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Update: Hanazen



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Photo by Sherry L. Yelp.com

Whether you are a sushi specialist or don’t know an anago from an unagi, head to tiny Hanazen, where chef Kenji Horikawa makes all delicacy decisions for you. Horikawa only swipes wasabi on the plate when appropriate so there is only delicate soy (dip if instructed) and pickled ginger (aka “palate cleanser”) to contend with; chopsticks are optional. (A card illustrates how to eat sushi like finger food.) A recent journey of 14 courses—nearly all pristine slices of single nigiri—included kampachihirame, and aji, with evocative seasonings like orange blossom salt, yuzu gelée, and slivers of shiso. Horikawa kisses his king salmon with cherrywood smoke and weaves briny sardines and sweetly marinated salmon roe. When calling for a reservation, we were counseled it was prix fixe only and that there would be no tempura, mayo sauces, California rolls, or other Western fancies. Estimated at $70 per person over the phone (prices vary by day), our sushi came in at an eye-popping $100—so be sure to inquire, and perhaps negotiate, before you commence. Coco, Horikawa’s wife and Hanazen partner for 13 years, is a sake expert who offers beautifully conceived flights. 87 Orinda Way, (925) 254–3611, myhanazen.com. Dinner Tues.–Sat. $$$$

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