It’s been far too long since I’ve done one of these posts, so I thought I’d jump back into this series with a post on one of my greatest culinary joys in life: sushi. Yeah, I know it’s weird that I love sushi so much, considering that I’m a non-fish eating vegetarian, but, what can I say – I can’t get enough of veggies rolled up in rice and seaweed. So here’s my guide to sushi eating downtown, and don’t worry, I asked fish eating friends for input.
Ichiro will always be my favorite sushi place in Oakland. Four years ago, when I had just started working in downtown Oakland, I went to a City Council meeting after work and I needed to find something to eat. Naively, I thought I could just walk from my office to City Hall, and that I’d certainly find places that were open for dinner. I walked around a bit and had almost given up when I saw the lights on at Ichiro. I pulled up a seat at the sushi bar, and immediately fell in love with the food and friendly atmosphere. The portions are huge and the veggies and fish are always very fresh. I quickly became a regular customer and often would arrange for all of my coworkers to order from there. I only vaguely remember it, but at some point, I became such a regular customer that they took a photo of me and put it up on their wall. I honestly cannot recommend this place enough, even though I go there a bit less now that their prices are higher than they used to be (though still reasonable). The only downside to Ichiro is that especially during lunch, the service can be slow. Also, forget about calling in a takeout order during lunch – they’ve gotten so busy that they rarely pick up the phone. But if you’d like to have a lesiurely lunch or are looking for a place that’s open for dinner, check out Ichiro. Also, especially if you drop in after work, make sure to sample their extensive sake offerings.
Once Ichiro started getting too busy to order takeout there, I decided I needed to branch out and checked out a few other Japanese restaurants in the area. Most of them were not very good, and some of them were pretty bad. But Ichi Japon came in a solid second. The food is always tasty, though their portions are not as generous as Ichiro. The staff is also nearly as friendly, and I realized the other day that most of them know me by name now. But most importantly, their takeout is quick and reliable, which is sometimes what I’m looking for. The tempura in particular is delicious, and so is the udon. Sadly, at night Ichi Japon tends to be mostly deserted, so if you’re looking for a place to have a quiet dinner, this is where you should go.
Kai’s is a bit outside of how far I’ll generally walk for lunch, and I’d probably never have gone there if dto510 hadn’t recommended it. I’ve only managed to go there once, but I was very impressed with the food. Their bento boxes are generous and tasty, and for some reason the thing that sticks out in my mind about Kai’s is their delicious green tea and the warming miso. Oh, maybe that’s because it was pouring rain the day I went there. If you’re in Old Oakland, Kai’s is worth checking out.