Most-Bang-for-Your-Buck Japanese Restaurant

B-Dama

If you were to judge izakaya based on its Bay Area representation, you might conclude that it's one of the most rarefied of high-end cuisines, accessible on the regular only to the One Percent — special-occasion-only for everyone else. But according to Chikara Ono, chef at Piedmont Avenue's B-Dama, in Japan izakayas occupy a very different place in the culinary landscape: They're working-class watering holes, where anyone ought to be able to afford to grab a meal while throwing back a few sakes. At B-Dama, most items on the menu are less than $9, and the yakitori skewers all cost $3.50 or less. Our favorites are some of the restaurant's cold preps: the aemono and sunomono, plus some unusual salads. But the best thing is that, at these prices, you can afford to be more daring when you order — even if you hit the (very) occasional dud, it won't be a big loss.

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