Dining at Ippuku instantly transports you to Japan with its atmosphere and comforting food.
I’ve been trying to come here for quite some time now but it’s always packed due to its proximity to University of California, Berkeley. Ippuku is an izakaya restaurant, basically Japanese tapas, serving all kinds of delicious treats from tempura, robatayaki, mochi, ramen, udon, and much more. Since it’s small portions, you can order numerous items off the menu to share.
We started off with a complimentary snack, cool crunchy cabbage served with a creamy mayonnaise sauce.
The boiled spinach was vibrant with a slight crunchy texture served with a slightly sweet silky black sesame dressing. A really delicious vegetable dish.
The chicken gyoza were pretty tasty with a thin dumpling wrapper and crispy bottom.
The Dungeness crab croquettes were perfectly fried with a moist creamy interior served with razor thin sliced cabbage.
The shrimp and vegetable kakiage, a mixed version of tempura, was crispy and dusted with a little matcha powder for seasoning.
At Ippuku, they have a large list of skewered items consisting of various chicken parts and some vegetable items. We tried four types of chicken skewers: chicken thigh and scallion (my favorite because the meat was charred but moist), chicken skin (crunchy and flavorful especially with freshly squeezed lemon juice), chicken breast with shiso, umeboshi, and nori (aromatic from the shiso and sour from the pickled plum), and chicken liver (not pictured). Other skewered items were the bacon wrapped mochi (meaty salty bacon wrapped around gooey mochi, so good) and bacon wrapped asparagus.
The beef tataki, seared beef tenderloin, was thinly sliced and dressed with refreshing citrusy ponzu sauce.
The last dish we tried was yaki onigiri, a childhood favorite, which were good but my mom can make better.
The meal ended with sake lees gelato, a refreshing slightly tart gelato with gogi berries. Different but a nice way to finish the dinner.
Overall, I was really satisfied at Ippuku from the food, service, and atmosphere so my rating is a 8/10.