Sunday, July 29, 2007

Kaygetsu, Menlo Park

I have been wanting to try this restaurant for a while now, but every time Jon looks at their menu online, he gets scared off by the prices. (The Kaiseki dinner is about $100/person.) So when we're craving Japanese, we usually end up at one of our usual, lower-priced favorites. (Like Naomi.)

But earlier this month, for my birthday dinner, I finally got Jon to go with me to Kaygetsu. Since it's located in a strip mall, I wasn't expecting much ambiance. But this part of the mall must've been renovated not too long ago, because it was actually quite nice. The restaurant itself is on a corner, next to an optometrist, and has about a dozen tables as well as another half-dozen or so seats at the sushi bar.

Since the dinner was a few weeks ago — and turning a year older probably is affecting my memory — I can't recall every single dish we ordered. Since seven-course meals aren't Jon's favorite, we decided to order à la carte.

The highlight of my meal was the otoro. At $12 per piece, it's steep. But that fatty tuna, taken from the belly, was melt-in-your-mouth delicious. Well worth the cost. I also tried the chawan mushi (custard with shrimp, unagi and shitake) and the tako gohan (the octopus with rice dish is one of their current season specialties). Both were tasty, but I didn't want to fill up too much. Afterall, I still had the main attraction: a whole, deep-fried sole.

As a kid, my mom used to serve up deep-fried fish all the time — so it seemed appropriate, on my birthday, to go this route. If you've spent any time reading this blog, you know that deep-fried is almost always my favorite way to prepare anything. And I really enjoyed the platter at Kaygetsu. In one bite, you were treated to tender and flaky fish.

Jon went a healthier route, opting for the hamachi teriyaki. Usually, I stay clear of teriyaki at Japanese restaurants in the U.S. because they tend to overwhelm the meat or fish in sauce. If a restaurant is working with good, quality fish, I want to taste that — and not the sauce. Thankfully, Kaygetsu does it right. Their home-made sauce is neither too sweet nor too thick. Phew.

Service here was also spot-on. As each dish is delivered to the table, the server offers an explanation of what you're about to enjoy. Despite ordering what we thought was a good amount of food, we were still in/out of there in about an hour. (We don't waste much time when we're hungry.) And the bill wasn't too bad, even with that $12 otoro. Sure, you can easily ring up a high tab here, but I realized that we can also pop in for a quick bite that won't set us back much more than the other places we frequent. So the next time we decide on Japanese for dinner, we might have to make another trip to the strip mall.

325 Sharon Park Drive
Menlo Park, CA 94025
(650) 234-1084