Macha Cafe, San Francisco, CA

I am disappointed with this little cafe. Let me explain why.

Macha latte is their signature drink and it was likable. Texture was smooth and the flavor was rich. Those who like flavored coffee drinks will probably enjoy it quite a bit. I have to warn the coffee drinkers though, it is more like a milk drink than anything else.

The food was a complete disaster. The breakfast burrito was a joke. It was only marginally better than what you could get from a fast food chain. Dry wrap. Bland fillings. The chicken teriyaki salad was not that much better either. The meat was tough and dry. The salad consist of mostly lettuce and nothing else.

Perhaps it was my unlucky day and I ordered the worst items on their menu? Maybe you will have better luck with the sandwiches and pannis.

Okayama Japanese Restaurant, San Jose, CA

Diligent servers. Attentive service.

Okayama in San Jose Japantown always have a special place in my heart.

One of those days when you just wanted a decent meal at a really odd hour (late lunch? early dinner?), Okayama is a restaurant you can count on. They open 7 days a week without any ‘off’ hours between lunch and dinner. That alone deserves a merit.

Having said that, I can’t say I am in love with the food. The portion is generous. The food is prepared with care. It’s just that the quality of the fish they used for sushi and rolls are only mediocre. The saba was too lean and tuna was a little stringy. Of course, the quality is still more than reasonable for the price they charge. ¬†Just don’t expect anything fancy.

Kotetsu Ramen, Santa Clara, CA

Giving my official thumb up after a repeat visit. The heartwarming fatty broth offer instant relief to colder days. The ramen is no where near remarkable but the quality is consistent. Cha-shu, soft boiled egg, noodle, all done right. I even like their new offering of a ‘light’ version with thinner noodles and less fat. Feeling hungry? Get the all-star with everything and the kitchen sink.

Sakana Sushi, San Francisco, CA

For a sushi restaurant that serve food until midnight Sakana is more than decent. I had their dinner combination with sashimi, tempura and hamachi kama. It was a simple and well prepared meal. The hamachi kama was particularity interesting. It was perfectly moist and tender inside. Definitely one of the better ones I had that came with a economic combo dinner. Tempura could be crisper but I like the light batter and light radish sauce. Sashimi is a standard fare. I don’t find the fish quality particularly excellent. Some pieces even appeared a bit stringy.

If you are ever in the area for a late meal, can’t go wrong with Sakana.

Miyabi Sushi, San Francisco, CA

Given Miyabi’s close proximity to the super touristy Fisherman’s wharf, one can’t help to be a little wary. It took me some courage and a very hungry stomach to venture into this establishment.

The restaurant was rather quiet on a Saturday night. The huge dining room was only half full during prime dinner hour and the sushi bar was almost completely empty. My expectation was low and I was thankfully not disappointed.

Miyabi is a typical Korean owned sushi restaurant. If saucy sushi rolls suit your fancy, there are a lot of choices on the menu. Quality of the fish was average. Nigiri was passable but the rolls were actually more likable. Portion is huge. One roll could be enough as a light meal for some.

Sugarfish, Los Angeles, CA

Simple formula, fluidly executed.

Sugarfish is a no-brainer choice by for a quick sushi meal any time of the week, Sunday lunch included. Branded with the name of a celebrity chef, there is no doubt this restaurant chain devises some clever marketing gimmicks. The so called ‘trust me’ option is no real omakase but a mere set menu. That could be quickly forgiven in the name of good food with a more than reasonable price tag.

Even the deluxe ‘trust me’ features rather common fish selection but the quality is good. Sushi rice was prepared with care. Food was served as soon as it is ready and every single piece was at the right temperature. Nothing was too hot nor too cold. Sushi rice was as close to body heat as it could get. And the seaweed on the rolls? Perfectly crisp. It is not very often to get this kind of quality on table service.

The best part? You can get a very satisfying meal with no more than $40. The portion is just right. Don’t worry about having to go home hungry.

Ramen Taka, Santa Clara, CA

Finally a restaurant in South Bay that serves Hakata style ramen like the legendary Shinsengumi chain in LA. If you are the fan of those ultra thin springy noodle, this new establishment would not disappoint. The broth is more than decent, although still could be more flavorful. The noodles are well done. Toppings are just standard fare but it really wouldn’t matter too much once you have good noodle and broth.

I encourage you all to come and try out their ramen. The ambiance of the restaurant is something you need to overlook. I don’t know what to think of the half empty warehouse decor. Can’t say it is too welcoming. Given the restaurant is still fairly new, I guess I would cut them some slacks.