Little Kiraku on Telegraph

    Not so long ago, I got chuckled at for not having tried every single restaurant in my vicinity. There are excuses I could make, but the bitter truth is I’m lazy. At school, I try to arrange my schedule to minimize the distance between buildings. I tend to eat at places either really nearby or a bus ride away. The things in between require walking. I can walk. I don’t mind eating alone. I love wandering into a restaurant unplanned. But when I wake up at 8 on Sunday, I don’t think “oh feet, let us take a stroll six blocks uphill to have lunch at who knows where”. I stay in, (try to) work, and blog. I would never have discovered Kiraku without Teppei-san: a number of us gathered there for a farewell dinner before he and Roland took off to Korea.

    This izakaya kind of thing is more enjoyable with more people. It means more dishes. All in little bitty plates. With seven of them, we covered most bases, from tsumami (starter) to shushoku after the beer and shochu.

    We also covered the immobiles (vegetables), the legless (octopus), the two-legged (chicken), and the four-legged (pork). Now that’s a balance meal. 😀 Jonathan’s all-time favorite (the only thing that he remembered getting from last time) was the takowasabi, chopped octopus marinated with a rather gentle wasabi sauce, which simply looked slimy and tasted clean. Similar bits of octopus later showed up in the yaki udon, with katsuobushi on a basil pesto twist.

    The chicken karaage (fried chicken) and the Kiraku ribs (pork spareribs with orange marmalade) settled the rumbly tummy splendidly. But my heart felt for the tomorokoshi no kakiage (corn fritters sprinkled with green tea salt) and the omelet salad served midway through the night. Its load of shredded cabbage , crunchy and pristine, freshened up the palates to welcome the occasional chunks of pork belly. Let me get some cereal real quick, I’m hungry writing about this thing.

    Towards the end, my tongue only remembered the crackling sweetness of the renkon chipusu (lotus root chips) moderately coated in celery salt. Though Teppei warned me that izakayas are more enjoyable for drinkers (and rightfully so, seeing their forty-some choices of sake, shochu, chuhai, and beer), I had plenty of fun downing my ramune and trying to get the marble out at the end. Kiraku is no tabehodai (“all you can eat”), it’s pricey for how little food we got, but so what, it’s as cute as a button. 🙂

    Address: Kiraku
    2566B Telegraph Avenue
    Berkeley, CA 94704
    (510) 848-2758

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