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California Japanese Breakfast

Japanese Breakfast at Zentoro (long) (Sacto Area)

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Japanese Breakfast at Zentoro (long) (Sacto Area)

Bryan Harrell | Sep 7, 2004 03:37 PM

We finally made it to Zentoro last Saturday for their Japanese breakfast, which is only served on Saturday from 8 to noon. There is only one Japanese breakfast available, and it is surprisingly close to typical. Included were 1. a fillet of grilled salmon that was superb and served with grated daikon radish and atsu-yaki tamago (the kind put on nigiri sushi), 2. all the Japanese pickles you would want (takuan, shibazuke, and kyo-zuke), 3. a 'kobachi' (small side dish) which was age-dashi-dofu (lightly battered deep fried tofu in a rich fish/soy sauce stock with shaved dried bonito), 4. miso soup, 5. rice, and 6. a small packet of seasoned roasted nori seaweed strips.

In Japan, this would be closer to a hotel-style Japanese breakfast as small whole fish (usually dried overnight) are more typical. What's more, age-dashi-dofu would not be served as a side dish since it's an evening food.

Nitpicks would be that I had to ask for Japanese tea (perhaps they were thinking I would order coffee?), and that there were no 'ko-ume' (small umeboshi, which are essential for any Japanese breakfast). Our server was very nice, and brought me both the tea and a small dish of over 10 ko-ume, when only two or three would have been sufficient. Also note that there was about 2-3 times the Japanese pickles than should have been, so I had to ask for a little rice to help finish them off. And the tamago (egg) should have been the less-sweet "dashi-maki" style rather than the stuff used for sushi.

Apart from that, everything was fine, though the miso soup had that characteristic "toasty" flavor (almost like genmai-cha in a way) one finds in practically all miso soup served in California, but is a flavor that is never encountered in Japan. I wonder what that is?

Note that the Japanese breakfast is one of many that they offer. My born-in-Japan daughter was looking forward to it, but when she saw the loco-moco Hawaiian breakfast on the menu, she had to try it because she'd never had it before. Her cousin opted for the pancakes and bacon. It made a great table that spanned the North Pacific.

Also -- a few days previous I had lunch at Zentoro to check it out. The assorted sashimi lunch had some superbly good fish (two kinds of tuna, plus hamachi), but seemed odd to me because 1) the soup was served before the rest of the meal, and 2) in place of Japanese pickles was this Asian cole slaw that could have used an extra day of marinating in the fridge.

Lastly -- I went over and talked to the head chef, and asked about their sake selection, and was shown several bottles that were hand-carried from Niigata, Japan and not imported into the U.S. This would be worth returning for some evening, though taking Light Rail would be advisable.

Zentoro
900 15th St. (at H, next to the Torch Club)
Sacramento CA
442-4933

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