Founded by Shoichi Imanaka, whose family owned restaurants in Kyoto and Osaka, Isobune still uses those old family recipes at its Japantown location. Though the decor of exposed wood beams, white walls, and red and white lanterns is simple, the dining experience is nothing less than entertaining. Instead of taking orders from a menu, this restaurant encourages a more random meal at its oval sushi bar, where food-bearing boats travel along the bar in a miniature water canal. Begin lunch or dinner with sake and miso soup or seaweed salad; then, as the boats float by with plates of salmon sashimi, noodle dishes, crab salad, and numerous maki rolls and cones, diners grab whichever they please. Waiters total the price based on each plate's colored rim.
Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.