At Home and Underground - The Tasty Yakitori and Handmade Udon of Izakaya Rintaro [Thoughts + Pics]



I think whole-chicken yakitori places always run out of certain things early. For example, for each skewer of eight hearts, they have maybe 32 skewers of thigh.

I’m skeptical that that’s a good description. Kanzuri is a brand of artisanal fermented chile paste, I can’t find anyplace other than Rintaro using that as the name of a chicken part, and I don’t think there’s anything big enough to skewer between the heart and adjacent organs.

Hi @robert,

Yah, definitely it makes sense: 1 heart in a chicken vs. how much meat must they have have for thighs and breasts? :slight_smile: Then again, supermarkets go through more dark and white meat (and very little for organ meats) so perhaps some places supplement their stock with that side of the supply chain surplus?

Re: Kanzuri, yah we’d never heard of it before, and I’m only reporting back what our server told us. Thanks.

Major supermarket chains don’t break down whole birds. Probably a lot of the innards end up in pet food.

Kanzuri is a type of chili paste. There may indeed be a brand named Kanzuri but there’s not just one brand making kanzuri. Like how yuzukosho is a type of paste, not one brand.

Kanzuri here likely refers to the innard’s reddish looks. It being a connective tissue it can probably be described as gizzard aka “zuri,” aka “sunazuri” aka “sunagimo.” Note that the names of specific cuts of meat vary a bit. E.g. sunazuri refers to gizzard with chicken yet it refers to a different yet very special part of the tuna or yellowtail.

Calling this cut “kanzuri” may be a slang term for gizzard / “zuri” that is reminiscent in color to kanzuri paste and they took a little liberty in referencing something similar.

Some Japanese restaurants take liberties with naming items to reference other foods that look similar. Sushi Sho (from Keiji Nakazawa, not the El Cerrito one which is completely different and about 6 notches down) has a signature item they call “ohagi.” It’s chopped tuna mixed with daikon and some other items, like onion or takuan, and it looks like the wagashi “ohagi” (made of mashed azuki beans), even though its ingredients are very different.

One really interesting cut of yakitori is the diaphragm (sometimes called “harami”) - it has a delicious chew that’s somewhere between tendon and cartilage. Maybe diaphragm is not directly between the heart and other organs but it’s close enough.

My guess is the “kanzuri” is actually gizzards / “zuri.”


That would expect the lack of gizzards on the menu.

Oh @beefnoguy, Rintaro did have one Sake that we hadn’t seen before:

Kirinzan - Kagayaki - Daiginjo Genshu Sake

How is it? We love the regular Kirinzan Daiginjo, but was curious about this Kagayaki offering. It was a bit too pricey for our friends, so we held off on ordering it.

Lastly, I have to gripe a little: Why are all the great Izakaya in SF closed by 9:30 or 10:00 p.m. most nights of the week? :cry: It seems a bit sad (and kind of unfortunate that we can’t stop in for some late night snacks and great Sake).

1 Like

Yes Bradford is right. Kanzuri at least from what I have had, is a dark red chili paste that has yuzugosho / citrus based tones and can be quite potent. It’s a famous chili paste in Niigata prefecture and in Northern California you can find a jar at Umami Mart in Oakland. Certain dishes taste mighty fine with a little Kanzuri and can elevate the sake drinking experience.

In Tokyo, there is a Niigata prefecture antennae shop very near Omotesando Hills that sells souvenirs, food items, and sake from the region. Here is a picture of their kanzuri section, of which you gotta love that chili pepper logo on the jar who looks like he’s also suffering from extreme cornholio burnout.

I remember having the chicken skewer part referred to as kanzuri as well at Rintaro and it was quite delicious. Kind of like thigh oyster, but maybe referring to another part. It wasn’t gizzard.

Regarding the sake:

Tedorigawa Kinka is always a safe bet at Rintaro, and glad that they are carrying Tedorigawa Junmai Yamahai which is a great izakaya sake. The latter to me is not even funky at all (I tend to enjoy the stronger stuff), yet with the increased acidity as a result of brewing with the traditional Yamahai method the sake has incredible balance and smoothness. What sucks at Rintaro is that their handling/storage of bottles by the glass is no good, and their pours are very small and sad (they don’t even fill the glass 3/4 of the way). So you get better value by the bottle (or corkage for your favorite drinks).

