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Tapas turn Japanese at this new Piedmont Avenue izakaya

Oakland
Chikara Ono, a plucky chef who spent eight years rolling seaweed around rice at sushi-centric Geta, has extended his reach to this tiny izakaya, where he cooks with the energy and purpose of an artisan released from an assembly line. On his broadly ranging menu, Ono follows the dictates of the genre, progressing from salads and bright, vinegary dishes like housho maki, sweet bundles of seafood in an egg-and–pickled daikon wrapper, to robust items such as stewed beef tongue and kakiage, lightly battered shreds of vegetable tempura with nuggets of fried seafood embedded in their nest. Along the way, there is yakitori for every yearning—duck breast, scallops, chicken hearts and tendons—encrusted with salt or glazed in sauce, and alcohol for each elapsing hour: beer to start, sake in the middle, shochu toward the evening’s
pie-eyed end. There is even sushi, though you’re better off indulging in the izakaya. A long-simmered soup with duck breast, napa cabbage, shimeji mushrooms, and silken tofu is delicate but deep, its nuanced flavors a high note at a restaurant that’s short on atmosphere but long on soul.

4301 Piedmont Ave. (bet. John St. and Glen Eden Ave.)
510-420-1578
$$ DW ★★


Our review policy:
To ensure that we get a typical consumer’s experience in a restaurant, our writers dine anonymously; all expenses are paid by the magazine. Reviews are pulled from our listings two years after the review date or any time personnel changes at a restaurant render a review invalid. Our admittedly imperfect star ratings are based on food quality, variety, service, ambience, and value.
Staff reviewers and contributors to our restaurant guide include John Birdsall, Susan Bryan, Stett Holbrook, Rachel Levin, Jan Newberry, Josh Sens, and Lisa Trottier.

Prices:
Average price of an entrée:
$ = $10 or less
$$ = $11–17
$$$ = $18–24
$$$$ = $25 or more

Symbols:
D = Dinner only
R = Reservation required/recommended
C = Cash only
V = Valet parking
W = Wheelchair accessible

Ratings:
★★★★ = superlative
★★★ = excellent
★★ = very good
★ = good
✩ = below average