Had dinner at Kappa last night in Japantown, after salivating at the wonderful reviews from a few months ago.
A huge round of applause, and thanks for those who had written the initial reviews because it is well worth the hype and recommendation!
One of the highlights include the nice laid back and low key atmosphere. The restaurant is a lot smaller than what it appears to be from their website. My wife and I were the only two diners last night (we were there over an hour starting at 6 ish right when they had opened).
Rumiko was a delight and was very helpful in recommending dishes and translating some of the menu items on the wall. Tell her what category you are interested in and she can check with availability on the wall or ask her husband (the chef).
On with what we ordered:
1) Tamba Kuro-mame - This is a special black bean from Japan (supposedly the bean is named after a region, Tamba). Very large sized and apparently cooked over 2 days until the right texture is obtained. Then they are soaked in a mix of sake and presumably sugar (I was able to taste box sake and something really sweet). A wonderful appetizer/dessert/palate cleanser which had a delicate aftertaste. Rumiko was saying that this is a high end dish in Japan, typically served during special occassions (like New Year's). We liked the black beans so much we ordered two!
2) Maguro sashimi - 5 nice pieces of good aka maguro. I didn't try anything else, but the maguro wasn't as good if you went to the better sushi-ya's in the bay area (Ino, Toshi's, Sakae's, Sawa's etc).
3) Thinly sliced yamaimo. I was expecting some sort of cooked yam but to our surprise it came out in delicate thin slices, served raw with some shredded nori on top. Rumiko recommended dipping some soy sauce with some of the fresh wasabi on the side. Tasted wonderful though it was a bit slimey on the side (that is how the raw yamaimo is...probably an aquired taste)
4) Grilled chicken meatballs - 3 skewers, each with two meatballs. Very flavorful and I think there is more than just chicken in it! Served with a light brown sauce that complements the dish.
5) Grilled "black pork" - yakiniku style thinly sliced pork. VERY delicious, juicy, and tasty. Lots of finely chopped green onion (or chive...arguable as it was very thin) and some sesame seed.
6) An exotic mushroom (grilled) that I believe came from China (popular in Japan). I forgot the name...Satsu something? Anyway it was quite a treat (but very expensive for 4 pieces...$20 for this dish alone!) It was dirty white looking but more so light brown after being cooked.
7) A simmered vegetable dish (greens) in broth with tofu skin and some spices.
8) Miso soup - red miso with a touch of green onion and what appeared to be cilantro stems.
9) A very big piece of mentaiko onigiri, served with finely chopped greens (stems) and one yellow pickle.
I believe that was it. Everything was amazing, service was excellent (the chef came out and personally bowed to thank us when we left, and Rumiko walked us out of the door to greet us farewell), and a good feeling overall (until the bill came which spoiled it a wee bit). $110 after tips for two people. Definitely way better than Lakuni at San Mateo, but more expensive. You do get what you pay for though!