You can look up information on True Sake’s website of Kirinzan Kagayaki Daiginjo. Strangely in Japan the retail is only $40 to $50 equivalent, but the only place that sells this is True Sake which they charge $180. It could be limited, not as many exported, hence a larger markup.

I’ve had four bottles of Kagayaki in the last 3 years or so and I have to say that every time the experience is different. There are consistency issues and some of it has to do with shipping/handling/transport, and the batch. The best I’ve had were at two tastings (one was at True Sake where a rep from Kirinzan came over) and the other was through the distributor or importer at Sake Day. When the bottle is pristine, the sake has a wonderful dryness and is quite powerful. My last bottle drank a touch too fruit forward and was muted from it being cold to lightly chilled to room temperature, and food did quite little with it. My guess is that this bottle does not age very well and needs to be consumed quickly (some Daiginjo can age in low temperatures for some time). So for me, this sake is not quite worth getting anymore (a large part is due to a change in my tastes and perceived value) but don’t let that stop you from ever trying it (it could be my bad luck). However for gifting to someone of immense importance and value, the label alone can be very meanginful. The kanji for Kagayaki 輝 represents splendor, brilliance, and like a shining star.
This would be a good bottke to have at Mori, Shiki (particularly with the kaiseki/sushi combo), or Shunji to have with cooked dishes and sushi.

1 Like

Thanks @beefnoguy. Very interesting about the Kagayaki and from the way you mention Rintaro handling their storage of bottles by the glass, it makes us glad we didn’t order the Kagayaki by the bottle (it was bottle only), just in case, since you said it seems rather sensitive to how it was transported / stored, etc.

I like the regular Kirinzan Daiginjo so much, so I’m hoping to try another Kirinzan (that you’d recommend) if we ever see it offered anywhere (so far in LA, we’ve only ever seen regular Kirinzan).

If you are still in town hit up True Sake.

Try the Kirinzan Classic Futsushu (it’s around $25) and has no polish ratio, but is a fantastic value everyday sake and perfect for grilled stuff. Then pick up the Kirinzan Round “Flying Horse” Junmai that will work with izakaya and sushi and comes in a very interesting shaped round bottle. You can try their Junmai Ginjo which comes in a purple bottle of the same Junmai Daiginjo blue bottle you’ve had before, and the store should also have it in stock (though the JD is about $80 due to exchange rates and costs of obtaining). Or mail order and have them ship to LA.

If you want to pick a sake brewery to taste the entire portfolio, Kirinzan is a solid choice.

1 Like

Thanks again @beefnoguy. Do you remember if they have any of those Kirinzan varieties at Izakaya Ginji or Iroriya?

They do not carry any Kirinzan

1 Like

Nice report @Chowseeker1999!

Seems like it has a cool vibe. The food looks kinda’ rustic? I like the dark char on the Yakitori / Kushiyaki.

Nice S.F. Seeking!

1 Like

Thanks @TheCookie. :slight_smile: If you head up to SF, definitely give Rintaro a consideration (but not before Saison or Californios or Dragon Beaux)! :wink:

1 Like

If you live in LA, I don’t think there’s any reason to go out of your way to eat at Rintaro. Not that I’d warn anyone away or anything, but it’s not that different from or better than what you can get in LA.

Okay, so it’s not destination eating. Got it. There’s plenty other interesting looking options posted on this board from @Chowseeker1999 and @PorkyBelly.

1 Like

forgot to post my pics. tsukune and fried chicken wings were the highlight.

tokubetsu moriawase - ft. bragg uni, viking village scallop, baja yellowtail, wild seabass, big eye tuna, sf swordfish, half moon bay wasabi

house cured steelhead roe

teba no karaage - japanese fried chicken wings with smoky tare, sansho pepper, wasabi arugula

kare kabocha korokke - potato and kabocha curry croquettes with fresh acme panko and snowy cabbage

yakitori - tsukune, chicken oysters, hearts, thigh

chicken ribs


Hi @PorkyBelly,

Nice! And also… Chicken Ribs?! :open_mouth: It looks crispy. How was it? :slight_smile:

Looking forward to more pics! Are you up north right now? :slight_smile:

1 Like

Those are clearly wings, not ribs.

Looks like chicken cartilage.