Can’t swing a ticket to Tokyo? Dinner at Ippuku is the next best thing. With its low Japanese-style tables, extensive woodwork and enormous selection of sake and shochu, it feels like an authentic izakaya transplanted into a corner of downtown Berkeley. The low-profile entrance adds to the feeling that you’ve lucked upon a special dining secret—assuming you don’t stroll right past it, that is.
Yakitori is the big draw here, with smoky, salty chicken thighs, necks, hearts and gizzards arriving fresh off the binchotan. Other excellent small plates include korokke, or golden-brown Dungeness crab croquettes, crisp on the outside and with a creamy interior, or yaki-imo, caramelized white sweet potato with a sweet-and-salty glaze.- MICHELIN guide inspectors