Since I've heard that Higuma gets ridiculously crowded at lunchtime -- it's a small restaurant with maybe a dozen tables, and five chairs at the sushi bar -- Jon and I decided to try out the place for dinner. At 5:30pm. Chances of any place being packed at that hour are usually slim.
The restaurant was about one-third full when we arrived, and the take-out service was doing brisk business. We settled into a seat by the window, but with a clear shot of the sushi bar so we could watch the chef in action. (Thankfully, the restaurant has a courtyard-ish area in front of it, so you don't have to look out on to busy El Camino Real.)
There are a few dishes that I tend to use as a measurement of how compatible a Japanese restaurant is with my palate: unadon, tempura and udon. Higuma offers all three; I went with the unagi over rice last night. Jon opted for an all-sushi dinner.
The unadon was about a B- in my grade book. I would have liked it grilled just a bit more, for more texture/crispiness on the outside. The sweet basting sauce had a nice flavor to it. But I was telling Jon that part of the problem is that I have become addicted to Gochi's unadon and find their offering to be so superior to most other places I've visited.
Jon enjoyed his various sushi items -- the fish was very fresh-- but was slightly disappointed in the spicy tuna roll. (That's his Japanese restaurant barometer.) He prefers the spicy tuna served down the street at Naomi.
I pointed out, however, that the service at Higuma is much better than Naomi. The staff at Higuma was so attentive -- checking in with us often, making sure our cup of hot tea was always filled. They were such a delight. Whereas at Naomi, we've often sat there for a while waiting and waiting for someone to stop by our table to take our order, refill a drink, etc.
I'm definitely putting Higuma on my list of places to revisit. I've still gotta try the tempura and udon here! And some of the nigiri, as I only had one bite of Jon's sushi last night.
(BTW, I don't think the restaurant is open during the weekends at all. And, in case you have trouble finding it, it's located in a white cottage with a navy awning, and is just south of Whipple Avenue.)
540 El Camino Real
Redwood City, CA