Yu Me Ya
It came as delicious news when I saw that Yu Me Ya, a jewel box Japanese small plates and sake house and a favorite North County restaurant opened up a second location in the heart of Hillcrest this past April. The focus at this new restaurant is definitely on drinking, with a selection of Japanese craft beers and varieties of sake—running the gamut from dry to sweet—that’s pretty unparalleled in San Diego. But though the service could not have been friendlier, the food seemed a bit lost in translation upon initial taste exploration, especially when compared to their first Encinitas restaurant, where, since 2006, members of the Nakai family have run both the kitchen and front-of-house with attention and care.
The menu offers a few sushi rolls but the emphasis here is on Japanese-style tapas—tiny dishes holding a few bites each. Best choices include expertly-fried tempura, a small filet of miso-marinated black cod loaded with umami savor, and cocktail-sized sausages made from Kurobuta, also known as Berkshire, pork. Mini ceramic pots hold a few different types of soup with udon noodles—handmade in their Encinitas kitchen and then brought down south—but they somehow taste better at the original source. Perhaps it’ll just take some time for the Fourth Avenue outpost to warm up; in the meantime, stop in to sip sake and maybe share a few snacks. 3882 Fourth Avenue.