Peninsula Dining Update: San Mateo's Tabletop Barbecue, Palo Alto's Quick-Freeze Ice Cream
Gyu-Kaku is open in San Mateo, part of a Japan-based franchise that has outlets all over the U.S. and the world. The chain specializes in Korean- and Japanese-influenced barbecue items served tapas-style, and the restaurant's spacious, modern-industrial dining room fits the barbecue theme, with miniature grills on each tabletop. Gyu-Kaku's menu focuses on a diverse array of petite cuts of marinated meat for diners to grill at the table, as well as nonmeat options such as vegetables and butterfish. A small number of salads, soups, bibimbap rice dishes and appetizers like steamed chili dumplings complete the meal. 329 S. Ellsworth Ave., San Mateo; (650) 343-3255.
Mike Koozmin/The S.F. Examiner
It might be the heart of winter, but the Peninsula couldn't be any more excited about ice cream right now. San Francisco's Smitten Ice Cream has opened its new shop in Los Altos. It's attached to the Whole Foods Market on El Camino Real, accessible from both the street and the inside of the store. Smitten's made-to-order ice cream, frozen in minutes by liquid nitrogen, has been one of San Francisco's favorite ice cream spots since Stanford Business School alumna Robyn Goldman started selling her ice cream out of a Radio Flyer wagon in 2009. A half-dozen flavors are on offer at the new location -- you'll always find salted caramel and Tcho Chocolate, along with a monthly flavor, like January's Meyer lemon gingersnap. Top your scoop with a variety of homemade sauces and toppings like salted peanut brittle. 4800 El Camino Real, Los Altos; (650) 559-0100.
Just to the north along El Camino Real, Odori Sushi and Teppanyaki is open in Palo Alto between Stanford and the California Avenue Business District. The restaurant features both a compact dining room and a handsome wooden sushi bar. You'll find many traditional sushi rolls and sashimi on the menu, along with more creative preparations such as raw scallops with a yuzu salsa. There are also udon soups, tonkotsu ramen, teriyaki and grilled teppanyaki-style meats to complement the list of sake and Japanese beers. If you're in an adventurous mood, you can request a "chef creation roll" that isn't listed on the menu and see what the result is. 2107 El Camino Real, Palo Alto; (650) 327-2222