IYASARE, a Japanese restaurant located on Fourth Street in Berkeley, serves modern and delicious takes on classic Japanese cuisine. The restaurant serves mostly izakaya style dining, meaning small plates. Therefore, they suggested we order around two to three plates per person to share family style.
Since there were four of us, we were able to try a good amount of dishes off the menu especially since we ordered mostly small plates to share.
All the dishes at IYASARE not only tasted delectable but were also beautifully presented; every dish looked extremely enticing with various vibrant colors. Some of my favorite dishes of the meal were the mochi balls, smoked ocean trout, miso eggplant, and the okonomiyaki pancake. The mochi balls, sticky white rice pounded into a paste and shaped into balls, were baked in the oven until crisp while the inside remained gooey and soft. These airy rice pillows were dusted with nori, seaweed, and served with a sweet teriyaki sauce. The hickory smoked ocean trout was outstanding with delicate pieces of tender fish with slight hints of smokiness paired with creamy avocado, crunchy refreshing cucumber, bitter radishes, and aromatic cilantro. The roasted Japanese eggplant was scrumptious with a sweet miso glaze and earthy sunchoke (Jerusalem artichoke) purée and chips. Lastly, the okonomiyaki pancake was delicious and brought back childhood memories of me eating it in Japan in my mother’s hometown of Marugame. You can put all sorts of vegetables and seafood in a okonomiyaki pancake but this one had savoy cabbage, pieces of sweet tiger shrimp, and tender bay scallops topped with katsuobushi (bonito flakes) and mentaiko (pollock or cod roe) aioli. Yum!
Overall, I enjoyed all the food at IYASARE so I would rate them a 8/10. I would definitely return to IYASARE for delicious and beautiful modern Japanese food in a casual ambience.