I sat at the sashimi bar for a lunch and ate some of loveliest fish. This is a brilliant restaurant for a business lunch and at night, the space becomes very romantic. I look forward to returning and sitting at a table.
Many things here from the service on the floor to the cocktail menu to the food, are not superb. This is our third restaurant with one Michelin star in the Bay area and again we felt like the restaurant didn't carry itself up to the reputation.
Food: 3 stars
We had: chawanmushi, "Ezo" abalone and Miyagi oysters, the pork chop and the cod. I was annoyed by the over usage of Japanese terms that are not true. When a Japanese person hears "Ezo" in front of abalone, we would think of a juicy fat one from Hokkaido. Apparently, this abalone is from Kona, Hawaii, and it's a farm raised tiny baby one. Which led us to wonder if the oysters were really from Miyagi pref. "Onsen Tamago" on the tartar is of course not cooked in the hot spring, but slow poached in the high tech oven. So why not just put as "slow poached egg"?
Chawanmushi was average, and big, hence the $17 price tag. Chawanmushi litterally means tea cup steam and it's usually served in tea cups in Japan. So that was a bit odd. The shellfish with shimeji was pretty good, but the heavy butter soy based sauce was a bit much. The pork chop dish was like breakfast on super charge with buttered up potato cake looking thing, and the pork itself not so wow. And the cod dish really looked like somebody just dumped the components in the bowl. The server gave us spoons to try the broth for the cod dish, and it was bad. There was no balance between sourness, salt, umami, and after 5 minutes into eating this dish my tongue started burning. This cod dish also came with 3 shrimp wonton looking stuff with undercooked dumpling skin.
Beverage Program: 4 stars
Major plus for their hot jozo sake with Fugu fin in it. 6 oz serving is perfect and we thought it could almost be served as soup. It was delicious. The cocktail list seemed like they focused too much on the sweeter side, to support the myth of Asian food should only be matched with sweet drinks. Wine list and sake list looked decent, and we loved the 05 Sauternes they had on the dessert wine list. Great!
Service: 3.5 stars
Was it because it was Sunday that they didn't care as much? Service here is very much like the one at hotel restaurants: polite and not personable. Our server was knowledgeble and nice enough, but not memorable. I don't know about their uniform. It makes them look like they are working at Holiday Inn.
Decor/Atmosphere: 3.5 stars
We loved the dark wood theme there. The restroom is stunning with this dark wood motif and marbles! Great to have an open kitchen, but then it should showcase energetic and passionate chefs. They all looked somewhat unfocused, hence the food. It was probably the "no-boss" night. The uniform of the servers, massive display of cheaper wine on the wall and the outdated table cloth liner really bring down the sophistication of the place.
The fugu sake alone is not enough to bring us back. All of these above including tip was $175. This restaurant was build by a very smart Japanese person who decided to capitalize on Western fine dining scene's obsession and ignorance of Japanese ingredients.