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

no, ribs.

Could be shoulder blades of some sort, or the mid wing bone section. Either way, very tasty stuff but can get a bit salty. This is where some fruit forward sake shines with this kind of stuff.

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That photo is labeled “chicken ribs” but they sure look like wings.


That looks like chicken breast cartilage.


PB, in your opinion, what part of the chicken was that? I’m sure you know your way around a chicken. :wink: Fowl don’t actually have a rib cage, so chicken “ribs” is a puzzle.

Regardless, meat cooked properly on skewers?? Bring it on!!

Chickens have ribs under the breasts. If you bone a breast, you have ribs left over, but there’s little or no meat on them.

i didn’t catch everything the waitress was describing but i suspect it’s the scapula bone. the last picture in this link shows the bone.

and apparently the cut is covered by a patent.

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That first link looks like chunks of bone-in breast, and nothing like any of the photos from Rintaro.

Update 1:

Continuing on this most recent SF trip, some friends of ours wanted to hang out at an Izakaya (Japanese Pub) and considering our last meal at Izakaya Rintaro was quite enjoyable, the choice was easy. :slight_smile:

Walking into Rintaro, the space is warm and inviting, filled with a lively murmur and the sound of the kitchen cooking throughout the evening.

Den - Batch #5 - Nama Zake (Oakland, CA, U.S.A.):

A surprise that exceeded our expectations, we would’ve never ordered this bottle initially (“Sake made in Oakland, California?!”), but thanks to a strong recommendation from @beefnoguy who vouced for this brewery, we decided to give it a try:

Surprisingly tasty, lively, but clean, with almost no alcohol burn, it was a great start to the evening! :slight_smile: It was more enjoyable than a few of the new Spring Limited / Seasonal Sake releases we’ve tried from Japan recently. (Sorry @beefnoguy they didn’t have Batch #4, only Batch #5.)

The only strange thing was that for our 2nd bottle of Den Batch #5, it tasted totally different from the 1st excellent bottle: The 2nd bottle was still lively, but had a lingering finish, and it was almost savory and with a slight alcohol burn. I wonder if it’s due to storage / exposure to light?

Rintaro Zensai (Wadaman Black Sesame Tofu + Ginger; Egg + Dashi Custard with Fresh Wasabi; Pickled Cherry Blossom Daikon + Hiramasa; Miso-Cured Black Cod + Cucumber Sunomono; Tokyo Turnip with Rich Tofu-Sesame Sauce; Fresh Hodo Yuba and Rintaro Ponzu):

The most unique-looking item from the new Rintaro Zensai plate, the Wadaman Black Sesame Tofu + Ginger turned out to be just OK. It wasn’t bad, but the Black Sesame flavor was only barely present, tasting more like a good regular Tofu than something so visually stunning.

I loved the Fresh Hodo Yuba and Rintaro Ponzu! :blush: Silky, tender, delicate and quite enjoyable with our Sake.

Sashimi Plate:

Hiramasa no Sashimi (Baja Yellowtail Kingfish Sashimi with Half Moon Bay Wasabi and Yuzu Kosho):

Their Hiramasa Sashimi on this evening was firm, yet still tender, fresh, balanced and delicious! :blush:

Hirame no Kobujime (Konbu-Cured San Francisco Halibut Sashimi with Half Moon Bay Wasabi):

Their Hirame no Kobujime (San Francisco Halibut cured with Konbu (Kelp)) was fine, a bit meatier than the Hiramasa, but the Kobujime flavor wasn’t very apparent.

Overall, Rintaro’s Sashimi remains a pleasant way to scratch that itch for Sashimi when dining out with friends at an Izakaya, but it doesn’t approach top tier executions like at Aburiya Raku (or top Sushi bars).

