509 2nd Ave. (near Delaware)
San Mateo, CA 94401
Japanese Izakaya is hot in the SF Bay Area right now.. Yakitori Kokko is a Japanese Izakaya or drinking oriented establishment (like Sumika in the South Bay, Ippuku in Berkeley or Izakaya Mai in San Mateo) that serves casual food focusing on skewers of meat and liquor. It is run by Japanese folks and feels pretty authentic. Yakitori means chicken grill, so the focus is on charcoal grilled meats. The place has gotten some good buzz, so we decided to give it a try. Our last visit was in the summer of 2015.
You will end up spending a good amount of money, as 5 to 8 skewers per person is probably the good meal.
Cuisine – Japanese izakaya
Location – Downtown San Mateo
Opened – 2010
Service – Yakitori Kokko had fair service although we’ve seen many reviews noting how slow food comes when the place gets busy, which is true. The servers pretty much drop and go.
Verdict – Yakitori Kokko is a fun Japanese restaurant, offering patrons a wide variety of meat skewers and beverages, at reasonable prices that accumulate quickly. Their quality is good but not as good as Ippuku in Berkeley. Be sure to make reservations, the word is out.
Next door is sister restaurant Usagi, serving Japanese Yoshoku-Ya. Americanized items like hamburger steak and tapas. We recommend you order the beef curry, the super excellent Uni risotto, garlic butter clams, and the hayashi rice.
Signature Dishes – Skewers
Yakitori Kokko Menu contains a wide variety of skewers cooked in different styles. We recommend you come here with lots of people and try as many as you can.
Kokko Food Picks:
Fresh Grape Squeeze Soju Cocktail ($5) was really grapefruit and required you to juice the grapefruit yourself! DIY! The end product was decent at least. On another visit the other grape cocktail was easier to drink, but had hidden alcohol.
Tsukemono mori ($4.50) Assorted Japanese Pickles are good for those who love these. Several different types.
Momo ($2.20) – chicken thigh, salt, were very good chunks of chicken. Not at all salty. Much better than breast.
Butabara ($2.60) – pork belly, 2 big skewers, was acceptable but not as good as the one at Pabu. A bit dry.
Tsukune ($2.40) – Chicken meatball, salt, corn dog looking but soft and tender inside.
Hatu ($2.20) – Chicken heart, salt, liver like in texture, but still pretty good.
Nankotu ($3.70) – Chicken Cartilage is more of an acquired taste. 5 small chunks to chewy/crunchy bliss.
Tontoro ($2.40) – pork cheek was excellent. Fatty and chewy, it perfect skewer.
Gyu tan ($2.70) – Beef tongue, salt, was a bit on the chewy side but all in all not very exotic texture wise. Solid flavors that border on being juicy and fatty. Worth ordering.
Shitake mushroom ($2.30) had three good sized mushroom that were pretty juicy and steaming hot. We preferred this over the other mushroom skewer, eringi.
Asparagus with bacon ($2.40) – were tiny but fun little bundles of euthanized vegetable.
Yaki Onigiri ($3.50) was a large rice ball with some soy sauce seasoning. Worth ordering.
It is wise to order this and some Rice, otherwise you may need to order 10 skewers to fill up.
OK: (Order if you like this dish)
Mune ($2.70) – Chicken breast, Salt, bigger chunks of chicken, well defined charcoal flavor. A bit dry.
Kamo ($3) – duck breast, sauce, could have been a piece of chicken and we probably wouldn’t have known different.
Kalbi ($3.20) – Korean style Beef didn’t have that much Kalbi flavor but was still okay.
Miso soup ($2.95) included some eggplant and tofu, dressing up this basic staple. Noting special otherwise.
Atuage fried tofu ($2) – were okay but a bit on the dry side.
Kokko Ramen ($8.95) tasted like it came from a packaged product. They did include and egg, bamboo shoots, and some reasonable pork slices.
Kokko Cha ($6.50) had rice balls in soup. An interesting dish, far better than the Nabe.
Pans: (We would not reorder these dishes)
Moto Nabe ($9.75) took forever to arrive and included some very chewy intestine we had to spit out. Only one type of veggie.