.50, this is a really good deal.

          So, since you expressed interest in the curry, I tried a katsu curry pork (see picture). The pork cutlet was juicy and not over salted, making for a nice balance with the curry sauce which has a medium mild heat to it. Accompanying the rice were some pickles. Perfectly satisfying.

          I finished off with a slice of the green tea cheesecake which was dense and crustless. The green tea taste was not overbearing or bitter, although I would have preferred no whipped cream since that tends to mask the taste of the cake.

          I also got a to-go order of the ginger pork for my wife. I was expecting a stir fry-type ginger pork like we had in Mountain View more than 20 years ago at a long lost Japanese restaurant. Nope, it was more like small, boneless pork chops served in a ginger onion sauce. My wife said the taste was very close to what she was hoping for, so that dish was a winner as well.

          I should mention that live blues playing next door did come through the wall and blend in with the Bob Marley playing over the speakers. That may just be a Saturday thing as I didn't hear anything the first time I visited.

          So, any other takers? :-)

          1. re: Peter Yee

            A few other notes.

            The lunch menu no longer offers the burgers. Those are covered up on the menu board.

            The salad dressing is home made and pretty decent. Much better than a lot of the dressings served with the salad you usually get with a combo dinner at other Japanese places.

            They're pretty good about seating you if you make it there with minutes before closing time and seem the let to-go orders in even after closing time. Just look to see if the "Open" sign is still lit.

              1. re: Peter Yee

                You've been quite the trouper!

                I quite like the mildly spiced, slight sweet personality of Japanese curries. If you've been to Muracci's in Los Altos, maybe you could compare them.

                1. re: Melanie Wong

                  I think the cutlet was better at Diner Japonica. I can't contrast the sauces because I tried a really hot one at Muracci's, so it sort of overwhelmed the base flavor to a certain extent.

        2. I haven't had the dinner but the lunch is exceptional. I typically get the katsu curry. It has a mild sweetness that is nice but it isn't over powerful in it's "curry"-ness if that sounds counterintuitive. I prefer this over Muracci's but will spice the Japonica curry with togarashi. The katsu is cooked perfectly so that you can cut it with a fork. No knife needed.
          When I wanted to try something else I had the bento box with the teriyaki chicken. Teriyaki chicken is the the default of any asian lunch place but this one surprised me. The sauce wasn't saccharine sweet with just enough tang. I had to double check if the chicken was cooked since it was so tender (and it was). It was hands down the best chicken teriyaki I've had.
          All this for cheap price. No frills atmosphere with mostly local Japanese workers stopping by for lunch.

          Haven't been on the posts in a loooong time. Nice to see Melanie Wong still posting!
          - Hoon

          3 Replies
          1. re: crimson

            Omigosh! You've only been AWOL for 7 years. How wonderful to see you here again, have you relocated to the Peninsula? Reading your report about anything that you like still makes me want to run out and try it. But ya gotta remember to use the signature sign off, "crimson out". ;)

            1. re: Melanie Wong

              Yup. I've had a job down in the Peninsula for the past 7 years, and with the commute haven't had much time for much else. Plus having 2 kids in the meantime. I did get to try out a few places down there as well as trying to eat at all the restaurants in Alameda. at

              - crimson out

              1. re: crimson

                Congrats on all fronts! Doing yeoman's work on the Alameda front . . . inspired me to post a note here on Dragon Rouge that I don't see on your tumblr. Please don't be a stranger, we need your palate and opinions especially for the Peninsula.


                ETA: Feel free to copy and paste text from your tumblr here and post a link. That's permissible now with recent changes in site rules. And oops, you have been to Dragon Rouge, I shouldn't have trusted the search.