Sunday, August 7, 2011

First Taste of B-Dama, New Izakaya on Piedmont Ave.

By John Birdsall
Sun, Aug 7, 2011 at 9:28 AM

Owners of Geta, the kiosk-size sushi bar just off Piedmont Ave., opened the doors to their izakaya last last month. B-Dama is in the old Messob Ethopian space at 4301A Piedmont Avenue, in the block anchored by Adesso.

B-Dama (Japanese for “marble,” as in the kids’ toy) offers a few Geta-style maki and other sushi bones tossed to non-izakaya diners, but the heart of the menu is kushiyaki, skewered and grilled meats and vegetables.

Star dish: beef tataki, cold slices of shin with vinegared onions.
  • John Birdsall
  • Star dish: beef tataki, cold slices of shin with vinegared onions.

You order via paper checklist and mini pencil. I stopped in last week for a first taste — negima, bits of moist, plush chicken breast with lengths of scallion; momo, chicken thigh; butabara, chewy squares of pork belly; and crisp, nearly raw shishito peppers. You specify whether you want them salted, or sauced with soy and mirin. The kitchen happened to be out of hatsu, chicken heart.

The yakitori has pretty good credentials (the kitchen sources Petaluma Poultry’s Rocky Jr. and organic Rosie birds), there’s a fairly short but nicely rounded beer and sake menu, plus Sapporo on tap, available by the pitcher. Also: a supplementary food menu with lots of potential for exploaration, including nimono (braised dishes) of beef tongue and tendon, a cold beef tongue aemono with red miso, and half a dozen sunomono, vinegared bits ranging from boiled chicken to deep-fried pork.

I tried that last one, actually, called butananban. It turned out to be a carefully fanned pile of tangy, escabeche-like pork slices (from the loin, I think), with a subtly flocked texture from the breading. A dish the kitchen sent out as a little gift turned out to be the best of the night: beef tataki, cold, finely marbled slices that seemed to be from the shin, arranged over a little pile of sliced white onion, leached of heat and dressed with soy and vinegar.

It was a promising taste of sake-soaked meals to come, once B-Dama gets fully on its feet. Hours are Weds.-Mon. 5-10 p.m., closed Tues. The phone is 510-420-1578.

Get in touch at, and follow me on Twitter @John_Birdsall.

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