I’m trying to think of the reasons I keep confusing myself between Mifune (San Francisco) and Miyuki (North Berkeley) when I tell people about them. Admittedly they share some obvious similarities, as much as any Japanese restaurant would be similar to another Japanese restaurant. Miyuki is for donburi, and Mifune is for udon and soba. Not only that they’re totally unrelated, I also remember them for different reasons. But that in itself is another similarity: what makes me remember them is not the focus of their menus. When I think of Miyuki, I think of its eggroll and mango icecream dessert. When I think of Mifune, I think of its green tea rice.
Ochazuke (green tea rice) is not uncommon among Japanese and those who know Japanese food, but it’s uncommon in Japanese restaurants in America. In fact, I just now looked at every available menu in San Fran Japantown, and found no ochazuke. Mifune doesn’t have its menu online.
Like kimchi fried rice (and really, any kind of fried rice), ochazuke makes good use of leftover rice. Unlike fried rice, ochazuke is not fried. It’s soupy, with green tea being the soup. When you think about it, it’s not really that strange. A number of Vietnamese people, Little Mom for instance, like to pour the Vietnamese brothy soups (canh) into rice, the rice is thus flavored and not lumped together, making it easy and quick to eat. The Koreans have guk bap (국밥). I understand the principles, but personally, I don’t condone the practice. Rice is rice, soup is soup, and rice isn’t chewy like noodle to go with soups.
And this green tea does very little to flavor the rice. One could say the green tea is the cameraman, not the singer in this bowl, but simply put, it’s just outshone by the salty plum and the nori strips. That said, in hindsight, as much as I was bored by the tea-less taste of a watery rice, and as I’ve never had ochazuke anywhere else, it became a fond definition of Mifune, one that stays dormant for months and certainly has some influence on my next post.
1737 Post St.
San Francisco, CA 94115