Where to partake of the best sukiyaki in the S. Bay, or Peninsula?
- letsindulge Oct 27, 2013 08:35 AM
This fall weather is stirring my craving for hot pot foods. Had Korean dolsot bibimbap last weekend @ Tofu House in PA. Now seeking outstanding sukiyaki. Where is your favorite?
I recall getting a fine one at the ever-popular Sushi Tomi in downtown Mountain View. This respected restaurant has since expanded to offshoot sites including SJ, though I cannot speak from experience of those. At MV at least, avoid peak dining-out times, because there's often a mob waiting for tables.
History to be aware of, just in case you weren't: Sukiyaki was very popular in US mainstream culture 50 years ago, around President Kennedy's time, when many people cooked it at home in table-top electric skillets (the fashionable kitchen appliance of their day), encouraged by popular general cookbooks like the Joy of Cooking. As meal-in-a-pot dishes go, it's well suited to quick cooking at the table, which must have contributed to its popularity.
Sukiyaki likely was the US's main introduction to Japanese food. Later mainstream interest in sushi and sashimi from the 1980s forward (although sushi bars had had brief US fashionability earlier, in the 1930s, long forgotten by the 1980s) reshaped perception of Japanese cuisine toward raw foods and eclipsed sukiyaki in popular culture. I'm referring entirely here to perceptions in the US, not Japan. Younger Americans who grew up after sushi and sashimi were common may be unaware of all of this, and might find sukiyaki novel. I agree it is an extremely comforting cool-weather dish!
[edited -- oops you were asking about south bay. sorry. but for anyone in sf...]
Shabusen in Japantown has a nice sukiyaki.
I like shabusen for shabu-shabu but every once in a while I get the sukiyaki and it's great.
It's the only place I've had it, though, so I don't know how it compares to others.
This sidesteps the question a bit, but making it at home gives terrific results because you can use the best quality meat that restaurants generally won't stock and prepare it to your desired doneness.
If you head into Nijiya or Mitsuwa and pick up a pack or two of the best stuff - Kobe/Snake River Farms or genuine Wagyu beef, sukiyaki base, mirin, firm tofu, enoki mushrooms, yam noodles and cabbage, you can make a great sukiyaki in little time.
Yes, the Nijiya market chain seems sometimes like it was built around sukiyaki shopping, including those paper-thin fresh-looking beef slices so prominent in Nijiya meat departments.
In my experience though, good Bay Area Japanese restaurants certainly have used decent quality beef -- including Sushi Tomi in the S. Bay, already mentioned.
Sukiyaki is, after all, simple folk cooking, not one of those rarified Tokyo sashimi feasts served for hundreds of dollars per person in tiny restaurants off back alleys, solely to people who know the secret password and have someone to vouch for them.
There's a place in San Mateo with a big Sukiyaki in its name, Fuji Sukiyaki on 3rd, but honestly it doesn't seem promising.
I think you're better off aiming for some good bowls of ramen, and chinese hot pot, and mexican spicy chicken soup.
There's a place I've got my eye on - Taste Good Beijing in Milpitas - that'll be one of my stops when I want some soupy goodness.
Fuji Sukiyaki (aka Sunny Sushi) is a long-standing operation run by a Chinese family (the waiters and owner/chef speak Cantonese). We used to go in the 90's when we didn't know better and didn't want to splurge on Sushi Sam's. It's just middle-of-the-road Americanized Japanese fare.
Which causes me to look up Sushi Sam's menu, they do have a sukiyaki. Bet it's good.
I would actually try Fuki Sushi for this.
They're underrated for their non-sushi eats, and they place Sukiyaki prominently on the menu (and are near the OP's choice of Tofu House for Korean - couldn't be much closer).
Big but: I don't eat at Fuki anymore because I've found sushi places I like a LOT better, and because my dad stopped asking for Fuki.