For awhile, Viticole Wine founder Brian McClintic MS had been telling me that Yoichis is Santa Barbara’s best restaurant. Finally, I got a chance to dine at this traditional kaiseki-style restaurant from chef Yoichi Kawabata and wife-partner Mogi Kawabata. Kawabata’s resume includes stints at Kenchō-ji temple in Kamamura, a ryokan near Yokohama, and Nobu Tokyo. The couple debuted Yoichi’s in 2015 in a stone-fronted space with 10 tables and a peaked roof on a Santa Barbara side street. Weekend dinner costs $100 per person and involves seven courses, some of which include multiple elements. The menu changes seasonally and 90% of their seafood comes from Tokyo’s Tsukiji Market, which arrives within 24 hours.
Their Mokouzuke (sashimi) course arrived in a blue glass bowl on a black ceramic pedestal in a bamboo basket. The night’s impressive haul included silky salmon (fatty belly up front, back in back), striped jack (belly and back), scored, sliced, snow-white Hokkaido squid (sumi ika). Edible shiso leaf, shiso blossom, and sun daisy joined the delectable presentation.