—by Hugh Donagher, III
Two Japanese cultural concepts come together at downtown’s new Bushido Izakaya, which opened about seven months ago. In Japan, an izakaya is a small neighborhood place to sit, eat and drink. In the States, it has come to be mean casual Japanese small plate pubs. Bushido, of course, is the “way of the warrior,” a code of conduct observed by the samurai.
Owner Steven Yen grew up in Los Altos and graduated from SJSU and the San Francisco Culinary Academy. His culinary training includes internships at Chef Chu’s and Michael Mina’s Arcadia in San Jose as well as extensive travel in Japan learning the art of Japanese cooking. He has returned to Mountain View with the hopes of showing the community that Japanese cooking is more than just sushi rolls and tempura.
Executive Chef Steve Futagaki brings his intensive training in Japanese cuisine and more than twenty-five years of experience to the kitchen at Bushido. Futagaki’s résumé includes stints at Wolfgang Puck’s Chinois in Las Vegas, Sushi Kuni in Cupertino and Furugato in San José. Sous Chef Masaki Nawachi and Pastry Chef and General Manager Hien Tran bring their own impeccable credentials to the table as well.
Bushido Izakaya strives to use the freshest ingredients possible in its menu offerings, while promoting seasonal flavors that match the changing seasonal décor. At lunch, you’ll find bento boxes featuring traditional specialties, including a daily special. At $11.95, it’s a great value for lunch and is served quickly. Other lunch choices include various rice and noodle dishes and Bushido’s popular okonomiyaki, a Japanese pancake topped with special sauce and your choice of several vegetables or meats.
The dinner menu is more extensive, featuring House Specials (including the aformentioned okonomiyaki), Vegetables, Noodles & Rice, Cooked Meat & Fish, Fried dishes, Yakitori, Nabemono, Sashimi and Salads. Pastry Chef Tran is often on hand to serve her dessert creations.
Brian and I have dined at Bushido many times and it has quickly become one of our go-to downtown dining spots. Favorite menu items include the mochi and cheese, wrapped in and eggroll skin, fried and served with green tea salt. Add asparagus or asparagus and bacon if you prefer. The miso eggplant grilled and served with miso sauce is another favorite, as is the chicken karaage (Rocky Jr free range chicken). The vegetable tempura at Bushido is amazingly light and tasty. We’ve even had parsley tempura on our plate!
Bushido’s kitchen has a cold smoker that allows them to smoke their own BBQ ribs, pork belly, chicken wings, beef tongue and chicken teriyaki. The smoked pork belly is braised and served in butter lettuce cups with a cucumber mayo mustard sauce.
Aside from an extensive sake list, Bushido also boasts a full bar offering interesting specialty cocktails such as Hien’s Cherry Lemonade (Jim Beam, red stag, lemon, yuzu and simple syrup), Masaki’s Sangria (made with sake), Shiso Anna (bartender Anna’s version of a mojito), and Bushido’s take on the margarita, the “Sake-rita”.
Good food, fun cocktails, friendly and inviting staff. Bushido is defintely worth checking out!