2130 Center St
Berkeley, CA 94704
Why did we dine here? – Ippuku is a Japanese Izakaya style restaurant in downtown Berkeley focused on serving yakitori skewers cooked on robata charcoal grill, soba, ramen, and other dishes in an interesting but narrow dining hall. They have a good selection of sake, shouchu, beer and other spirits. They are located on Center street in a long row of restaurants, a block from UC Berkeley.
We have heard great things about this restaurant and finally got a chance to dine there in the Summer of 2015.
Each dining table is separated by wood dividers. Some tables have traditional Japanese style seating, while others are western. Near the door are two ‘counter tables’ that provide an intimate yet, claustrophobic small dining area.
Insider Tip – Reservations on the weekend
Cuisine – Japanse Izakaya
Location – Near UC Berkeley
Opened – 2010
Service – Service was good with servers coming by all the time. The waiter was good at helping us order from this large menu. Pacing was reasonable, but some dishes like the vegetable skewers, took a while to arrive. Ippuku automatically add $5 per person service fee, making this easy when you need to calculate tip.
Verdict – Ippuku hits the mark for a solid Japanese Izakaya restaurant. Compared to some of the good ones in San Mateo like Yakitori Kokko and Izakya Mai, this place definitely meets the competition. Definitely more authentic than Pabu in San Francisco.
Is this restaurant worth a 5 minute drive? Yes. 30 minute? Yes. 1 Hour? Maybe.
Ippuku Signature Dishes – Chicken skewers, bacon-wrapped mochi. Pickled raw chicken!
Ippuku’s menu is pretty wide ranging with many starters, the usual assortment of skewers, along with some larger dishes like noodles and curry. Torisashi is available Wednesday to Sunday.
Ippuku Food Picks:
Complimentary wedge of lettuce with mayo dressing. Kind of weird to get this.
Jidori Gyoza ($7) – House made chicken Gyoza hit the spot. We normally wouldn’t order this but somebody wanted it.
Kakiage ($9) Brentwood Corn Tempura (Fritter) was an eggless crispy delight. A must get if you ask us.
Mune ($7) Chicken Breast kushi – Is a meaty yet still juicy. Nice charcoal flavor.
Sori ($9) Thigh Oyster is also worth ordering.
Yaki Onigiri ($8 for 2) were nicely done. Large balls of rice with lots of soy sauce on one side.
Negima ($8) Thigh with leek was a standout dish. A must get.
Eringi ($7) King Oyster Mushroom was not a large dish, yet it was satisfying.
Nasu ($6) Japanese Eggplant – Took a while to arrive but is worth ordering, especially for vegetarians.
Tsukune ($7) Minced Chicken was good but not as good as the other kushi.
Tomato Bekon ($7) – Bacon wrapped cherry tomato. How could this not be good?
OK: (Order if you like this dish)
Pans: (We would not reorder these dishes)
Katsu Karee Don ($12) was not as good as the Kaz to go place in San Mateo.
Do you agree with our review? Have you found other similar restaurants that are better?