Sushi Kappo Tamura Open in Eastlake

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"So far, so good."

That's what owner Taichi Kitamura said to me when I got him on the phone a few minutes ago to ask him how things were going with the opening of his new Tamura Sushi Kappo at 2968 Eastlake Avenue East. Everyone knew he was planning on opening a new spot--a kind of Chiso Kappo Mk. II, after he closed the intimate, omakase-only one-man-show he used to run in a second-story space above the original Chiso in Fremont--but what was always kind of up-in-the-air was exactly when he was going to throw wide the doors and start dishing out the good stuff to those who'd been waiting so long.

As things turned out, he opened up on Sunday--just four days ago. And he didn't bother telling anyone about it.

"I mass-emailed all my regulars," he told me. "But that's it." It was a kind of extreme soft-open, a friends and family run-up meant to bring in a high ratio of friendlies to strangers. And with four days in, everything seems to be proceeding smoothly. Everyone thinks so.

Except Kitamura.

"I'm being very frank with you," he said, insisting that he was very pleased with the space, the crew, the crowds and the way his opening went. But Kitamura is a perfectionist. "I feel very insecure about things because every day I see things that need improving."

Which was, of course, why he was in the house when I called, three hours before the fourth dinner hit in the brief history of Tamura, overseeing work in the kitchen and on the floor. Unlike the original Kappo in Fremont (where it was pretty much just Kitamura alone, cooking whatever he felt like cooking for those lucky enough to score one of the few seats available), the space here is much bigger and Kitamura has a crew to back him up. "A big crew this time," he explained, because while the omakase menus are a big part of Tamura's draw, they aren't the only choice. "If people want to come in for a casual sushi dinner, they can. But we also have the omakase, of course."

I wrote briefly about the life and death of the first Kappo in my review of Chiso from a few weeks back, but only touched lightly on it because, being frank as well, I was still kicking myself for missing out on what sounded like a truly extraordinary experience. 10 seats, no menu, just one man on some kind of weird man-alone Lord Jim trip cooking fish for adoring strangers? That's the kind of thing I can truly get behind.

Still, I knew that Kitamura was working on this new space in Eastlake--not trying to capture the strict spirit of the first Kappo, necessarily, but building on what he'd learned there, and the loyal fan base he'd cultivated. And now that he's finally gotten it open, I'm looking forward to the night when, with the crew settled in and Kitamura a bit more at ease, I can roll in and have my own omakase experience, courtesy of the new Tamura crew.

Here's to hoping I won't have to wait too long.

 
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