Iyasare (Berkeley) is STUNNING!

No longer new (it opened in Oct. 2014?), this restaurant is continuing to fire on all cylinders!

DISCLAIMER: I have known Chef Shotaro Kamio for several years, as our daughters went to school together. Feel free to take whatever grains of salt you deem appropriate in reading this post.

This is one of my 2-3 favorite restaurants in the East Bay Area, and – though I’ve never formally made any sort of list – I’d say it’s in my Top Ten in the (greater) SF Bay Area. On Friday evening, my wife and I joined some friends for a dinner (birthday) party for 8, in which we had previously asked the restaurant to simply create a menu (omakase) for us. The result was my best meal of the year so far!¹

ALSO, I should point out that – effective September 24th – Iyasare now has a full liquor license.

¹ Though when I told the chef this, in typical modest fashion, Chef Sho thanked me but cautioned there were still four months left in 2015 . . .

So why is it good? I know you like it, but can you describe it a little bit more?

My 2cents after one visit: The food there is very japanese (and not sushi). The tastes are refined, not overly — anything. Balance in all things. Noodle quality is good. Interesting combinations of taste that usually work together very well. Great atmosphere, partially inherited from O Chame, which had similar atmosphere (but different food). In a word, I’d say refined. And - eat from the small plates list. Getting a full entree at a place like Iyasare is just not what they do best.

Would be on my usual rotation list if I lived in the east bay.

I am a huge fan of Iyasare too, I’ve been for both lunch and dinner numerous times. Can you tell us more about the dishes for your omakase?

Some of my favorite dishes are

Sashimi salad (lunch)
Ramen (lunch)
Uni risotto
Ocean umami
Kakiage tempura

I actually do like their main courses, but we usually only order one main dish between the two of us.

It’s a bit difficult to name the dishes we had, as we never saw a menu – the one (standard) “signature dish” we had was their Beet-cured Ocean Trout, as delicious as it was beautiful. There were approximately ten courses in all, and never a written menu to be seen . . . There was a delicious “gazpacho” made (IIFC) with puréed edamame (?), shiso leaf, shiso pepper, melon, and spot prawn, Superbly fresh, flavorful maguro with fresh (never dehydrated) Monterey Bay seaweed, and wasabi snow. The most tender, delicate, and flavorful beef tongue that was almost foie gras-like in its richness. Whole red snapper, filleted and deboned, with crispy skin. Then, perfectly done slices of medium-rare steak pairs with a crispy duck breast. Some brilliant wines, a couple of bottles of superb sake . . . . Dessert was a green matcha cake with a touch of dill and a flourless chocolate cake with housemade marshmallow.

(Keep in mind that we were celebrating, rather than taking notes . . . )

Not to be argumentative, but that “special occasion” was the only meal you had there? That’s not exactly fair.

I do like the place, as I said, but nothing the time I went, from the standard menu, was quite as inventive as what you’re describing.

I can see where you may have misinterpreted what I wrote, so let me be clear: my wife and I eat at Iyasare probably once a month, and we have since it first opened. And we frequently find dishes as inventive and delicious as what we had on Friday.

In my experience, there are always some dishes on the menu as inventive as I described above – the various nightly specials, for example, which Sho often posts pictures of online in the afternoon – and I do apologize for the lack of specific descriptions; I had no reason to write anything down, since I wasn’t going to post this on CH, and this site was unknown to me at the time.

The beef tongue I described above was this:
"SENDAI STYLE GYUTAN grilled sashimi grade beef tongue / house fermented pickles / spicy miso "

This was one-half of the dessert, “Tonight Osusume Dish: ‘Midori’ matcha tea cake, kinako crumble, sweet miso cream, dill honey.” (Iyasare posted the photo on their Facebook page.)

This is a picture of the Beet-cued ocean trout, also from the restaurant’s Facebook page.

Personally, I find their cuisine to be very inventive and delicious, but to each his own . . .

hooray for the news re full liquor license. I love that resto – but for me it’s only on special occasions…