I was inspired by Patricia Unterman's review in the SF Examiner (compared it to Slanted Door), so I tried dinner at Namu tonight. The place was enjoying an increase in business due to the review (it just came out), but the service was still very pleasant and mostly on top of things. The room was crowded, but the noise level was still low enough for us to pretty easily hear one another talk.
We started by ordering dragonwell green tea, 1999 pu-ehr, and a soju mixed drink ("blue people"). The teas were served in cast iron tea pots with removable baskets of loose tea. Each of us enjoyed our drink selection.
We shared starters. The best was the shitaki mushroom dumplings which were out of this world. The bits of shitaki mushroom were very good, and the broth was light but incredibly flavorful. That was followed by the vegetable tempura; which was light (not at all oily), but did not prove to be a real standout. The nissei caesar had a lighter, brighter, more lemony dressing than your traditional caesar, but was quite nice, with small bits of very crisp lettuce.
For an "entree" I ordered the burger based on the waitress' recommendation; which was quite nice with good quality beef and fabulous ultra-skinny fries. The burger included slices of daikon radish, which seemed odd, but the flavor was completely overwhelmed by the rest of the burger. The other two folks ordered the skewered chicken yakitori, served with shimchimi spice mix, and seemed to enjoy it.
To finish, we ordered the special dessert - a creme brulee served with Japanese plum cookies. Absolutely wonderful - the salt from the cookies went very well with the sweetness of the brulee. The chocolate brioche was also nice, but not outstanding.
All in all, a very nice meal (totaled $105 for 3). It's nice to have this in the neighborhood, and we'll definitely be back for more.