Please report - Kemuri in RWC?

Very interested in a report on Kemuri Japanese Baru. I should be the one reporting, but just haven’t made it over…

Right next to City Pub near ECR on Broadway — across from Stadt — down from iDumpling.

I’ve been twice - a week or two after they opened and then maybe three weeks ago. Along with vesta and martins west it’s among the my rwc favorites in that price range. It’s a sort of fusion-y izakaya place.

Drinks: both times I’ve enjoyed Japanese microbrews (altho I confess to not knowing how micro they are - just not Sapporo or Asahi). My boyfriend tried different sochus - oddly they don’t have a flight of them though I think they do for sakes. Whiskey menu is interesting but I haven’t tried any.

Food: for apps we’ve tried the pickles, deviled eggs, and smoked edamame. All are terrific and I would recommend. We’ve also gotten the fried tofu and caprese (bf is a vegetarian) while I’ve had the smoked sashimi. I didn’t like the caprese (weird having it with cream cheese) altho bf enjoyed it. Sashimi was v. good, but I think it was the same selection both times. The food is very well made. Almost everything is smoked yet dishes are balanced and not overwhelmingly smokey.

Service: overall fine enough. Not hovering, but pretty easy to get attention when you want it.

In sum, I think it’s a solid choice. I wouldn’t mind a bit more variety in menu as far as non-meat dishes go as it really is a sharing plates sort of place. I’d recommend looking at the menu in advance particularly if you don’t like fusion-type places. If you go, I hope you report back on your experience.

Holy Nuts, this place is great. It’s in a cursed location, it’s on the wrong side of town, it probably won’t succeed, so get over there before it fails.

The smoked edamame came without us asking, and it’s really interesting. You can smell the smoke, unclear if you can taste it. That’s the theme of the restaurant, smoke, and many dishes are served with some coals underneath.

We got a smoked chicken thigh special, served over the embers ( not hot ) in a cast iron skillet. The chicken was fatty and tasty, and there was a little bit of bananna leaf with some kind of yuzu paste. Seriously good, I could eat a ton of that, forever. GF’s favorite dish.

Karaage was good. Peculiarly, even though this is a common dish, I’ve never had it. The skin was extra crispy, the inside very tender and juicy. In the better rank of fried chicken, better than the KFC I’ve had.

Lots of smoked wings on the menu, if you like wings.

Got the smoked pickles. Rather like Martin’s West “pot of pickles”, but every veg charred lightly and pickled.

Worried about too much of the carbon / smoke taste? My GF is very sensitive, hates that bitter taste, but all the smoked dishes are very sensitively cooked.

Sake collection is very good, at least, I picked one semi-randomly and loved it. The beers in question are fairly well known (hitachino) and a few good west coast beers (there was a meyer lemon session beer that I hadn’t seen before, a lost coast half-saison… good stuff).

Several japanese rock-star types who had reserved and were given the golden treatment. The folks behind the bar and behind the grill were mostly japanese with some local help.

Will be great on a warm day. High ceilings, big open doors to the front, outdoor seating.

I put it behind Vesta and slightly ahead of ( the current ) martin’s west.

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Awesome all the way. I hope this place thrives. It’s a perfect marriage between Izakaya and Tapas.

They also have an excellent selection of Japanese whisky, a bit hard to find in the Peninsula.

Happy hour menu with lots of healthy selections:

Umami edamame rock

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The crispy cheese is fun. It looks like a nicely sliced french loaf, crisp, but it’s cheese. I was expecting more “taste” but it’s still great.

Another visit, still very happy.

The smoked manhattan is exceptional. There’s a pile of charcoal on the bar, the bartender hits it with a torch and gets it going, he puts the up glass over it, letting the smoke swirl. Great theater. While it’s doing that, he mixes a fairly standard manhattan with japanese whiskey ( would prefer more rye bite ). Then puts the smoked glass and the manhattan together.

The specials list is still the place to be. We had the house smoked chicken thighs, amazing, some kind of beef stew with a bit of curry and a bit of yuzu, and a mushroom medley with salmon. All very good.

The menu bears exploring. This place has certainly not gone through any “dumbing down” and has a broad menu of interesting items. I wish the decor was a little nicer, it’s all high white box, but with food this good and a seat at the bar…

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Finally made it to Kemuri. Saturday evening early dinner. Not crowded yet. Sat outside.
Dishes, in rough order of preference:

Yaki Oni Benedict- as arrived, and after the egg was pierced. Runny egg sat on top of rice cooked in the earthenware, with a layer of charred and crispy rice at the bottom. The rice came with a sauce that was a bit similar to a Japanese salad dressing/ tartar sauce. Mixed with the egg yolk, its yummy. Came with a piece of bacon. At $7, this ap was a great value.

Garlic pizza: on a crisp wonton skin with melted mozarella and a bunch of scallion and bonito flakes. Picture was a bit blurry but there were four of them. Wonton skin was very thin and light.

Good quality free range chicken grilled. Juicy and done just right and they added some of their spice blend on the skin.

Oxtail udon, non spicy option. Oxtail broth was good. Though I think the dish was little plain for the price.

Sausage was fine, though it didn’t feel particularly japanese. Came with mustard and greens.

The food was its slightly on the salty side. Overall its an enjoyable meal. Its great to have an interesting fusion Japanese option in RWC. Though it may be a little too interesting for the location, given that City Pub next door does more business. Would love to go back and try more of the menu.

“Kemuri” apparently means “smoked” which explains its prevalence on the menu. Their focus on a technique reminds me a bit of Yuzuki in SF, which specializes in the use of koji

The stoner-food sameness, and long lines, at Menlo Park Off the grid reminded me that I needed to return to the playful options at Kemuri.

Garlic pizza: Mozzarella sandwiched between two fried wontons, then baked with more cheese on top. Japanese mayo, scallions, and bonito toppings. Flattening out the wontons kept them from retaining too much oil. Great combo of cheese, seafood, and a crisp shell… Crab Rangoon, your days are numbered.

I was skeptical of the “Smoked sashimi”, and wound up loving it. The exposure to smoke means it’s technically not fully raw, but the texture wasn’t compromised and the light tinge of smoke complemented the flavors of the fish. The side of soy sauce (they smoke, but don’t make, the soy sauce) is good in small doses and I didn’t see the need to add wasabi to any bite.


How does one smoke a liquid? Put in a container with smoke coming up from underneath, just like a slab of meat?

Looks like you bubble smoke through the liquid. You can use a “smoking gun” or jerry rig something yourself.

The smoked sushi is surprisingly good. It sounds like a gimmick but it’s like having a light teasing sauce, which a good sushi chef might consider for some fish.

On Friday night, most tables were taken or reserved, but the bar and a high table at the window were mostly open.

I ordered and liked the “pizza” but they were a bit stingy with the bonito: when it was present in a bite, that was an excellent bite, when it wasn’t present, merely good. The disposable wet wipe came in handy.

I couldn’t find the sashimi on the menu, not realizing it is listed under seasonal items toward the end, so I had the “poke” which must have been made from the trimmings (same thin red onions and sprouts). Unevenly shaped bits of salmon, white tuna, hamachi, and I think mackerel mingled in a sesame dressing with lettuce leaves and crisp wonton skins on the side. I thought the menu said “spicy” but I found the dressing very mild and a touch too sweet.

It’s certainly intriguing enough to try with a group of sashimi lovers.

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Fish market.
Credit: Ramesh SA, Flickr