Tag Archives: takoyaki

Yume-ya Japanese Izakaya

2 Aug

I thought I knew Japanese food. I love Japanese food and eat at Japanese restaurants quite often. Turns out I’ve never eaten izakaya style food. Izakaya is like a Japanese bar that serves small plates of food (like tapas in Spain). Yume-ya in Sunnyvale, CA is a cross between an izakaya and a sushi joint. We went with a friend who regularly goes and can order in Japanese so I got to try several new dishes. Don’t be scared of this next picture.

First, we got raw squid that had been marinated (fermented?) in its own gut juice (ika no shiokara). The dish looked pretty disgusting. It was very salty with a hint of lemon and the texture was slippery and soft. I couldn’t chew what I assume was the skin layer. I probably won’t order this again.

Next we got garlic shoots with fatty pork belly. This dish was shining with oil but tasted good. The greens were crisp and had excellent onion flavor. The pork was melt in your mouth (because it was mainly fat). I only wish it could be made with less oil.

We also had beef tongue and takoyaki. The beef tongue was grilled nicely and was tender. The sweet vinegar dipping sauce paired nicely with the salty meat. The takoyaki was fresh and hot with the octopus inside not being overcooked. Nice presentation but could have had more bonito flakes, I didn’t taste them at all.

Two orders of uni nigiri and a giant seaweed onigiri came next. Uni is sea urchin and I love it. These tasted great and were creamy. Yum! The rice in the onigiri was cooked perfectly but I didn’t love the spicy filling.

We also got sweet shrimp nigiri, which is raw shrimp. This was my favorite new thing to try. I’ve never had raw shrimp before and it was so creamy and delicate. The wasabi in between the shrimp and rice was great burst of flavor combining with the shrimp and roe in your mouth. This is a must try.

Lastly, we shared a bowl of chazuke, which is rice and fish roe in hot tea. I would have preferred salmon to the roe because I don’t like cooked fish eggs, but it was a comforting finish to the meal.

There were two dishes that we tried but I didn’t get a picture of before they got eaten (I’ve linked to pictures I found on google). One was mackerel, or saba, sashimi. This fish had a nice salty and fatty flavor. The other was fried shrimp heads, which was creepy to me at first due to the large eyes staring at me. I was converted once I bit into the crunchiness. It was a tasty bite.

Reviews: Otafuku and Podunk!

28 Sep

I finally got to go out today and spent the day exploring two new restaurants and shopping at Union Square with two of my friends, Ying Ying and Mou. It was a lot of fun and I liked both restaurants so I recommend them to you! I definitely want to visit these again. Too bad the weather was humid and rainy. We even walked through a street fair along Broadway but I didn’t bother taking my camera out in the rain.

We first went to Otafuku for a snack (breakfast for me.. it was 1pm). Otafuku specializes in Japanese street food and offers a very limited menu of yakisoba (seafood fried noodles), takoyaki (octopus balls – also in plain or cheese), okonomiyaki (pork, beef, shrimp, squid, corn w/ scallion), edamame, some drinks and some desserts. The food ranges from $3 to $8 excluding drinks and dessert.

Here’s Ying Ying enjoying her $1 iced barley tea on the one and only bench outside the restaurants. There isn’t any seating inside. Mou is inside ordering.
otafuku front

There is very little space inside and they don’t like you staying in the restaurant to wait. They make you wait outside once you’ve placed your order and paid. Here’s the dude filling the giant takoyaki pan with batter. You can see the okonomiyaki (savory pancakes with cabbage and meat) being fried in the front.
otafuku takoyaki making

Close up of the dude putting the second layer of batter on top of the octopus filling. They later flip the balls over with a stick but I missed it. Crappy pic because it’s dark inside.
otafuku takoyaki making2

Here’s a half eaten picture of Combo B – 6 octopus takoyaki and 1 order of shrimip okonomiyaki. It takes 10 minutes for them to cook the pancake. Mou got his takoyaki much faster than us because those were made from the last batch. Everything was smothered in a tangy dark sauce, mayo and bonito (fish flakes). Yum. Combo B was $8. It was a filling snack.
otafuku food eaten

After that we walked around the fair and shopped at 14th Street. By then it was around 4pm and we were dead tired so we walked all the way back to 5th St to have some tea.

We went to Podunk, a quaint little tea house run by a quaint little old lady. I loved the place, the small room was full of old fashioned memorabilia and had a mismatched assortment of picnic-y tables and chairs. Most seated only 2 people while there was a party of like 6 by the door when we entered. The place filled up quickly after that.
podunk sign

Counter where you place your order. There’s no wait service here, you order, pick up your things, bring it back and pay after you’re all done.
podunk counter

View of the rest of the room from our table by the counter.
podunk room

I had the Nibbler Tea which was $16 for one person (different price if shared). It included cheddar crackers, apricots stuffed with Gorgonzola cheese, spiced cookies, mini scones, mini apples, clotted cream, apricot jam, and what I believe to be fig jam with herbs (not sure). The pot of tea was included and I went with the recommendation of apricot tea. Oh my goodness this was fun to eat. The jams and cream were absolutely delicious. And the tea was divine.. with sugar and cream as well as without.
podunk nibbler tea

Ying Ying had the Cream Tea which was maybe $12 or $14? I forget. Hers included scones, mixed berries, straberry and apricot jams, clotted cream and grapes. She also went with the recommend tea of ceylon (being poured in the background).
podunk cream tea

Picture of the tea with sugar, cream and lemons. Not pictured was Mou’s peppermint tea in a blue pot.
podunk tea

The teas are around $5 to $8 for a personal order if I remember correctly. They have a large tea menu with iced teas as well. Also several “teas” that include food and tea going up to $25. Everything isn’t cheap but since everything is hand made and presented so beautifully, it’s worth the experience. The owner is polite and doesn’t rush you at all to leave at all (though she did seem to get annoyed when she called an order out and the girl on the cellphone didn’t go pick it up). My order didn’t come with the chocolate truffle as mentioned in the menu so we asked about it and she said they ran out. So she let us choose any replacement! We got a pretty pink frosted cupcake. We also asked for more water in the teapots and she had no problems refilling them. The tables are first come first serve though so get there early if you don’t want to wait.. I think people usually stay for a long while once they’re there. I’m still craving some apricot tea.. and now I must buy my own cute little teapot. ^_^