I use the word "simply" here cautiously, but deliberately. Simple, yes....simplistic, emphatically no! The ingredients ARE simply pure and fresh, fresh, fresh. But the levels of flavor and texture are anything but simplistic. There is a complexity achieved here with the fewest ingredients that defies logic. An example is the almond encrusted sea bass, where I tend to gravitate to when not hunkering down with a partner over the shabu-shabu. The cloak of organic shaved almonds keeps the fish's natural moisture internal, at the same time creating a lightly toasted exterior that accentuates not masks, the natural piscatorial sweetness. I emphasize that all the preparations are designed to bring the natural key flavors to the fore. If you are going to pay $29 for a piece of fresh sea bass, then let it sing on the plate--and indeed, here it does, sing. The same can be said for the unctuously flavorsome tuna tartare, a preparation now regularly found on many menus, but usually so overlain with spices, oils and other ingredients, all seemingly designed to hide the tuna!--not here, the beautifully fresh and light tuna, is the star, as well it should be. I have a particular nostalgia for their shabu-shabu, as this was a favorite from more than 35 years ago, when my parents and family would come here and revel in this marvelous one pot ambrosia which at the time was very new to US diners. If anything, over the decades, chef Kenny Fukumoto has perfected this Japanese classic to even greater heights. The beef is superlative, so rich with beef flavor as to bring tears to your eyes, and the dipping sauces are simply classic, or classically simple, as you prefer.
No pretenses, no hype, no contrived "atmosphere"....just beautifully prepared pure ingredients at their very finest! the subterranean Japanese inn-like warm wooden interiors and booths, which remain in tact from the early days, seem so natural and unaffected. I cannot think of another restaurant on the Monterey Peninsula that pays such homage to its customers by the respectful way they treat their ingredients. Worthy of 5 Stars! No, if I could, I would give them 10 stars. Brava a tutti !!
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