Joshu-ya Brasserie in Berkeley: Top Grade Sushi, Top Quality Tapas
When asked about the main reason for Joshu-ya Brasserie’s success, Jason Kwon, the 29-year-old executive chef/owner, readily shares his secret. “We over deliver,” he says, meaning the utmost dedication to quality, consistency, and affordability he and his team are pursuing in their business practice. “I travel the world for each dish I put on the menu, and every season I create new recipes. Food goes first, and if it’s good, business will follow.” To ensure well-coordinated and harmonious teamwork, Kwon makes hiring decisions based on anticipated synergetic effect and puts emphasis on thorough staff training and worker satisfaction.
Serving fresh, seasonal, local produce and seafood from the sustainable sources, chef Kwon creates his original recipes using Asian and European cuisine for inspiration. Currently, there are two distinct menus at Joshu-ya: Japanese, centered on expertly prepared sushi and various noodle bowls, and Spanish, featuring all the Barcelonan staples, with added American classics (creatively reimagined) such as pork belly sliders with apple cider coleslaw and fried onions.
Besides the excellent food and drink, there are at least two major attractions at Joshu-ya: its ambience, with Japanese-themed, recently renovated dining rooms and heated patio, and its friendly, knowledgeable service.
With all the ingredients for success in place, the Joshu-ya experience is a joyful one, no matter which menu you come in for. And why not try a little bit of both?
On a recent Friday night, my husband and I started our dinner with hot sake served in white porcelain and an amuse bouche of Peruvian scallop ceviche with tomato, mint, scallions, and bright—both in color and in flavor—ginger-mango infusion.
Our picturesque sushi combo included chu-toro, bluefin tuna belly from Spain, yellowtail hamachi from Japan, shiro maguro seared albacore tuna from Canada, house-marinated ikura red caviar, fresh octopus, and hotate sea scallop from Massachusetts, topped with local uni sea urchin from Santa Barbara.
A very different but equally enticing dish, Spanish octopus gallego featured grilled Spanish octopus garnished with crispy duck fat potato confit, sun dried tomato-caper sauce, and sake-balsamic reduction.
Fragrant and flavorful black mussels con chorizo was served in a pan filled with plump mollusks swimming in Spanish chorizo-infused white wine-lobster garlic broth with a side of grilled artisanal bread for dipping.
Tiramisu with Nutella hazelnut cream for dessert was as good as you’d expect from an authentic Italian restaurant and seemed very much in place among its eclectic but excellently executed menu peers.
All in all, Joshu-ya is a place where so many tastes are satisfied and so many expectations are met that it never disappoints.
Joshu-ya Brasserie is located at 2441 Dwight Way in Berkeley. For reservations call (510) 848-5260.