Japan Center Kintetsu Building
1737 Post Street
San Francisco, CA
We spent the day in San Francisco with Warren's brother and his family and our first stop was Japan Town. It was the monkeys' (Satchel, 8, and Jiro, 6) and my first visit and we were really excited. There were tons of restaurants to choose from, but we easily decided on Mifune since it was one of the places that Warren's mom (who is Japanese) liked. It's been open for ninety years (!!) and is known for its homemade noodles.
As you can see, it is common for the restaurants to display plastic versions of their most popular dishes in the window. Warren says there is a whole industry devoted to creating plastic food!
The restaurant was very busy and many Japanese people were dining there--two very good signs. We were seated near the restrooms which we agreed Oba (Warren's mom) would never stand for, but since she wasn't with us and we were starved, we didn't complain.
The only complaining going on was Satchel complaining that Jiro was annoying. He was very much interested in spending every moment with his cousin, Nini, and didn't want anyone, especially his little brother, interfering. I was finally able to convince Jiro to sit by me and then offered him my notebook to color in and stay busy. He did not like not having his big brother's full attention.
Our waitress brought us all (the adults and teen anyway) a cup of green tea free of charge. (Oba always said this is the sign of a REAL Japanese restaurant.)
We had pretty much figured out what we wanted to eat by looking at the plastic food, but we did some price comparisons between the lunch specials and the kids' meals.
Satchel wanted soba and unagi donburi (eel on rice) from the lunch special. It was a huge serving.
Jiro got the bullet train kids' meal which came in a plastic bullet train car. I thought it was also a really good portion size. It included soba and shrimp and vegetable tempura (including seaweed tempura).
The soba was extra good. You could tell it was made fresh.
Warren had a really hard time deciding what to get. "There's so much I want to eat!" he said. He eventually decided on the Nabeyaki udon: A sort of udon hot-pot, with seafood and vegetables cooked in a nabe, or metal pot. It had tempura shrimp with mushrooms and an egg cracked on top.
I knew right away what I wanted--the tuna and avocado don. It's similar to the Tekka Ju I like to sometimes get at Tsunami, but it was about three times as big and included avocado and seaweed. It was dressed with sriracha and kewpie, two of my favorite Japanese condiments. The rice was sushi rice--nice and sweet. And there was definitely some wasabi mixed in. It was awesome! My dish also came with a side salad and some miso soup. The miso soup was also very fresh and homemade, definitely not from a mix. It contained a lot of veggies and it was so rich it reminded me of a seafood bisque.
All of the entrees came with tsukemono, which is commonly pickled cabbage. Another sign of authenticity.
Our only snafu at the meal was the omission of Neal and Edith's lunches. They both ordered tempura as did their oldest daughter, Ali, but instead of hearing "three" tempuras, our (Japanese speaking) waitress only heard "one." Now I've never been a waitress, but I think I would notice if I had eight people at the table and only six items written on my list. Once we alerted her to the problem she corrected it pretty quickly. However there was no apology or discount or anything special done.
Once we all had food and started eating, we didn't stop until it was gone. It was exceptional. Go there! (Jiro and I made a bathroom visit and it was one of the tiniest I've ever seen, so don't plan on changing a diaper!)