The Exquisite Harmony of Kaiseki

Refined and perfectly balanced, a kaiseki meal at Wakuriya puts a contemporary spin on this multi-course Japanese dining experience, says burumun.

"Two of us had dinner at Wakuriya in late September, and though I did not take any photos, the meal is etched in my memory, too," adds pilinut. "In terms of quality of ingredients, skill, and creativity, the kitchen (all two of them) is at least on par with Manresa."

"All two of them" means the couple who run the place, Katsuhiro and Mayumi Yamasaki. The pair came up through the restaurant business in Kyoto, including a stint at the longtime kaiseki restaurant Kitcho. They opened Wakuriya in 2008.

The appetizer course that kicks off the full nine-course meal sums up the approach: something fried (fig tempura), something broiled (unagi and avocado roll), and a dashi-based dish (in this case, eggplant). That fig tempura also showed off the menu's seasonality.

"The quality of the fish is on par with what you would expect at a highly regarded sushi restaurant," burumun says, and you get excellent sashimi as well as cooked dishes likes moist, delicate steamed butterfish coated in soft yuba, or tofu skin. A deep-fried cake of scallop, corn, and tofu has a light, crisp tempura coating. Then an inventive palate cleanser breaks up the meal: watermelon gelée with black sesame.

Grilled tai snapper with pickled plum and shiso basil over rice in dashi broth was "perhaps was my most memorable dish that night," burumun says. The "complex, smoky" dashi is outstanding, agrees pilinut.

A simple-seeming dessert of housemade barley tea-flavored mochi with green tea ice cream is a delicious mash-up of contrasting textures (chewy/melty) and the distinctive flavors of barley tea and an Okinawa black sugar sauce.

The nine-course experience is $85; a six-course version is $70. There's an extensive sake selection.

Wakuriya [Peninsula]
115 De Anza Boulevard, San Mateo

Discuss: Wakuriya (San Mateo): An Exquisite Kaiseki Journey [Review+pics]

See more articles
Share this article: