I love an early dinner at Hana Japan in the Berkeley Marina. I discovered this restaurant seven years ago when my intense pregnancy beef craving had me googling “neiman ranch berkeley” (and found only these guys and Cactus Taqueria). For a few years, it was my family's birthday tradition for parents and grandparents, so over the years, we've tested it out with infants, barely-eating babies, crazy toddlers, and curious preschoolers. All good.
[Ha ha! We packed our own bowls and forks]
Hana Japan is one of those Teppanyaki places with tabletop grilling and knife-twirling guaranteed to thrill the kids (and impress the adults).
Seriously, the chefs do a train thing with puffing “smoke” emerging from chugging onions. My three-year old declared it was “Super fun.”
The food is dramatically prepared but the tastes are straightforward fresh meats, vegetables, and rice with Japanese dipping sauces. One chef made “just a scrambled egg” for my one-year-old (for free!), but my little guy wolfed down the real food too.
What's not to like?
Before you pack up your family, I would caution you about two things:
- It ain't cheap. There's a good reason to go on your birthday where one entree is free with the purchase of three (if your family is not that big, one meal can be to go)
- Picky eaters might be disappointed. If you don't like fresh fish, steak, chicken, or rice AT ALL then stay away. There is no mac n cheese option, at least I don't think so.
I love it, but I would hesitate to drag Whitney's family there because I think her meat-refusing kids would eat only raw vegetables and then she might get stuck paying entree prices for a few strips of bell pepper. Perfect place to go with visiting from out-of-town family. Tables seat eight so if your party is smaller, you will have to share.
Hana Japan is located across the street from Adventure Playground in Berkeley.