Ippuku: making its debut in the Chronicle’s Top 100 this year. Photo: Laura Morton/SF Chronicle

Alice Waters would rather you didn’t know about it because she loves eating there so much, Alice Medrich is also a fan, and its most well-known dish consists of raw chicken.

And now Ippuku in Berkeley joins the hallowed ranks of the San Francisco Chronicle’s Top 100 restaurants for the first time (published in yesterday’s paper, not yet available online).

Ippuku, which was given three stars by the Chronicle’s food critic and Top 100 compiler Michael Bauer in his October review,  joins four other Berkeley restaurants in the hall of fame — three of which are Top 100 veterans. They are: Chez Panisse/Café at Chez Panisse, O Chamé, Rivoli, and Corso Trattoria. The last two are both run by Wendy Brucker and Roscoe Skipper.

O Chamé on Fourth Street: in the Chronicle’s Top 100 for 2010

Ippuku was opened in 2010 by chef Christian Geiderman whose purist tendencies extend to not serving wine. Instead, the restaurant specializes in shochu, a Japanese spirit, and offers beer.

It also takes an all-embracing approach to chicken. Translated, that means every part of the chicken is served up in some form, be it thigh, skin, liver, gizzard, tail or breast cartilage. And the signature dish mentioned earlier? That would be chicken tartare.

The restaurant is also camera-shy, as one blogger found out when he tried to snap some pics inside the tastefully designed, low-lit eatery.

Noticeable for its absence in the Top 100 is Gather, another relatively new Berkeley restaurant which was admired by Bauer the first time he reviewed it in February 2010. However, on a second visit a year later he seemed a little less enamored.

Update 04.04.11: Twenty-six restaurants that made last year’s list were cut this year, among them Vik’s Chaat Corner in Berkeley. Being cut is not necessarily an indication of declining quality, as Bauer points out in today’s Chronicle. Restaurants are removed because a chef had changed and there is not enough time for an update review; or because they are not quite as good on revisits; or because they are “about as good as  remembered”, he writes. “But in the end it comes comes down to numbers — somebody has to go.”

Are there any other Berkeley restaurants that Berkeleysiders think should have made the cut but didn’t?

Tracey Taylor

Tracey Taylor is co-founder of Berkeleyside and co-founder and editorial director of Cityside, the nonprofit parent to Berkeleyside and The Oaklandside. Before launching Berkeleyside, Tracey wrote for...

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12 Comments

  1. I just don’t see the ‘magic’ in Ajanta, unless it’s changed a lot from several years ago when I stopped going there.

  2. Ippuku provides us fine food. it is real Japanese. However tooooooo pricy, tooooo expensive.
    And, the service is really bad. Too late to serve. Moreover, they directly asked to pay tip more than usual !!

  3. It’s again the same old tired list with the addition of a few (generally expensive) places that are hot this season. I wish Berkeleyside would send out a group of volunteers with educated palates to find the top 20 local restaurants where local people eat delicious food. I am thinking of great, if unpretentious, places such as Venus,
    Tacubaya, Saul’s, Turkish Kitchen and Herbviore, to name a few. BTW, I LOVE your coverage!

  4. I will make my plug for Riva Cucina, wonderful little italian restaurant on Heinz, though i doubt it’s flashy enough to make the list of top 100.

  5. I had lunch at Gather recently, with out of town foodie guests. The local, organic, high-on-vegetarian-and-vegan choices did not have one simple green salad that day. The closest they had was greens with citrus and they agreed to remove the citrus for my friend, sure, but it was just faintly odd to not be able to get a green salad in such a great restaurant. Plus you pay seven or eight bucks for about fifty cents worth of artfully arranged greens, dressed with, what fifty cents worth of seasoning? By the time you extract the citrus, you are paying a lot for very little. It’s fun to go, when someone else is paying, but I don’t get all its raves.

    I agree with another comment suggesting Amber India is consistently overrated (not to mention way way overpriced). Ajanta deserves more recognition but the Chron, we have to remember, is SF based. The fact that Berkeley gets five out of the whole Bay Area is pretty cool.

  6. And overpriced. We went last summer for dessert, waited forever (on a Tuesday) and spent $30 for tiny portions (no coffee, tea or wine), just 4 desserts. They seem a little too impressed with themselves.

    Still a fan of their BLT (trout) sandwich, though.

  7. Ajanta beats Top 100 perennial Amber India by miles and the Chron continues to ignore it. Creative Indian food and a thoughtful wine list

  8. Lalime’s on Gilman Street in our Westbrae district hasn’t yet gotten the critical acclaim it deserves for moving its entire menu up a notch or two over the past year.

    Cursed by a location that’s abandoned by transit in the evening (but blessed by easy parking), Lalime’s is basically an in-town destination restaurant. Even for my wife and me, who live a 30-second stroll away — we can’t get any more “locavore” than that.