Mitsunobu restaurant opens in Sharon Heights


By Jane Knoerle

Almanac Lifestyles Editor

Mitsunobu Japanese restaurant has opened in the Sharon Heights Shopping Center in Menlo Park, replacing the highly rated Kaygetsu.

The restaurant, named for its new owners, Tomonari and Keiko Mitsunobu, serves Japanese California cuisine. The couple is retaining Kaygetsu's executive chef, Shinichi Aoki, and most of the staff. The restaurant offers seasonally changing fare, which is described as "traditional Japanese cuisine inspired by California."

Tomonari Mitsunobu was a chef in Japan, but has been working in management since coming to the United States five years ago. This is his first time as an owner.

The menu features a prix fixe course and a la carte items, based on local ingredients, as well as selected items from Japan. A recent lunch menu featured the familiar and the unusual for those who are not connoisseurs of Japanese cuisine. Entrees included shrimp tempura ($23), cubed filet mignon ($26), sashimi of the day ($22) and "a taste of Mitsunobu," sashimi, shrimp tempura, fish tempura wrapped with seaweed and glazed salmon "($32).

Small plates featured authentic Japanese selections, such as kinpira gobo (stir-fried burdock root) and two versions of chawanmushi (egg custard flavored with soy, dashi and mirin and served in a tea-cup like container). Traditional hijiki, listed on the menu, is a brown sea vegetable that is considered a health and beauty aid, according to Japanese folklore.

The only nod to California cuisine seemed to be a beet and mozzarella salad ($8.50).

During December, Mitsunobu is featuring a prix fixe dinner menu for $75, as well as a la carte selections. For the first course, diners may choose the "jewelry box," filled with an array of goodies, or sashimi of the day. The second course is rice in a clay pot (autumn mushroom rice or Miyagi oyster rice). The main course features Alaskan cod or Sterling Silver New York steak shabu-shabu.

Dessert is kabocha flan or baked apple with Earl Grey ice cream. The kabocha flan is described as "foamed green tea with a hint of mint and cinnamon smoke."

Keiko Mitsunobu says a special tasting menu on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve will include nine small dishes "showcasing our dynamic inspiration of a festive savory meal." There will also be a sake pairing to include rare premium sakes.

Restaurant Mitsunobu is at 325 Sharon Park Drive, at Sand Hill Road, Menlo Park. Telephone is 234-1084. Lunch is served Tuesday through Friday. The restaurant is closed Monday.

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Like this comment
Posted by Disappointed
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 12, 2011 at 1:27 pm

Sorry, but don't see this one succeeding either at those prices. This is still a majority middle class area despite the Atherton/PV/Sand Hill VC surroundings.

Like this comment
Posted by Tom Croft
a resident of Atherton: other
on Dec 12, 2011 at 5:46 pm

Wow! What prices! My daughter & I had the prix fixe dinner at Fouquets on the main drag in Paris and it wasn't that much! In Menlo Park we frequent Gombei and Tokyo Subway where Japanese food is excellent and far cheaper. In Palo Alto try Miyake for great Japanese food at a reasonable price.

2 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 12, 2011 at 6:40 pm

Akasaka in Menlo Park is good too. Deffinatley cheaper. Good sushi.

Like this comment
Posted by Foodie
a resident of another community
on Dec 12, 2011 at 8:23 pm

Mitsunobu is a special occasion restaurant that serves top quality Japanese food and not for the faint of heart. It's on the totally different plain from Gombei and Tokyo Subway where they serve Japanese comfort, home-style food. If you're looking for teriyaki chicken and California roll type of stuff, you shouldn't go there.

Like this comment
Posted by narnia
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Dec 12, 2011 at 9:30 pm

Oh, Disappointed obviously you don't know a lot about Sharon Heights. Not only are the house prices in 2million range but in one small subdivision a substantial number of people bought houses with all cash. In order to make sense of stats you have to remember that the place is also home to cheaper (but not cheap) apartments. In any case, the restaurant is an exquisit occasion one, not an everyday place. I hope they succeed. Manresa prices, or the French Laudry are very high too, but that's what you get for top ingredients cooked by masters.

Like this comment
Posted by Scholar
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Dec 13, 2011 at 12:16 pm

For a great Japanese restaurant go to Fuki Sushi in Palo Alto on El Camino.

Like this comment
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Dec 13, 2011 at 10:09 pm

Tsk Tsk Tom- Miyake is great Japanese food? It's fun, cheap, convenient- but great?

I wish this new place luck as well- it sounds interesting & original & definitely special occasion for most people.

Like this comment
Posted by Moi
a resident of Portola Valley: Ladera
on Dec 13, 2011 at 11:03 pm

You haven't seen good sushi/sashimi till you've tried Sawa sushi in Sunnyvale, Sushi Sam in San Mateo, or Tomi sushi in Mt. View.

All others pale in comparison.

Like this comment
Posted by Orly Taitz
a resident of Atherton: other
on Dec 14, 2011 at 2:02 pm

Is this another one of those establishments that serve entrees with pea-sized portions? If so, pass!

Update: Did a Google search. It appears so, by the pictures that come up. I'll stick with a week's worth of groceries over a spoonful-sized meal.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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