Chicken Thigh + Onion Skewers:

Rintaro’s Yakitori (Grilled Chicken Skewers) remains solid: Their Chicken Thigh + Onion Skewers are lightly smoky, juicy, tender and delicious! :slight_smile: It also arrived just as our next bottle of Sake arrived and paired beautifully with it:

Dewazakura - Dewasansan - Junmai Ginjo Sake (Yamagata, Japan):

A touch fruity, but so crisp with a clean finish, this became our group’s favorite Sake of the evening. :slight_smile:

Rintaro Tsukune (Chicken Meatball Skewers):

As before, Rintaro uses Riverdog Farms Pasture-Raised Chickens that are dispatched daily, and the taste in the previous Chicken Thigh Skewers and these Chicken Meatball Skewers were noticeable, with a distinct poultry flavor coming through.

The Meatballs were moist, smoky, crumbly-tender, and paired great with the Dewazakura Sake. :slight_smile:

Agedashi Tofu (Fried Rintaro Tofu in Dashi Ankake with Lemon Zest, Katsuobushi, Grated Ginger, Daikon and Tororo Konbu):

Their Housemade Tofu was silken and on the medium-soft side for firmness. Tasty classic flavors with their Dashi, Ginger, Daikon and Katsuobushi, but the breading on the Agedashi Tofu was already soggy when we got it. :frowning: It wasn’t “bad”, but it lacked that balance of crisped texture with some of the softer Dashi-soaked portions.

Kanzuri Skewers:

As before, the strangely named Kanzuri Skewers were just about sold out (we got the last Skewers of the evening), and our waitress said that they were the “connective bits between the Chicken Heart and Liver.” Whatever it was, it was delicious and not very commonly found locally. :blush:

Moist, fatty, with a slight chew, they had a great flavor coming through and another nice pairing.

Hanetsuki Gyoza (Becker Lane Berkshire Pork Gyoza with Chicken Foot Jelly and “Wings”):

Rintaro’s Housemade Gyoza Dumplings were spot on: From the eye-catching presentation (with the “slurry lace”) to the medium-thin Gyoza skin that had a nice delicate chew, to the juicy, porky interior and savoriness. :blush:

Kinki Kama (Monterey Bay Chili Pepper Rock Cod Collar, with Shimeji Mushrooms, Komatsuna):

Rintaro sold out of their whole Fish of the Day, but they were able to prepare the local Rock Cod Collar as a dish instead. This was good, with tender morsels of meat from the Collar area, along with perfectly tender Shimeji Mushrooms.

Chicken Shoulder Skewers:

Nice crisped skin from the grilling, meaty, flavorful Chicken on the bone. :slight_smile:

Chicken Gizzard Skewers:

Firm, meaty, with a nice chew, it was a touch dryish, but still moist and tender enough. Probably the weakest skewer we had this evening.

King Trumpet Mushroom Skewers:

Nice burst of umami flavor. While not as standout as a great Shiitake, they were quite tasty and a great pairing with the Sake. :slight_smile:

Teba no Karaage (Japanese Fried Chicken Wings with Smoky Tare, Sansho Pepper and Wasabi Arugula):

A medium-thick batter, fried better this time compared to our 1st visit, Rintaro’s prep for Fried Chicken Wings is almost like a Japanese version of Kyochon Korean Chicken Wings: I liked the Smoky Tare Sauce and Sansho Pepper combination more than most of the usual Sweet-Garlic-Soy styles in L.A.

Katafune - Tokubetsu Honjozo Sake (Niigata, Japan):

This was the dryest Sake we had this evening with a clean finish, but not fruity at all. It was fine, but not something I’d order again compared to my favorites.

