Kauffman Loves the Food, Not So Much the Space at Izakaya Yuzuki; Hirsh Says Lin Jia Falls Flat
The weeklies are out, and Jonathan Kauffman published his review of Izakaya Yuzuki (598 Guerrero) today, which he says the "homestyle food ... has a delicacy and detail hard to find in San Francisco." He compliments chef Takashi Saito, formerly at Ame, for the authenticity of many dishes, saying his "satsuma age ($11), spongy fish cakes, are nothing like the bland sponge many restaurants serve," and his "exquisite chawanmushi (steamed custard, $12) with a lobe of uni placed on top after cooking, is so ephemeral the custard seemed to have been captured mid-quiver." He does note that portions are small, and that if you want a little rice to fill you you need to order some $11 ultra-premium koshihikari rice that may show up overcooked. Also, he's no fan of the cursed, high-ceiling'd space, "basically a cube of air with some tables at the bottom."
But he does say the food is pure and worth checking out, despite the fact that they probably shouldn't have put "izakaya" in the name. "[It's] actually a higher-end bistro predominantly serving small plates and skewers, rather than a humble, smoky pub bustling with red-faced office workers." He adds that Yuzuki's "simmered, pickled, and fried dishes" are far superior to the grilled, more traditional izakaya fare. [SF Weekly]
Over in Oakland, Jesse Hirsch weighs in on one-year-old Lin Jia in Oakland's Lakeshore district. He says it boasts "a rangy menu, meandering through Asian countries on a path that mirrors Lam's own globe-trotting," but that virtually none of the dishes packed any of their traditional spice. He calls the Korean fried chicken, a best-seller, "pleasant if uninspired." And overall, "Lin Jia's clean, expert cookery can resemble a piano concerto that's technically proficient but soulless." [EBX]