Monday, January 16, 2006

Hotaru, San Mateo

hotaruSince I had the day off today and Jon did not, we decided to meet up for lunch at one of my favorite restaurants: Hotaru. It's a no-frills Japanese eatery, where the focus is on good service and great food.

We discovered this place about three years ago, when Jon started working in San Mateo. The restaurant, located downtown, is just a short drive from his office. But regardless of whether you go at lunch or dinner, you want to go early to avoid the rush. Because, boy, does this place get crowded. (Today, for example, the restaurant opened for lunch at 11:30am; by noon, the 50 or so seats in the main dining space were already filled.)

I almost always get one of these two dishes: Tempura Udon or Curry Udon. It's not that often that I can find the latter on a menu, so I have a hard time passing it up whenever we eat at Hotaru. I also order a couple of sushi items (usually hamachi and unagi). Jon orders only sushi here -- opting for the spicy tuna and several veggie rolls (avocado, cucumber). Some days, we splurge and get the Dragon Roll: shrimp tempura, unagi, avocado, cucumber. Yummm. (They really do tempura right here.)

Be sure to look at the specials listed in the back of the restaurant. Yes, there are some misspellings on the menu; but this place is so tasty, even I can get over that.

BONUS: There's an Ichiban Kan -- sort of a Japanese dollar store -- located just half a block from Hotaru. It's no 100 Yen store, but Ichiban Kan usually stocks a good selection of Japanese candies and knick-knacks.

33 E. Third Avenue
San Mateo, CA
(650) 343-1152