Tasting menu at Yuzuki Eatery

by foodhoe on July 27, 2016

598 Guerrero Street, (c/s 18th Street), SF | 415.556.9898 | website

yuzuki1

Mr. K and I went to Yuzuki Japanese Eatery in San Francisco recently to check out their new six-course tasting menu that provides an introduction to their Washoku menu and the Izakaya style of eating.  We enjoyed their warm hospitality and ate our way through six courses of traditional Japanese cuisine along with the sake pairing as guests of the house.  I loved being served an elegant Japanese meal that isn’t sushi, tempura or ramen!  The owner Yuko Hayashi, a native of Osaka, graciously welcomed us at the door.

yuzuki_interior

Washoku loosely translates to Japanese cuisine and the approach to achieving nutritional balance and aesthetic harmony at the table; always with attention to ingredients, presentation and taste. It is associated with a respect for nature that is closely related to the sustainable use of natural resources and a sense of seasonality plays a very strong role.  Yuzuki embraces this and the philosophy of sustainability by using cedar chopsticks from Japanese plantations that are grown in an environmentally supportive manner, the cloth table napkins are made of cotton from Japan, they recycle their  cooking oil and even recycle the bonito flakes used for making their dashi broth base into dog treats – I love it!

yuzuki_hashi

 

I aways order Japanese pickles when I see them on the menu. The Tsukemono ($8) are house-made “Nuka” (rice bran) fermented vegetable pickles, they are mellow with a lively zest that perks up your tastebuds.
yuzuki_pickles
One of the key characteristics of Washoku is that it highlights the flavors and textures of the ingredients, and the Zaru Tofu ($11) exemplifies this beautifully – fresh tofu made in house from organic soybeans using a process that takes several days.  The elegant presentation is minimalist and spare, a serene mound of fresh tofu served in a traditional bamboo basket (Zaru).
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They recommend that you taste the tofu plain first, which is nutty and sweet.  The only condiment is a tiny cup of sparkling sea salt which really brings out the subtle flavors and creaminess.  We were served a melon scented Daiginjyo Hakuro Suishu from the Take no Tsuyu brewery in Yamagata prefecture.  It was cool and luscious, perfect with the clean mild flavors of the zarutofu.

yuzuki_tofu3

Washoku flavoring tends towards subtlety with delicate flavors and is like a gentle caress as it satisfies your senses.  For the next course we entered the secret garden of Kyoto home-style vegetarian cuisine known as Obanzai ($15) where we enjoyed local seasonal vegetables served in three different preparations in small refined bowls.  The flavors are pure and understated, clean and fresh-tasting, focusing our attention on the bounty of summer.
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Lightly cooked zucchini tossed in a miso sesame puree, accented with a frond of finely shredded myoga, which is a type of tender young ginger that is like a cross between shallot and ginger.

yuzuki_obanzai_cucumber

Next was a scoop of corn infused tofu that was thick and creamy like ricotta cheese, rich with the clean flavors of sweet fresh corn, topped with a bit of wasabi and fresh corn kernels.

yuzuki_corn

I loved the cherry tomatoes in a light dashi ponzu tossed with aromatic shiso leaf, which adds its distinctive herbaceous and citrusy flavor, it’s like being kissed by summer.

 

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We split a sake pairing, which the bartender served in separate glasses.  An organic Chikurin Junmai Ginjo, from the Marumoto brewery in Okayama prefecture.  It’s clean, light with a subtle fruity character

 

yuzuki_sake

We couldn’t resist ordering one of the specials of the day, sweet succulent Scallop Sashimi from Iwate Prefecture in Japan ($18).   They were garnished with intricately carved vegetables that were both beautiful and delicious: a wedge of lemon, myoga, shiso and freshly grated wasabi.

yuzuki_scallop

Sunomono (13) made with dungeness crab and fresh Naruto wakame seaweed which is famous for its rich flavor, beautiful green color, thickness, and crisp yet soft texture.  The salad is tossed with a Tosa vinaigrette, which gets its name from Tosakuni, the historical name for current day Kochi prefecture, which is known for its bonito and katsuobushi production.  Dried bonito flakes are used to make a smokey and tart rice vinegar dressing for the light salad made with thin slices of cucumbers, wakame, shreds of dried gourd and a mound of impeccably fresh flaky crab.  Micro shiso leaves add a piquant herbaceous flavor.
yuzuki_sunamono
I loved the smiley face at the bottom of the sake glass that the Tomizu, Tokubetsu Junmai from Yamagata prefecture was served in, so cute!
yuzuki_sunamono_sake

Yuzuki claims to be the first restaurant in the States to specialize in food prepared with Salt Koji, which is a previously obscure ingredient that people have begun to embrace for its flavor enhancing properties.  It is a magical mixture of salt and a naturally occuring rice mold (Aspergillus oryzae) that has been used in Japan to produce sake, miso, and shoyu for centuries.  It is rich in enzymes which interact with protein and produce amino acids, one that is responsible for the taste we know as Umami, the all important mmmm flavor in food.  The grilled salt koji marinated yakitori is where you can really taste and appreciate the rich savory flavor and the extremely tender and succulent texture of the flesh, which also has a delectable smoky char from the grill.  The skewers are further enhanced with a squeeze of fresh lemon and a sprinkle of the elegantly restrained spice mixture called Shichimi Togarashi.  From the left, Buta bara–pork belly (5),  Negima–chicken with scallion (5), Tsukune–chicken meat ball (5), and skewers of Matsutake mushroom, each bite was delightful. This dish was paired with a junmai called Denshu from the Nishida brewery in Aomori which had a clean but rich Umami taste and mild rice aroma.

 yuzuki_yakitori

Kara-age Chicken ($11)  is a classic preparation of deep fried chicken, where the chicken is succulent and juicy and develops a crispy light mahogany crust from the salt koji marinade which  also helps tenderize the meat; it’s topped with a shishito pepper and a squeeze of lemon brightens each bite.

 

yuzuki_karaage

At the end of an izakaya meal, it is customary to finish with a rice dish, and we were presented with a koshihikari rice from the Central Valley cooked in a Japanese earthen pot (for two), that takes 30 minutes to cook.  Koshihikari is the crown jewel of Japanese short-grain rice, noted for its sweet, nutty taste and slighty stick texture.   The Salmon rice topped with salmon roe ($22), is soulful and restorative; when you take a bite the soy-sauce flavored roe pops and its mild flavor spreads in your mouth.

yuzuki_salmonrice1

Other toppings included ribbons of dried daikon and fresh mitsuba, everything combines into a soothing and comforting dish.  The sake pairing for this dish was my favorite, a Futsushu (table sake) from Yuri Masamune–Saiya brewery, in Akita prefecture, mellow and earthy, and very food-friendly…

 

yuzuki_salmon_rice

Eating this well briefly makes me want to follow the path of truth and goodness, or at least most of the time…  This new menu, designed for two people, is priced at $90.00 and the sake pairing costs an additional $30.00 per person.  I was so intrigued by salt koji that I picked up a container at Berkeley Bowl, it is both sweet and salty and it is so good mixed into summer tomato salads!  I loved the meal at Yuzuki Eatery and definitely will return to try more yakitori, seasonal specialties and the traditional Japanese desserts which we weren’t capable of trying at the time…  Thanks Yuzuki for a wonderful evening!  The hand-painted depictions of vegetables decorating the side wall of the dining room have so much character.

yuzuki_wallart

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Yuzuki Japanese Eatery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Carolyn Jung August 6, 2016 at 2:36 pm

What a beautiful meal. The corn tofu has me really intrigued, too. Have to put this one on my list of places to check out.

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