325 Sharon Park Dr., Menlo Park CA 94025
$$$$ Japanese

This venue is no longer open.

Japanese Haute-Cuisine in Menlo Park

Review by

Stepping into Kaygetsu is like being transported thousands of miles away to Tokyo, when in fact it is located in a quiet residential strip mall.  Though easily overlooked because of its modest outward appearance, Kaygetsu serves some of the Bay Area’s finest ‘kaiseki ryori,’ traditional and complex Japanese tasting menus.  Owners Keiko and Shinichi Aoki do a marvelous job at giving guests an authentic experience.

The atmosphere is understated and calm, while the décor is clean and minimalist with earthy tones of beige and brown.  The sushi bar is in prime view to all guests who enter, putting on display the evening’s freshest selections.  In true Japanese style, the setting is understated, allowing the food to take center stage. 

We were quickly greeted and taken to our table by Keiko, who runs the front of the house.  The menu features a wide array of à la carte selections, as well as a 6-course kaiseki tasting.  My dining partner and I opted to go for the latter so that we could experience a variety of the chef’s dishes.  Kaygetsu also has a spectacular sake and wine list with bottles offered to satisfy most tastes.  Several top sake producers are featured on the list including Masumi, Koshi, and (my personal favorite) Dewazakura.  I selected a bottle of Dewazakura Daiginjo sake to accompany our dinner.  It was crisp, refreshing, and floral with overtones of cherry that would end up pairing beautifully with our dishes.

The kaiseki started out with a sakizuki, or small appetizer, of Goma Tofu -- an ethereally light sesame-flavored piece of tofu (made in-house) with shiso sprouts, fresh wasabi, and a delicate dashi sauce. This tofu was rich and creamy, which contrasted well with the piquant dab of freshly grated wasabi.  Unlike the electric-green paste that one finds at most Japanese restaurants, fresh wasabi has a more subtle and delicate flavor that is both sweet and spicy. The soy and bonito broth-based sauce blended all the flavors harmoniously. 

Next up was a selection of sashimi, which changes daily based on the whims of the chef.  We were served a delicious trio of fish: Octopus, Toro, and Hamachi (yellowtail).  This was some of the best quality fish I’ve ever tasted.  The octopus was served ‘nama,’ or raw, and thinly sliced.  Its toothsome texture was amazing and nothing like the typical boiled octopus served at most sushi joints.  The hamachi was equally as delicious, with a luscious flavor that brought me back memories of Japan.  My favorite, however, was the toro as it was buttery, rich and melted in my mouth -- simply amazing. As with the previous course, freshly grated wasabi accompanied the sashimi, elevating the delicate seafood to new heights.

The course that followed was called Hassun, which is composed of several small dishes showcasing seasonal ingredients.  It featured a chilled Chawan-Mushi, a silky Japanese steamed custard flavored with bonito fish broth, topped with a thick kudzu starch sauce.  Also presented were a Tai Chimaki Sushi of fresh snapper fillet wrapped with rice in a piece of savory white kelp; Fig with Sesame Sauce, Japanese Eggplant with corn sauce and fresh sea urchin roe; and a Yamamomo berry braised in wine.  Each of these items illustrated great attention to detail and balanced savory, sweet, and earthy flavors that reflected the season well.  The paring of the nutty and rich sesame sauce with the fresh fig, for example, showed Chef Aoki’s skills of combining flavors and ingredients in imaginative ways. This course was one of the highlights of the evening.

A Yakimono, or grilled dish, was served next with washu beef and moro miso, maraganji pepper, karashi mustard, and scallions.  The beef was succulent and well-marbled, and skillfully grilled rare.  The accompaniments paired well with the beef, accentuating its natural flavor.  The moro miso in particular went well with the beef’s richness, while the karashi mustard was just zesty enough to keep things balanced.  The maraganji peppers served on the side were slightly bitter, which rounded out the plate very well. The paring of the nutty and rich sesame sauce with the fresh fig, for example, showed Chef Aoki’s skills of combining flavors and ingredients in imaginative ways.

We also had Cold Somen Noodles with fresh shrimp, julienned egg, shiitake mushrooms, and mitsuba (a Japanese herb similar to parsley) along with a ginger-dashi sauce.  This dish was invigorating and revived our palates after the richness of the previous course.  The shrimp were poached gently, and the mitsuba added a wonderful herbal flavor to the dish. The noodles were also prepared so that they were still al dente, adding a textural element that worked well with the slightly chewy mushrooms. The tangy ginger-infused sauce, accented with bonito and kombu sea kelp, united the elements.

Our last course was an Ume Plum Sorbet with plum wine gelée and fresh berries.  The sorbet was refreshing, aromatic and unlike any other sorbet I’ve had.  It deftly combined sweet and tart and finished with a very slight and pleasant bitterness.  The gelée added a wonderful textural element and rich flavor.  The combination was clever as well, since ume plums are the same type of fruit used to make the wine for the gelée.  It was a fitting end to the meal that exposed us to many Japanese ingredients and dishes that I’ve never had before.

The kaiseki dinners at Kaygetsu are some of the most imaginative and unique tasting menus in the Bay Area, while the à la carte menu offers a wide variety of dishes that can allow for sharing and tasting.  Chef Aoki pays great attention to detail in his cuisine, allowing for a symphony of flavors and textures to create a complex and memorable experience, while his wife Keiki makes sure that guests are happy and taken care of.

Copyright © TableAgent.com


Business Info

  • Address: 325 Sharon Park Dr., Menlo Park CA 94025
  • Cross Street: Sand Hill Road
  • Location: San Mateo County | Menlo Park
  • Cuisine: Japanese | Sushi |
  • Cost: | Expensive
  • Category: Fine Dining
  • Star Rating:
  • Reservations: Recommended
  • Dress Code: Business Casual
  • Meals Served: Lunch | Dinner |
  • Parking: Public Lot |
  • Payment Options: VISA | Amex | MasterCard | Discover |
  • Corkage Fee: N/A
  • Phone: (650) 234-1084
  • Features: Tasting Menu, Personal Wines Allowed,
  • Occasion: Dining Alone, Business Dining, Quiet Conversation, Special Occasion,


Kaygetsu - Sushi Specialty

Business Hours

Reservations Available
11:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.
5:30 p.m. - 8:45 p.m.
11:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.
5:30 p.m. - 8:45 p.m.
11:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.
5:30 p.m. - 8:45 p.m.
11:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.
5:30 p.m. - 9:15 p.m.
5:30 p.m. - 9:15 p.m.
5:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.
<QuerySet [{'id': 2184, 'name': 'Dinner Menu', 'description': None, 'fixprice': False, 'menuprice': Decimal('0.00'), 'displayorder': 3}]>


Customer Reviews & Ratings

4.5 out of 5 stars based on 1 votes