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Enjoy Japanese Cuisine at Izakaya Kitaru

The New Izakaya Kitaru Restaurant in Petaluma.

The popular Japanese dining trend continues to surge in Sonoma County, with another notable destination restaurant coming on to the scene this summer. Izakaya Kitaru has opened its doors in Petaluma, in the space that previously was home to Andy’s Sushi and O! Sushi.

Naturally, sushi remains a prime draw, with an extensive selection of nigiri and rolls, plus sashimi in a variety of cuts and platters. Alongside classic rolls like Rainbow and spicy tuna take center stage, aficionados can also dig into signatures like the Tokyo Cowboy of seared beef with tempura green onion and shiitakes, or the Aburi Saba of seared mackerel, tempura scallion, avocado and ginger.

The owner, James, is often on-site, and is eager to suggest exotica like the ankimo (monkfish liver) decorated with shiso leaf, kaiware (radish sprouts) and oroshi (grated daikon radish) for dipping into ponzu. Delicate Chilean sea bass nitsuke is another favorite, dressed in soy, sake and mirin, while ishikari nabe is a hot pot delight of salmon in miso with fresh vegetables like Napa cabbage, mushrooms, soft tofu and snap peas.

For more mainstream diners, Kitaru covers all the bases with good things including pepper steak and rice in a sizzling cast iron pot, grilled miso salmon, and tempura. But as an izakaya, the place focuses more on authentic bites such as gyutan (grilled beef tongue), ika maruyaki (whole grilled squid), chicken curry nabe hot pot, or takoyaki (octopus dumplings).

The mood, too, is true izakaya, with lots of woodwork and wood paneling, and an ambience that can get a bit loud when folks are having fun.

Save some room for dessert, often an oversight in Japanese eateries. Here, it’s the real deal, offering simple ice cream in tasty Asian flavors like red bean, black sesame or green tea.

Details: 212 Western Ave. Petaluma, (707) 789-9068

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