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  • Napa Valley Marketplace Magazine

Miminashi - Napa’s First Izakaya-Style Restaurant

What better place to celebrate the birthdays of two good friends than with a wonderful dinner soon after the opening of Miminashi? Our good friend, Kass Simon, and Dorothy celebrate their birthday one day apart. To celebrate, they chose to experience Miminashi and allowed Don Simon, John and our friend, Lauren Ackerman, to tag along.

The front door of Miminashi provides an exciting, new feel to the previous, somewhat nondescript, Coombs Street! The entry is so fascinating that we stopped to take a selfie! Walking through the very–cool, hand–carved, wood entrance and opening the most-unique door immediately alerts you that you are entering a very hip environment, thanks to designer Michael McDermott. It was a Monday night, but we entered a room rockin’ full of patrons of all ages and the smell of fabulous Japanese Yakitori being cooked on an open grill. In the center of the room, diners surrounded the large, open bar. Everyone was obviously having fun and, as we began eating our dinner, we knew why!

Miminashi has a fusion feel, sleek, natural-wood appointments, clean and comfortable private booths with high backs where you can carry on a real conversation through dinner. The décor and architecture is very unique for Napa, complete with intricate wood-ceilings and cut-out lighting that seem representative of Buddhist and Shinto Temples. Of course, both Kass and Dorothy loved those! In fact, we all did!

We are so happy for Chef/Owner, Curtis Di Fede, whose cooking we have always loved because opening Miminashi is fulfilling a dream for him. Curtis must have a Japanese soul because his research and expertise in Japanese cuisine and culture is spot on. For the locals, Curtis has previously been at some of Napa’s best restaurants; plying his talents at Terra in St. Helena, Oenotri in Napa and at Wagamama in London. Miminashi is Curtis’s inventive presentation of Japanese cuisine, with a California/Napa take. In a word, it is terrific.

Also enjoying dinner in the restaurant that evening were our pals Tracy Schuler and Susie Heller. Susie and Curtis have collaborated, along with several amazing chefs, on a new iPhone App called Feast, which is a collection of recipes and shopping lists that you can enjoy at home. If you enjoy cooking, give it a try!

Miminashi’s menu features Japanese pub–food, including noodles, rice dishes, yakitori and, our favorite, the best Porterhouse steak, smothered in green–garlic, kinome butter ($65) that was shared by all of us. In fact, we shared all of the dishes that we tried. The Porterhouse steak was the largest item and satisfied five of us easily. Our server was one of our local favorites, Jorge Adame, who is always lots of fun. Jorge helped us make our way through the menu with ease and it was great for us to see a familiar face at our table.

Curtis is a master at choosing the perfect staff for Miminashi, including general manager, Octavio Barrera, wine director, Jessica Pinzon, and bar director, Andrew Salazar.

We began our dining celebration by ordering a bottle of Poe Pinot Noir ($45) and shared a wonderful, small plate of shaved cabbage, shiso, charred ginger and puffed rice ($10). We also ordered the roasted beets, carrots, sugar snap-peas, citrus and radish-mitsuba relish ($12.50) and the Bichotan, roasted asparagus, Tokyo negi, black garlic, fried egg and bonito ($13). The dishes are filling and, again, in sharing among five people, it was fun to match notes on what everyone liked best. Just to try a little of everything, we also enjoyed the Satter Farms, Chicken Gyoza, with toasted sesame, garlic, ginger and sake ($11) and the Sake Lees Marinated Black Cod with Dashi, garlic, chili, spring onion and radish ($24).

Miminashi’s Beverage menu is extensive, offering unique cocktails such as Oshidori, which is made with Ford’s gin, Carpano Bianco, golden beet, switchel, lemon, and ginger beer ($11); the Oscar Foxtrot, made with Old Forester Signature Bourbon, Mezcal Vago Elote, shichimi, Buddha’s hand bitters ($12) and Shinigami Eyes, made with Nikka Coffee Grain, Alvesar Amontilado, preserved apple-shrub, lemon, egg white, and a blend of bitters ($14). These are definitely not the typical bar drinks you are going to find in Napa!

Miminashi has several unique beers as well, starting with Asahi Super Dry draft ($6), Lagunitas IPA 12 oz. bottle ($5) and Orion, 633ml bottle ($10). Sparkling wines by the glass or bottle are also available, along with an interesting assortment of white and red wines from all over the world and, of course, one of the best sake menus ever.

Jessica Pinzon, Miminashi’s Sommelier, was trained by the Thomas Keller Group and really knows her stuff. She has made the menu easy to read and describes the wines in particular detail and comments on their flavor. If you are looking for great bar drinks, Miminashi has a full bar-menu as well as Japanese spirits.

Since this was the dual-birthday celebration, Jorge talked us into the Japanese soft-serve ice cream. He suggested we try the Black Sesame and the Green Tea ice creams served in a house–made, waffle-cone bowl ($7). We chose to top our two, soft–serve, ice cream bowls with tempura crispies, sesame honeycomb and caramelized, white-chocolate miso. We ate the waffle cones too!

Curtis Di Fede’s trips to Japan paid off, and from what we experienced, he is going to have great success. We think that is wonderful since he is such a great guy; hard working, a spectacular chef, and a huge addition to downtown Napa and Coombs Street.

All Miminashi ingredients are locally-sourced and fresh and, we predict you will love the food, the ambiance, the atmosphere and the friendly, upbeat service. Miminashi is not your typical Japanese restaurant! Enjoy!

821 Coombs Street, Napa | (707) 254-9464 |

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