Well I read the review from last Aug and thought I would have a go this last Sat night. I have been to most of the restaurants in Japantown SJ but YASUs food is in a class by itself. YASU is located at 211 E. Jackson inbetween 5th and 6th (on the north side of Jackson, across and west of Dobashi market).
According to the back of the food menu, Brett Yasukawa (who is the chef and owner) worked for Wolfgang Puck, Spagos and for Nobu Matsuhisa in Las Vegas and NYC. This caliber of cooking shows in his presentation and flavors. Its definitely not your typical J-town restaurant with sushi and miso soup, which is fine because there are many other places in Japantown that are great for that sort of thing. What I did find was a restaurant that you would expect to find in SF or Palo Alto.
Its different because the plates are served family style so you share the food its great cause you can try a variety of things this way. When he came to the table to talk to us, he said that his food is based in Japanese tradition, but with a modern twist or like Brett says, its the way I cook. Its a great date or even birthday party venue because the atmosphere is subdued, but a lot of fun also. The people that work there are friendly and really know the menu.
The food is fresh and not pretentious and the sauces are to die for. I caught myself asking for rice so I could sop up all the sauce on our dishes. I was never really excited by tofu, but I caught myself hogging the portion that was served. Its from San Jose tofu down the street and its served with black and tan sesame sauces. First time Ive had healthy food taste this good! Prices were really reasonable also. They ranged from $7 to $18 a dish which is pretty amazing considering its a meal that would easily run $26 to $38 a plate anywhere else. We ordered the mix green salad with smoked salmon and a honey jalapeno vinaigrette which was nice and light and slightly sweet. We also had the sautéed duck breast with spinach in a ginger/miso sauce with spicy eggplant that was just amazing. The grilled salmon with the dashi broth was a definite highlight for us. Perfectly cooked and very satisfying. Cant wait to go back and try some more!! He says his menu will change depending on what is fresh and looks good. He doesnt want to limit himself with a set menu.
Oh and Yasus has an incredible sake listing. He said there are quite a few that cant be found easily. We werent sure which to choose so our server suggested the sake taster ($12) that included the Green Ridge, Tenth Degree and Demon Slayer. The Demon Slayer was so good that we had a carafe! When we asked why only serve cold sakes they told us that they only serve high end sakes and that heating them would destroy the flavor kind of like boiling a great champagne!
To conclude, we thought food was wonderful, service great and we will be back with some friends to try some of the other dishes soon. Hope this helps.
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