Gallery: Samurai Mama: Makato Suzuki's Awesome Second Act

Tanuki Udon ($8)
Tanuki Udon ($8)

Handmade udon with tempura flakes in a bonito broth.

Age Nashi ($5.50)
Age Nashi ($5.50)

Deep fried eggplant with baby shrimp and garlic. The tiny eggplant are tender and fatty but not greasy or heavy. Caramelized garlic is not a typical Japanese flavor, but it works well here.

Konbu Dango ($4)
Konbu Dango ($4)

Deep fried fritters of sea kelp and soy beans with a mildly spicy matonnaise. The flavor is somewhat like a vegetarian tako-yaki with a light but savory texture.

Mama's Pork Gyoza ($6.5)
Mama's Pork Gyoza ($6.5)

Gyoza is not normally on the teppan-yaki (iron griddle) section of a Japanese menu, but the unique cooking style here makes the choice clear. The pork dumplings are cooked in a cast iron skillet then inverted so that the crusty skin stays crisp as it's served. I've never seen dumplings like this before, but I hope to see many, many more of them.

Shrimp Tempura ($3 each, added to udon)
Shrimp Tempura ($3 each, added to udon)

There's a dozen add-on topping choices for the udon ranging from slow-poached egg and tororo (grated yam) to sweet potato or shrimp tempura (all $2-3). It may seem odd to serve crisp fried food in a soup, but it's a very traditional Japanese preparation, and I like the way the bits that stick out stay crisp while the submerged bits become almost fluffy, with the texture of dim-sum chicken feet.

Taco-style Sushi ($4.5 to $6 per piece)
Taco-style Sushi ($4.5 to $6 per piece)

Sushi served with cubed fish in little nori boats. One of the less successful interpretations here (the nori gets a little soggy and chewy as it sits), but tasty nonetheless. Traditional fish-only sushi sits next to more modern combos with avocado or spicy mayo. The best part of the dish is the bright pink pickled yuzu rind that replaces the pickled ginger.

Three sauces
Three sauces

A stayover from Bozu, the sushi comes with three pre-mixed sauces. Plain soy, and two variations of soy with wasabi, increasing in strength.

Egg-dipping
Egg-dipping

You can dump and pour in the big bowl, or dip your noodles a slurp at a time into your egg and tsuyu mixture.

Samurai Mama: Makato Suzuki's Awesome Second Act