Izakaya Mai – San Mateo, CA

What a gong show (not the restaurant but how I got there). I was suppose to meet SK & A at 6.45 pm for dinner but ended up on the wrong train and had to stop in Milbrae AND wait 45 mins for the next train to take me back 2 stops!

I did get there at 7 (good thing i left an hour earlier to stroll the neighbourhood). Luckily, we only had to wait about ten minutes and got seats at the bar, by the time we left at about 8 there was a line out the door!

The interior and overall ambiance of the restaurant is VERY authentic japanese. We sat a the sushi bar and a OLD japanese gentleman was behind the counter (to me, that is usually a good sign). :)

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Menu consisted of everything from rice bowls, noodles, sushi, sashimi, grilled & fried appetiser plates AND a long list of japanese alcoholic beverages.

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We ordered the:

Unagi Kabayaki – $8.50

I was pleasantly surprised by this dish – I am so used to unagi prepared in such a way that it is quite dry, causing the fish to feel very “bony”. This was very moist with the right amount of “fat” along the skin – pretty darn good.

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Miso Cod – $6.75

This place prepares their dishes with such diligence. This fish again was prepared perfectly – I know cod is a hard fish to over-cook or screw up because of the high fat content but this is still very good. It borderline with perfectly done n a teeny bit under – making it just right as it sat on the counter.

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Short Rib Steak – $5.95

Beef ribs were just beef ribs. Nothing exciting, a little overdone but ok.

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Beef tongue  (Gyutan)- $6.75

I never had beef tongue before so I wanted to try this. Another simple dish, and it was not hard or chewy. Tasted just like beef w a little “cartilage” crunch.

I expected a few more since it was so thinly sliced and cost over $6.

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Oyako Don – $9.75

I was surprised at how much I liked this dish – I usually avoid dishes that can be prepared at home easily but A ordered this and it was a good portion. A perfect one bowl meal for one person but we shared it and there was lots to go around.

The egg was somehow not overcooked and very fluffy and rice was coated w a sauce that was light and not too sweet or salty.

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Pork and Eggplant miso (Buta Nasumiso)-$6.50

Least favourite dish of the night. I wanted to try eggplant miso but saw chicken & eggplant w miso. It was kinda overly greasy and some parts salty and other parts kinda tasteless. Oh well, can’t win them all~

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Total damage – I don’t really know because SK foot the bill (thanks SK!) but from the prices, estimate at about $50 (after tax, before tip) for 3 of us~

Personal rating – 3.5 out of 5 (Very good)

Everything was definitely very well prepared and typical prices for a izakaya place. Nothing very inventive but everything we had tasted way above average.

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Izakaya Mai

212 2nd Ave
San Mateo, CA 94401

(650) 347-2511

Izakaya Mai Japanese Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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