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For my birthday dinner, the hubby and I met some friends, David and Kathryn, at Yamaguchi’s Sake and Tapas. A little restaurant in an out of the way area (they don’t even have a sign outside), Yamaguchi’s is as much about the food as it is about the experience. The best way to explain their food is to say this – they serve the food you would eat at a traditional Japanese home. There are some raw things but most everything is cooked.

Freshness of the ingredients is the key to their success. Every Thursday fresh fish is flown in from Japan. I am pretty sure no other place in Lexington can guarantee such fresh seafood.  And there is no sushi on the menu. Perhaps it is too cliche for a place that clearly prides itself on quality, tradition, and atmosphere.

If you go to Yamaguchi’s, there are a few things you should know. They frown on cell phone conversations. Children, unless they are older and well behaved, are not really their customer type (aka don’t bring them). They encourage you to sit and enjoy each tapas, the soothing music, and your companions. Wait staff is the cook’s wife and she is very gracious/unobstrusive. If you are expecting to have a loud, boisterous family reunion and an American style meal, this is not the place for you!

Please forgive the not so amazing quality of the photos below. Iphones only can do so much.

They have cold sake by the taste, glass or bottle. I had only tried warm sake in the past and greatly disliked it. Cold sake is amazingly smooth and a bit sweet. They also have interesting names. The sake below is a “taste” and called Wandering Poet.

They also serve fresh sashimis as well as unique things. The picture below was taken by David a few months ago. They are Firefly Squid with a Vinegar Mustard Miso Paste. They are only offered one week a year. How awesome is that? And they look super tasty.

The Wafu Caprese salad is lovely. This caprese varies from the traditional in it’s use of shiso, a Japanese basil, and a Japanese style dressing.

Tontoro Misoyaki is a pork jowl meat, thinly sliced, broiled, then served with a homemade garlic miso. I think it was my favorite of all the dishes we tried.

Gyuniku Aburiyaki is thinly sliced ribeye steak, topped with fresh wasabi and soy sauce. Surprisingly, the fresh wasabi is not nearly as spicy as one might expect from paste or powder. The beef tones down any overwhelming hotness.

I tried a bite of the Jikasei Atsuage Tofu. I normally shy away from tofu because of it’s odd texture. But since this is adventure eating, why not try everything? I was very pleasantly surprised. The tofu is deep fried and served with ginger, scallions and soy sauce.

The squid tempura was very nice as well. The crust was nice and light with a minimal greasiness. It was served with soy sauce, green tea salt, and some amazing little peppers whose name I have forgotten.

The dessert was an almond flavored pudding with strawberries. Very nice, light finish to a delightful meal.

I strongly suggest you go to Yamaguchi’s Sake and Tapas. We tried several other things not pictured above that were just as yummy as those mentioned. I intend to go back in the future!!

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