Dine

Hopscotch

Off the beaten path and off my radar, but I finally made it into this über-hip joint lurking on the outskirts of the ever-booming Uptown district.

It was this article in Oakland Magazine that put it back on my to-dine list, but this review by Michael Bauer that sealed the deal. 

From the moment you walk in the door, you'll question whether or not you're cool enough to be there but don't be put off by that - serious substance awaits. I love the retro diner decor and the coziness of this tiny space. There are maybe a dozen tables and it's only a matter of time before there's a line out the door.

The bartender, sporting a poofy hairstyle to match that retro diner vibe, mixes up some tasty artisinal cocktails. I had the Corpse Reviver no 2 because I'm obsessed with absinthe right now - especially the one from the folks at St George Spirits.

Oh, and last but not least the food, described as "Japanese comfort food", sounds like an oxymoron I know. I for one do not seek out sushi when only mashed potatoes will do, but trust me when I tell you Kyle Itani's take on "diner food" goes well beyond merely comfort.

The Smoked Kampachi Crudo goes down as one of the best raw fish dishes I've ever had and the Manilla Clam Hot Pot while completely different is equally delicious. The Pork Chop with lardo, bamboo shoots and crispy garlic knocks it out of the park and the Skillet Roasted Striped Bass is a close second if in fact you need more fish.

The finale - a butterscotch pudding, could go toe-to-toe with Flora for creating a cult following with a tiny bowl of creamy scorched sugar - and that is saying something.