Ian Filippini’s Review of Yoichi Santa Barbara

     Ian Filippini Reviews Yoichi
     A Japanese restaurant named as Yoichi’s serving traditional Kaiseki cuisine, Sushi and Sahimi was inaugaurated at 230 East Victoria St. After the former Spiritland Bistro underwent a remodel in a stylish but minimalistic manner, the owners have served their seven-course, $85 menu from the very beginning, diversifying it every month.
     The hours of the eatery are from 5-10pm Tuesday to Sunday. Although Santa Barbara supports numerous restaurants for a relatively small-sized town and are a leading name as far as farm-to-table menus are concerned, it is very difficult to succeed when the focus is on a specialized niche of ethnic food. The restaurant specializes in Nigiri sushi and sashimi.
      The owner chef Yoichi Kawabata has over two decades of specialized experience in Kaiseki cuisine in both Japan and America. Kawabata opines that the most sophisticated form of Japanese cuisine is Kaiseki, which are traditional multi-course meals made from scratch by highly skilled chefs in innovative ways to increase their actual flavor. Kaiseki cuisine reflects the seasons. The ingredients and flatware undergo careful selection to signify the times of the year. It originated in the 16th century and initiated with Sen no Rikyu, the leading tea ceremony. Kaiseki can be enjoyed with sake and as a part of a formal tea ceremony. Simple cooking, involving conventional techniques bring out the actual flavors of the dishes. The sequence of the dishes are perfectly synchronized that reflects the Japanese tea ceremony. The cuisine is served on ceramic plates exclusive to the restaurant.
    Yoichi is a test for the Santa Barbara dining scene. Are the people mature enough as far as the tastes are concerned and comfortable with the costs to regularly sample this exclusive cuisine? Can the small town support the niche cuisine that’s usually the forte of much bigger cities? The early signs definitely point to the right direction.