Millefeuille Miso Katsu (Ten Layer Becker Lane Pork Katsu, with Hatcho Miso Sauce, Fresh Acme Panko, Snowy Cabbage and Hot Mustard):

Their Millefeuille Miso Katsu was one of our favorite dishes from our 1st visit: Unfortunately on this visit it was a touch underfried (for the crust). The interior was still moist, tender, fatty and juicy but a touch more color and crispiness would’ve made this dish outstanding. Otherwise, still quite tasty, and I love their Nagoya-style Tonkatsu preparation with the sweeter Miso Katsu Sauce. :slight_smile:

Wagyu Kare Raisu (Rice and Skywalker Ranch Wagyu Beef Curry with Apple, Carrot, Potato, Black Sugar, Garlicky Raita and Yuko’s Fukujinzuke):

First, I had no idea Skywalker Ranch actually produced its own (American-style) Wagyu Beef! :open_mouth: But apparently, besides doing sound work for a ton of TV and Movies (besides Star Wars), Rintaro has reached out to Skywalker Ranch to use their locally raised Wagyu Beef for this dish. Neat. :slight_smile:

Second, the Housemade Japanese Curry is delicious! :heart:

Thick, but not gloppy, there’s a distinct Homemade taste to this Kare Raisu: There’s a nice punch of Curry spices, a bit of sweetness (from the cooked down Apple and Carrots and Black Sugar), but it’s balanced by the lush, meaty chunks of Skywalker Ranch Wagyu Beef. :slight_smile: We devoured our Curry Rice in seconds. :blush: (@bulavinaka @PorkyBelly @Ns1 @TheCookie @BradFord and others.)

Service remains fine at Rintaro: It operates like a many of the better Izakayas we’ve been to locally, with servers bringing in dishes, you flagging them down if you need something.

Izakaya Rintaro isn’t going to dethrone the best Izakayas like Aburiya Raku, but it has a solid menu, with some standouts like their smoky Yakitori Skewers, Fried Wings, and (when on point) their Millefeuille Miso Katsu (Fried Pork Cutlet), along with their Handmade Udon Noodle dishes. Their new Wagyu Beef Curry Rice is a standout and something I can’t wait to try again the next time I’m in the area.

Izakaya Rintaro
82 14th Street
San Francisco, CA 94103
Tel: (415) 589-7022


Glad you had a good time overall at Rintaro! There aren’t any better yakitori options in town unfortunately.

Personally I am not a fan of batch #5 and perhaps the later bottlings (higher #s) are better…the early ones have too much bitterness for me (which is what I have and I even tasted #5 at the brewery prior to the general onsale). Yeah #3 and #4 sold out some time ago, and they made fewer bottles than 5.

Katafune…this brewery does not grow on me. They like to do heavy on the fruit tones and pump the acidity up so it acts like a white wine, and more apparent with their higher end offerings. Their Daiginjo which comes in a unique sized bottle (old school and for entering competitions) has won many awards and that will probably be something you will enjoy far more Katafune Daiginjo "Tobindori"

You might like their Junmai Daiginjo far better as well

and if you are lucky, you might be able to still find the JD at Costco South SF (both locations) for about $48 which is an excellent price (sold out and $72 at True Sake). And they may have the Junmai Ginjo under $25.

Sounds like you tried most of the menu. I have not visited Rintaro in a very long time, and the last time I went was before 3 of their key staff departed. Good to hear it is still decent.

Hodo Soy makes some of the best artisan tofu and soy products around that appeals to a wider audience (including SF hipsters).


Not in SF, but Ippuku in Berkeley is excellent.

From last year:

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Hi @robert,

Yup. And I asked with extra emphasis this year as well. Similar answer, but I guess this server said it’s specifically between heart and liver.

Looks like you’re having some nice “San Francisco treats” @Chowseeker1999. Sorry, couldn’t help myself. Seriously though, it looks good. I like their sourcing! Question: I understand the “wing” part, but where does the chicken foot jelly come in?

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Hi @TheCookie,

Yah it’s been great on this SF trip. :slight_smile: The Chicken Foot Jelly is the broth inside of their Housemade Dumplings.

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@robert @Chowseeker1999 and all other Japanese cuisine lovers for any further input: @BradFord @PorkyBelly @Starchtrade @NYCtoLA @bulavinaka @Ns1 @CiaoBob

I boiled down to two guesses out this “kanzuri” skewer from Rintaro after checking the web and looking at various photos, then googling in Japanese.

