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Inside Joshu-ya Brasserie, Now Open in Berkeley

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[Photos: Christopher Hwang]

Opened more than 30 years ago, Berkeley institution Joshu-ya has won over generations of campus crowds with sake bomb sets, massive rolls and the added touch of complimentary green tea ice cream with every meal. But times are a-changing. Today Joshu-ya reopens as Joshu-ya Brasserie with 27-year-old chef/owner Jason Kwon giving time-warped Berkeley a new modern Japanese menu with a seasonal, sustainable, local slant. Because amazingly that never seems to get old.

Kwon, who previously founded a sustainable catering company in D.C called Eat Savory, says he's going for the "wow factor" now. He tossed the carpet, vinyl tablecloths, Japanese tchotchkes and dilapidated sushi boat sign of yore, making room for minimalist bamboo accents, landscape art by local gal Lisa Feather, a refreshed fenced-in garden patio and bistro umbrellas. There will still be sushi, but now they've got an omakase option and sourcing has been notched up. So the uni comes from Santa Barbara, for example. And of course, there are new izakaya-style items, like braised short rib sukiyaki with Asian pear and truffle-crème fraiche. All told, it's clear Kwon's put a lot of effort in here, but that doesn't mean starving students are going to stop craving super crunchy rolls the size of a young tree sapling. Naturally, your early thoughts will be much appreciated in the tip jar.

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