Dinner at Iyasare in Berkeley

by foodhoe on April 6, 2015

1830 Fourth St Berkeley, CA  | 510.845.8100 | website

iyasare_patio2

I met my blogger friends Brenda of Bites & Bourbon, Ben of focus:snap:eat and Christina of East Bay Dish, for dinner at Iyasare recently to check out Chef Shotaro Kamio’s restaurant that replaced O-Chame when it closed two years ago.  The interior layout is the same, but all of the rustic charm has been replaced with sleek modern decor.  I kind of missed the lovely hand made wall art, but was looking forward to exploring the menu of Chef Kamio which is inspired by his native Tohoku region, a rural area in northeastern Japan.

iyasare_interior

Brenda was the first to arrive after me (on her bike no less!) and since it was a lovely sunny day we decided to sit outside (next to the heater).  We quaffed refreshing beers, took some photos and perused the menu while we waited for the others to arrive (traffic was beastly that day).  The menu has many traditional dishes prepared with a modern flourish with no sushi or teriyaki bento boxes to be found.

iyasare_patio

Once our party was assembled, we toasted each other and began the meal with a very interesting preparation of Japanese curry roasted baby carrots stacked with mounds of braised gobo (burdock root) along the bottom, and topped with crispy fried tendrils of gobo, served over a curry carrot puree and dots of Fresno-orange coulis ($10).  I was mesmerized by each bite of the sweet roasted baby carrots that were flavored with the savory curry, there were so many delicious textures in this dish.

iyasare_curry_roasted_carrots

One of my favorite dishes was the Ocean trout crudo ($16), the tender buttery flesh melts when you bite into it, topped with a beautiful assortment of fresh crunchy vegetables: compressed asparagus, English pea, snow pea, sugar snap peas, and garnished with lovely globes of fish roe and creamy avocado puree.

 

iyasare_trout

The Hachiyo miso cured duck breast ($16) was so colorful and pretty, but we all felt that we liked the description more than the actual dish.  We pictured thick juicy slices of duck breast, and were disappointed with the thin strips of cured meat because they were dry in the manner of pastrami.  I am not sure that I even noticed the shaved foie gras, but enjoyed the duck fat roasted beets and the crunchy texture of the mixed chicories.

iyasare_duck

I really loved the Sea Urchin Risotto with cauliflower puree, smoked oyster, and crispy maitake mushroom ($22).  It was super rich and creamy, the best uni pasta dish I have ever enjoyed.  The only problem is that it was a tiny portion to split between four of us, we only had a couple of bites each… I would happily eat the plate myself, next time!

iyasare_uni_risotto

The Spicy Mentaiko Spaghetti ($18) was another luscious and flavorful dish made with reef squid, jidori egg, bottarga (salted cured fish roe), kaiware (daikon sprouts), shiso (a fragrant herb similar to mint but better) and garlic-ginger butter.   The sauce was rich and creamy, each bite was a pleasure.

iyasare_mentaiko

The Okonomi pancake ($18) was very upscale made with savoy cabbage, black tiger shrimps and scallops. It was drizzled with a delicious aioli rather than kewpie mayonnaise and then topped with umami boosting shaved bonito and toasted seaweed, and our server poured a ponzu sauce around the perimeter which added a nice piquant note.

iyasare_okonomiyaki2

I ordered a sake sampler ($15) and the rest of the meal became a blur…  Sohomare karakuchi, Dewazakura Oka, Dewazakura Dewasansan

iyasare_sake_flite

Buta-charshu ($21) or tamari-braised pork belly with asari clam and pea tendril. The side of the plate is smeared with two sauces, spicy miso and hot mustard, both were very fine accompaniments to dip into.  I remember the rich broth was very good.

iyasare_clams

Pan-seared scallop with marble potato, scallion, potato puree, bottarga, and bacon-miso cream ($19).  The scallops had a very fine sear, and the potatoes were tiny and perfectly roasted.  I recall a very nice chewy thick piece of bacon.

iyasare_scallops

We split a couple of desserts, this was a bit of a mishmash with caramel popcorn, green apple slices, squares of kanten (a type of jelly), streusel and gooey scoops of housemade marshmallow.

iyasare_dessert1

My favorite of the two was a rich Matcha cheese cake with a nutty black sesame crust served with a scoop of whipped cream, strawberry coulis and blackberry sauce.

iyasare_dessert2

Our meal on the patio at Iyasare was so lovely that even the clatter and horns of the nearby trains crossing added an air of excitement.  The pace of the meal was just right, I hate it when all of the plates arrive at the same time, instead each dish was given the attention it deserved.  I can’t believe we didn’t order the Ocean Umami dish, so that alone merits a return trip…

iyasare_nightpatio

Iyasare on Urbanspoon

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Rosa April 6, 2015 at 9:12 am

Fabulous food and lovely place!

Cheers,

Rosa

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Brenda Ton April 20, 2015 at 10:19 pm

The food at Iyasare was wonderful and your post highlighted all the food we ate beautifully! Fun times…

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Shikha @ Shikha la mode April 22, 2015 at 9:38 am

Mmmmm I went to O Chame back when I used to live in Berkeley. I just got back from Japan so I’m curious to see how this place stacks up to the real deal!

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