Peko-Peko Chef Hosting Pop-Up Izakaya in Berkeley, Might Sell Bentos in S.F. Soon

Berkeley's guerrilla izakaya will be much

Sylvan Mishima Brackett ― former Alice Waters right-hand man, current owner of Peko-Peko Japanese Catering ― is hosting a pop-up izakaya this Sunday Monday, Jan. 18, at Guerrilla Cafe in North Berkeley.

Calling on Brackett's Japanese heritage and two years' experience cooking in a Tokyo-area soba restaurant, Peko-Peko caters izakaya-style meals and sells exquisite bento boxes that John Birdsall has talked up in SFoodie and Alice's daughter, Fanny, has praised on (RIP) Gourmet.com.

With its shoebox size and wraparound counter, Guerrilla Cafe should be the perfect place to recreate that crowded, Sapporo'd-up izakaya feel. However, the small room also means that the dinners sell out fast. Brackett says that he is no longer taking reservations but is leaving half the seats open for walk-ins ― and at his first pop-up izakaya, in early October, 125 diners circulated through the 25-seat cafe.

Brackett has hired a friend who grew up in her grandmother's izakaya to grill the yakitori (Soul Food Farms chicken meatballs, wings, livers, and more esoteric bits). Meanwhile, he'll be cooking dishes like donburi topped with ikura (steelhead roe) and Santa Barbara uni; a crab and watercress salad (the greens come from the stream in back of a friend's house); and petrale sole kara-age. The chef scores the small flatfish to the bone before deep-frying them, and they're meant to be crunched through, head, tail, and all. Prices aren't firmed up yet, but Brackett says they should range from about $2.50 per yakitori skewer to $14 for larger items like the sole.

Oh, and Brackett had one more bit of news regarding his bento business:

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