Yu Me Ya Sake House
We were driving home from Orange County after a family gathering and decided to check out Yu Me Ya Sake House basd on their solid yelp reviews. This Encinitas restaurant lies along the coast highway in an area with few street lights. Even inside the restaurant, it's quite dark, sort of like a secret sake cave for those in the know. And now we know! There's only room for approximately 20-25 guests in this place so after a 10-15 minute wait, we were led to our seats at the bar.
This restaurant served mainly small dishes, very few sushi items, and plenty of sake. The dutiful plate setting was accented with a bright mini paper crane. We chatted with the gentleman next to us and he recommended a few food items that he had just tried.
Carpaccio (spicy tuna), sushi style, was first on the list. This small plate contained spicy tuna in a crispy wonton shell.
We tore down a wall and suddenly cubes of avocado appeared beneath it! The fresh avocado helped balance out the slight srirachi-ness mixed into the tuna. The wonton was light and crisp and the mayo was simple and unobtrusive. These two pieces were quite tasty and one of our favorite items of the night.
Next we tried the Baked Bay Scallop and Shimeji Mushrooms. These were served piping hot with ample mushroom flavor in the dish. The scallops were very small though, maybe baby scallops if that's a thing. When we found them, they were softer in texture and disappeared too quick. The whole dish seemed to be slightly oily between the mushrooms and sauce.
This Crunchy Roll was not your typical crunchy roll. On the outside there were small pieces of shrimp and sprinkled crunchies, but the inside was filled with green seaweed, giving it a completely different feel! Also on the inside was some type of crunch as well, similar to unbaked panko. The roll came with a dollop of sriracha which was needed. Overall just okay. I like my stuffed crab rolls more.
The Broiled Black Cod with Kyoto Miso flavor came out looking a little charred, but it was more of a blackened skin rather than burnt. The cod itself was very buttery and soft against the crispy skin.
The croquettes had multiple fillings to choose from so we picked the Croquette with Shrimp. This one also came out very hot and tasted a bit like it was stuffed with mashed potatoes plus the addition of shrimp. It was served with a ketchup kind of dip and another dark sauce that was some type of tonkasu type? The execution of a fried mashed potato ball didn't impress me though...
Seeing as we were at a sake house, we had to try something. There were several pages of sake available, either by the glass or bottle. Different tiers of sake were separated by page and ranged between $7-14 per glass. Because we couldn't decide, we asked one of the servers to surprise us, hopefully not in the bill!
The woman serving us described the sake process to us, traditions from her hometown Osaka Japan. We started out with a tall skinny glass over a sauce plate, and she poured it until it overflowed into the bottom plate. Then she instructed us to start drinking without using our hands. Once finished, we'd take the bottom dish as a shot. Since we were a couple, we BOTH had to drink at the same time, still with no hands, then take the shot. What a fun tradition!
The sake was incredibly smooth and was priced at $10.50. She brought us the bottle for pictures as requested but unfortunately we can't read any of the writing... no english anywhere!
In the restaurant itself, there were two very busy servers (sisters) running the front of the restaurant while their parents ran the kitchen. We'd recommend keeping your group small because of the restaurant size. The food came out fast and the sake lesson was an unexpected bonus. Pricewise, it adds up quickly with all the small plates and drinks but if I were to have a sake night, this may be just the place! I hear the sake sampler is worth trying!
Yu Me Ya Sake House
1246 N Coast Hwy 101
Encinitas CA 92024