Uptown’s Itani Ramen (1736 Telegraph Ave.) recently overhauled its dinner service, abandoning the counter for a full-service, izakaya experience. That comes with a slightly redesigned space and new menu, focusing on Japanese small plates in addition to its usual ramen fleet.
New items include an excellent giant squid, which is flown in from Japan, bathed in ginger, and grilled whole; a charming arrangement of tangy cucumbers and funky kimchi; and wrap-your-own spicy tuna hand rolls, jazzed up with wakame. There are also a few new rice bowls (chicken katsu with cabbage, spicy mustard, and half an egg, for example) for those looking for a bulkier option that’s not ramen. Don't worry: you can still order gyoza loaded with bonito flakes and those addictively crispy pig ears, too.
Owner Kyle Itani said he wanted to make dinner feel more relaxed and social — a full liquor license, which Itani just applied for, should help with that. Up next is a plan to turn the private dining room in the back into a swanky lounge.