Story By: Elizabeth Smith // Photos By: Bob McClenahan
Created for Locals by Locals
One of downtown Napa’s most popular restaurants, Eiko’s Modern Japanese Cuisine, would not be the success it is today without its longtime culinary team – executive chef Tateki Noma, lead sushi chefs Arnold Romero, Jose Sanchez, and Heriberto Orozco; sushi chef Angel Ramirez; and lead line cooks David Hernandez, Victor Sanchez, and David Gonzales. Sanchez and Hernandez have worked at Eiko’s for 11 years. Together with general manager Darren Orr, bar manager Kayla Gurrola, and familiar faces like Rhonda, Ivan, Dougie, Phoebe, and Christian, restaurateur Allison Hallum has assembled a dream team. “Our team is the backbone of our business, and the consistency and quality are all because of them. We are created for locals by locals. When you walk into Eiko’s, you feel like family,” said Hallum.
This sense of belonging and community among both the staff and guests inspires Hallum and her team as Eiko’s enters its twelfth year in business. Napa Valley Life Magazine readers repeatedly honor the restaurant as one of the area’s best Asian, sushi, and seafood restaurants in its Annual Best of Napa Valley Readers’ Choice Awards. There is no better way to celebrate Eiko’s than with its locals’ happy hour from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. daily. It is the place to be at the end of a workday, either seated inside at the bustling bar or outside in the extended patio section enjoying the mild weather and the vibrant energy of downtown Napa. With upbeat music playing in the background, happy hour goers – mostly locals – enjoy beer, wine, sake, and well drink specials paired with creative appetizers. Favorites include the sushi rolls (avocado, veggie, California, Poki, Sanchez, and spicy tuna), tempura green bean fries, tempura shishito peppers, 15-spice crispy spare ribs with hoisin barbecue sauce, tacos Japonais, fried gyoza (pork or shrimp dumplings), and the Miyagi oysters. One must also try the spicy and savory Hamachi jalapeño sashimi with an off-dry sparkling wine like Prosecco. Chef Tateki updates specials seasonally, but favorites like the ribs and signature rolls will remain.
The staff’s favorite on the lunch and dinner menu is the Tsunami roll with its fried scallops topped with seared jalapeños and “a spicy aioli that makes you want to lick the plate,” shared Hallum. Popular among guests are the Hawaiian poke bowls and lunch Bento Boxes. Another not-to-be-missed menu item is the Seared Royal Sweet scallops entrée prepared with lemongrass-infused oil, accompanied by ginger-cured green beans and shitake mushrooms, then smothered with coconut lemongrass sauce. An ideal wine pairing is one of Eiko’s Sauvignon Blanc selections or sake.
Some may believe it is a challenge to adjust Japanese cuisine to special diets like gluten-free, keto, or vegan, but at Eiko’s, there is something for everyone. “We can accommodate the pickiest of eaters, the littlest of eaters, and everything in between. We want everyone to have a wonderful experience,” confirmed Hallum.
Eiko’s is open for indoor and outdoor dining daily from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. with carryout available.
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