A group of four hounds ascended on Wakano Ura, the 2nd floor Japanese restaurant that has been a Sacramento J-town fixture for well over 50 years, by some accounts. Apparently it moved from the original Sacramento Japantown, centering on the 3rd and 4th, L and M block. An elderly Japanese woman I talked to in front of the current location believes it was in the original Sacramento Japantown before WWII.
Wakano Ura is curious because it has both Chinese and Japanese food. How long it has been that way I could not find out -- the current owner James, a Chinese man, has owned it for only a few years. He believes he is at least the 5th owner. The neon sign out front, which is nicely maintained, looks to be from the 40s or early 50s and proclaims both "Chop Suey" and "Sukiyaki." Needless to say, Wakano Ura has no Web site.
During the mid-70s I was a regular customer, and one of my favorite dishes was Peanut Duck. Our group decided to order that, as well as the sign items of Chop Suey and Sukiyaki. To round out the meal, we ordered white rice and a bowl of seaweed soup, very similar to what I used to order 30 years ago, and still only $4.50.
The sukiyaki was a disaster. The beef was all wrong, thick short chewy slices instead of the long, paper-thin tender slices needed for this dish. Too much shirataki (devil's tongue noodles) and not enough onion. Also, there was no little dish of raw egg to dip the hot meat into, though there could be a legal problem with that here in the U.S.
The seaweed soup was lovely, a rich chicken broth with lots of purple nori (seaweed) sheets cut up and mixed in. It was only marred by a new addition -- a handful of frozen peas and carrot cubes.
Descriptions of the Peanut Duck and Chop Suey will be made by others in the group. It was interesting to note that although the largest letters on the sign outside say Chop Suey, it is no longer on the menu. However, the chef was kind enough to make a Chinese BBQ Pork version of it for old time's sake.
The cost of our meal came to $10 a person, which included tax and a generous tip. Yet one more reason you'll certainly feel you've slipped back in time here.
2217 10th St (between V and W)
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