The former O Chame in Berkeley has completed its transformation under acclaimed Yoshi's chef Shotaro Kamio, opening its doors as Iyasare, a restaurant specializing in the rustic Japanese flavors of Kamio's childhood. He brings seven-plus years of experience as executive chef at both Yoshi's locations in Oakland and San Francisco to the new project, his first solo enterprise outside of Japan. The name means "to be healed," and Kamio has dedicated the restaurant to family and others affected by Japan's 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
Inspired by memories of his parents' noodle shop in the northeastern countryside of Tohoku, Japan, the menu's focus is on clean, simple flavors. Seafood crudo like beet-cured ocean trout and maguro tartare are joined by classic nigiri and sashimi options, sourced both locally and from Tokyo's Tsukiji fish market. Buttermilk-fried brussels sprouts and whole grilled marinated squid accompany entrees like sea urchin fettuccine, miso-koji malt cured Kurobuta pork chop and bavette steak. (See the full menu here.) A hibachi tabletop grill serving up thinly sliced wagyu beef tongue will be open on the patio, weather permitting.
The interior revamp comes courtesy of designer Sean Gaston, who's lent a simple, modern vibe to the intimate space. With 35 seats in the dining room, 12 at the bar and 25 on the heated outdoor patio, Iyasare has a cozy indoor/outdoor feel that complements the earthy fare. As for booze, a full liquor license is on the way, but look for sake-infused cocktails in the meantime, along with a full complement of sakes and both Japanese and local craft beer selections. Iyasare is now open for dinner Wednesday-Monday, 5-9 pm.
· Shotaro Kamio opens Iyasare in Berkeley [Inside Scoop]
· Iyasare, Sho Kamio's O Chame Revamp, Nears in Berkeley [~ ESF ~]