Hours: Tue.-Fri. 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m., Mon.-Sat. 5-10 p.m.
Abura-ya, whose name means “oil shop” in Japanese, is a pop-up restaurant that specializes in Japanese-style fried chicken, aka karaage. As with any proper pop-up, the cooks make the most of a jury-rigged kitchen setup, and the menu, by necessity, is limited — karaage, grilled rice balls, and maybe a dozen izakaya-style side dishes. Most likely you’ve come for the twice-fried chicken, which is moist and flavorful, with a thin exterior crust that maintains its crunch even after being drenched in sauce. But Abura-ya might also be the most vegetarian-friendly fried chicken shop in the Bay Area, offering vegan “drumsticks” (made with soy protein), organic extra-firm tofu, and zucchini — all prepared karaage-style. Even more impressive is the quality of the vegetables in the side dishes, including a simple, sublime avocado salad served with a bracing wasabi vinaigrette.
Abura-ya is an ongoing pop-up at Garden House.