Charlie Trotter had a great restaurant while this implies that he was a great chef, it also means that he was able to recognize talent and had many talented people working under him. One of these people was Matthias Merges, who was with Trotter for 14 years. While I said that the people coming from Charlie Trotter's were very talented, I would not have expected a Trotter chef to open a Japanese Yakitori inspired restaurant, but that is what Merges opened with Yusho. Yakitori is Japanese street food and most of the things served are fried. The dishes served are smaller plates which are meant for sharing. It was also divided into Birds, Land and Sea, Steam Buns, and Sweet. The restaurant is small, seating about 40 people at tables and about another 20 at the high bar that runs deep into the restaurant and looks like it was built separately and placed in the restaurant fully built. The kitchen/grill is open and sits behind the bar and beside the bar that serves alcohol. The lights are pretty cool. They are hanging lights with a light bulb at the end of a big heavy rope. For my dinner, I sat at the bar and tried several dishes throughout the menu. For my first course, I started with some Chicken Drumettes with Red Miso Sauce and Sesame Seeds. Many people like their chicken wings spicy and drumettes are the top bones of the chicken wing. These were not spicy but they were very good. The miso sauce, a fermented soybean sauce, added a really savory flavor and the sesame seeds went well with the miso. The wings, though pretty simple, were one of those dishes that you keep on coming back to, this was a great start and I was excited for my next dish.
Steam Buns are also called Bao and for my Bao, I ordered what they called a Cosmo, I am not sure why it was called a Cosmo but it was really good. The Cosmo was exploding out of the steam bun and contained Blood Sausage, Red Pepper, Cilantro, Bean Sprouts, and Cauliflower. The blood sausage was spicy, the vegetables were crunchy, and the steam buns were really fluffy and slightly sweet. It was a mix of flavors and textures and I really enjoyed it.
I had, at this time, tried something from all of the savory parts of the menu. I could have continued to dessert, but there were still some interesting things on the menu that I wanted to try. I had heard that the Chicken Skin was something to be had so that's where I went next. The Chicken Skin was very crispy (as it was deep fried) and contained Japanese Mustard, Garlic, and Togarashi. It was spicy, garlicky and crispy and kind of reminded me of spicy chicken flavored chips. In my opinion while they were flavorful and were pretty good, they were also pretty greasy so they weren't really a favorite.
I next tried another vegetable dish. It was called Gobo Root which we know as Burdock. It was pickled, coated in Black Sesame Seeds, and served with Sliced Asian Pears and Plums. I am generally not a fan of pears, and I was really unsure of what Gobo was when I ordered it but I thought it sounded interesting so I ordered it. As the Gobo was pickled, it was a bit sour, It was soft and hollow but had a bit of a crunch and had a flavor similar to a radish or a parsnip. The sliced plums were juicy, the pears were crisp and crunchy, and it was all very good.
Like many Japanese restaurants, Mochi is on the dessert menu. I have had mochi a few times vut I really have to say that I don't get it. So while it is on the menu, it was not high on my list of things I might have wanted for dessert. Other than the mochi, there was soft-serve ice cream, and doughnuts. While the ice cream sounded good, I decided on the doughnuts. The Doughnuts which were actually doughnut balls and were made with Tofu, were covered in Powdered Thai Basil and Candied Ginger, and served with Raspberry Jam. The doughnut balls were crisp on the outside with a really fluffy interior. The basil and ginger made for a sweet and spicy garnish and the raspberry jam made for a fruity finish.
I really liked my dinner here. The dishes are very creative and while they are outside most people's comfort boxes, they are still very approachable. They make it easy to expand your horizon. I will very definitely return.