Izakaya Rintaro

Since there’s no new Just Because! this week, I’ll just quickly recap what I did instead on Friday. I’m not much of a food critic, and I’m an even worse photographer, so pardon the terrible pictures.

Here’s a can of Suiyoubi no Neko, a Japanese take on Belgian-style white ale. It had a very light taste. Slightly sweet with some hints of banana and citrus. It was fine. Not great, not terrible. I’m not much of a beer drinker, but I usually order it with greasy or rich food. Not only does the astringency cuts through the fat, it’s supposed to make mouth water. It’s why some places will start off a meal with an aperitif. Or, y’know, the “complimentary” glass of champagne on the house.

My friend had a matcha soju cocktail. I didn’t have a taste, and it really looked like spinach juice or something similar. She said she liked it, though.

The first dish to make it to the table was the yosedofu, house-made silken tofu with Meiji soy milk, scallion, ginger, katsuobushi and shoyu (picture at the top of the post). I could’ve used more scallion, because I just love everything in the onion family. But the tofu itself was great. Oddly refreshing with just enough earthiness from the scallions. I could enjoy it without any of the other toppings.

Next came the gyozas, ground pork with chicken food jelly and “wings”. Odd presentation, but I guess it was neat to crack the crispy batter. The gyozas themselves were bigger than average, and again, I enjoyed the gyoza by itself. It’s a gyoza, so you all know what one tastes like. Cleaner flavors than usual, but that’s about it. It came with chili oil for dipping (in the upper right corner), but that’s a misnomer. There was nothing chili about it. Rather, it’s just your average vinegar-y sauce.

The yakitori arrived in quick succession. These were the tsukune, Japanese chicken meatballs. This was probably the only disappointing taste of food on the night. It wasn’t bad, but it was slightly bland. Practically everything I ordered was packed with umami flavor except for these meatballs.

A pair of chicken thighs and onions. What can I say? They were good chicken thighs and onions.

The grilled king trumpet mushrooms were the biggest surprise of the night. Full of umami flavor, and the chewy, juicy texture actually reminded me of a fatty piece of meat. Unlike your typical fatty piece of meat, however, nothing sticks to the palate here.

My friend had cold soba noodles that came with a cup of walnut sauce for dipping. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of this dish. She thought the walnut sauce was great, but the noodles themselves weren’t much to talk about. She waited probably around 40 minutes for the noodles too.

The night was capped off with a pair of dessert dishes.

My favorite was the cheesecake with apple compote. Not as sweet as your average cheesecake. Just light and creamy. I’m not a dessert guy, so this was a nice substitute for a cheese course (which you wouldn’t find at a typical Japanese restaurant anyway).

The other dessert dish was the green tea panna cotta, hochija syrup and almond cookies. Like the cheesecake, the panna cotta was not cloyingly sweet. In fact, the flavor and texture reminded me of the sweet tofu pudding I used to get all the time at Asian supermarkets. A small bit of nostalgia, which is always a nice note to hit. If you really wanted a sweet dessert, you could use all of the hochija syrup. I think we ended up only using a third of what we got, though.

All in all, I enjoyed my time at Izakaya Rintaro. The damage was a bit high at about $60 a person, but that’s San Francisco for you. The desserts ended up being the best part of the whole dinner, but if I had to pick one of the savory courses, the yosedofu was the best.

And yeah, if you only visit this blog for anime-related updates, sorry again for the shitpost and the shitty pictures. Over time, maybe I’ll improve on this front. Or maybe not. I’ll keep doing this whenever I need to fill a gap in the updating schedule. Should I only write about Japanese restaurants though? Hmm…

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