The kanzuri name is perhaps half correct; the “kan” part yes, but zuri, no.

The chicken heart itself can be served and skewered in a number of ways

  1. The entire heart with blood vessels and fatty tissues attached (hatsu-maru はつ丸)

  2. The standard heart (hatsu ハツ) as we are all familiar with but with all the fat and connective tissues removed

  3. The base of the heart, known as hatsu moto はつもと where the connectors and blood vessel cords terminate into

  4. Hatsu himo はつひも - the collection of blood vessels around the root of the heart (pretty much not seen on our shores), and could be a little bit difficult to bite into…like horumon

Last but not least, there are the parts referred to as the aorta which looks like it has a few curvy tubes coming out of it. Looking at other yelp/internet pictures of Rintaro’s “kanzuri”, and comparing it to Torihei’s “special heart” which one picture on yelp was labeled “tsunagi”, they appear to be almost similar, but not quite.

Looking up “Tsunagi”:

‘Kokoro nokori’ refers to the root that connects the heart to the liver. The term itself, when translated means “(the) heart’s leftovers”, as it is seen as an extra piece of meat from the heart. As this cut tends to have more fat to it, it is best eaten with salt rather than tare. Depending on the restaurant, it may be called ‘kan’, ‘tsunagi’, ‘akahimo’ or other terms.

So two guesses: Rintaro’s “kanzuri” is “tsunagi”/“Kokoro nokori”, or special heart / aorta area. EDIT: it seems they could be one and the same…

Not a whole lot of information otherwise. If anyone else wants to take a stab at a guess of the correct name or part, please chime in.


You really are a scholar.

Hi @beefnoguy,

Thanks for the notes on the Katafune and Den Batch #3 and 4 vs. 5. Good to know.

(And good to know some of their staff changed - did they lose their head chef or key back of the house?)

I wonder if it’s the same as SSG’s special heart

Hi @beefnoguy,

Awesome sleuthing, thanks! :slight_smile: I would say we paid extra attention while eating the Kanzuri this time, and @Ns1 it didn’t taste like the “Special Heart” at Shin Sen Gumi or the Special Heart at Torihei: It was definitely less “meaty” than if the entire Chicken Heart was there.

The last explanation you listed @beefnoguy seems like it was what we were eating.Definitely tasting more “tubes” or other bits, rather than a whole intact organ (like a whole Gizzard, Heart, Liver, etc.).

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My guess - the cut is somewhat of an innard/“gizzard” of sorts, so “sunazuri” (aka “sunagimo”). But also due to its likely red appearance, they may have taken some creative liberty with saying it looks like “kanzuri” paste. In a similar way to how Nakazawa-san of Sushi Sho calls his negitoro nigiri “ohagi,” due to its similar appearance to the popular azuki-bean wagashi. Or perhaps as you identified, calling this extra “heart leftover” as “kan.” Maybe it’s a portmanteau of the two. I may not be making total sense; I’m a bit “happy” off some Jérôme Prévost “La Closerie,” which I think incidentally may very well make an interesting pairing at Yoshizumi, particularly the otsumami. Despite its extra brut dryness, it has a savory breadth to it that might pair well with some delicacies - speaking of innards - like fish liver.
thread derail - sorry!

Anyway, thanks @Chowseeker1999 for the curry rec - I need to enjoy more soul-satisfying curry dishes. I did visit Skywalker ranch a long time ago, and noticed that my butcher has some of their steaks on sale, but I didn’t know they did a “wagyu”-type of offering. Apple was unexpected, and this is a total reach (again, apologies if it’s the Champagne speakign now), but I was reminded of how at Faviken the “tasty paste” which had a ton of savoriness was simply some long-stewed alliums and carrots, not what you’d necessarily expect. As I said, need more curry. Rintaro is fairly solid but not a destination for me, but has served well on occasion. In any event, I look forward to your next reports on how you enjoyed SF!

Tsukemono, draft beer, and negima and I’m a happy camper. I need to eat more yakitori…