The name of Keisuke Kobayashi’s Wallingford cafe (in the former home of Asian-fusion restaurant Joule) is a play on words and numbers: 4649, when pronounced in Japanese, sounds like the word “yoroshiku,” commonly used in gracious greetings.
One does feel welcomed in this friendly, informal spot, which opened in 2012 and specializes in the cookery of Kobayashi’s native Sapporo, Japan. No sushi or teriyaki, but a focus on tasty yakitori (grilled kebabs) that can be flavorfully mixed and matched with cold and warm appetizers and some appealing regional specialties, all good for sharing. Want to wash it down with sake? There’s an assortment of brands available.
The menu: The yakitori is prominent and various. Grilled skewers of chicken, pork, beef, veggies and rice are options, with your choice of sauces, marinades or spice rubs ($1.50-$4/skewer). Other menu items include Okonomi Yaki grilled, savory pancakes ($13-$19), interesting salads ($5-$11), a fried-chicken appetizer ($10) and avocado tempura ($6), all fresh and nicely seasoned. Vegetables are used liberally, and a vegetarian can eat well.
What to write home about: The Okonomi Yaki, a delicious, crusty edged savory pancake made from a batter of flour, egg, tofu, cabbage and picked ginger. The seafood version ($16) with shrimp, scallops and squid was terrific. The chicken yakitori sauced with Yuzu citrus butter ($2.45) was outstanding, as was the beef skewer with daikon and ponzu sauce ($2.95). We also loved the generous half-size ramen salad ($8) with greens, other veggies, pork shreds, cold noodles in a tangy sesame vinaigrette.
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What to skip: The greasy asparagus wrapped in bacon yakitori ($3) sounded better than it tasted.
The setting: Small storefront cafe in the heart of Wallingford with a back bar, simply furnished with small tables and pleasant (though it can get noisy).
Summing up: A ramen half-size salad ($8), an order of Zangi fried chicken ($10), four skewers of yakitori ($11.50) and a seafood Yaki ($16) made a light but satisfying dinner for three, and came to $45.50 before tax and tip.