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Where to find Japanese takeout in Sonoma County

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This is the happiest news I’ve seen in a while: “Take out is available! Please visit our new site for ordering, at sushikoshotogo.com.”

Sushi Kosho owner Jake Rand posted the message in April, promoting his Japanese restaurant at the Barlow in Sebastopol, after being shuttered for nearly a month following the pandemic-mandated restaurant shutdown.

I hadn’t really thought Kosho would join the takeout trend, considering Rand’s commitment to such premium ingredients and meticulous presentation.

After all, I had awarded his restaurant four stars in my February 21 review this winter, the highest rating given by this newspaper and one I have bestowed upon only one other restaurant in the past five years.

In general, I don’t think of high-end Japanese cuisine for takeout, since the pristine food needs to be prepared to order, and part of the pleasure is savoring the delicate foods in a fine setting.

But these times force innovation, and it’s a nice surprise to see that we can still savor excellent sushi, piping hot udon and crispy tonkatsu at home.

Polish up your chopsticks for some of my top picks.

Sushi Kosho

Chef Rand is seeing “fantastic” response to his take-out offerings and is keeping a positive outlook for the future. “We have been able to bring back 50% of our work force so far and hope to add more back as business levels allow,” he said.

After starting with a limited to-go menu, he recently expanded the selections, now covering about 80% of his previous sit-down menu. Then he added a la carte sushi ordering on May 23. It’s taken some juggling for timing in the kitchen, he noted, since none of his dishes are pre-made.

“It was challenging because we make all orders a la minute (as they are ordered), so sometimes when we are at out busiest, people end up waiting for bit,” he said. His new website, created for takeout orders (sushikoshotogo.com/s/order) cautions that customers should factor in about 30 minutes for finished food.

The menu is updated daily, since Rand gets his premium fish from far-flung places like Japan and New Zealand. But diners can count on his bestselling chirashi of chef’s choice sashimi scattered with pickles and crunchy cucumber over ginger-flecked rice, served with miso soup bobbing with shimeji mushrooms, green onion, delicate nori ribbons and tofu ($32).

Specialty rolls are other favorites, such as the #7 of spicy tuna, avocado and cucumber rolled in tempura crunches and topped with jalapeño, cilantro and finely diced vegetables ($14) or the machi-bon, bringing orbs of sweet snow crab wrapped in yellowtail and dotted with salty, golden tobiko for dipping in slightly sweet sesame soy ($13).

Round out the feast with crispy pork belly draped in tongue-tingling kimchee ($9), karaage fried chicken with spicy aioli and pickles ($13) and a to-go bottle of sake or wine.

Details: 6750 McKinley Ave., Sebastopol, 707-827-6373, sushikoshotogo.com. Service 1-8 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday.

Hana Japanese Restaurant

Chef-owner Ken Tominaga is local royalty for his training in his hometown Tokyo and his silky fresh fish imported from Japan.

He updated his menu in mid-April for takeout dishes (find it on facebook.com/Hana-Japanese-Restaurant) and has introduced specials like a katsu curry rice bowl, plus sake and wine at 50% off.

The Makimono Deluxe Platter seems like a splurge at $60, but it easily feeds two to three diners, and compared to ordering the sushi a la carte, it’s actually a bargain.

The mouthwatering array includes a Ken’s Roll of prawn tempura, spicy tuna, avocado, pine nuts and shichimi citrus-ginger-pepper ($20 a la carte), an Ebiten 2000 Roll of prawn tempura and avocado topped with creamy crab salad ($20), a daily changing mystery roll (MP), an Alaska roll of salmon and avocado ($10) and a Hawaiian roll of tuna and avocado ($12).

I also crave the maitake tempura of locally-grown mushrooms in feather-light homemade batter ($12), the Jidori teriyaki dinner of grilled Fulton Valley organic free-range chicken in earthy red wine teriyaki glaze with miso soup and rice ($22) and the slurpable tempura udon with vegetables and prawn ($15).

Just get home as quick as you can so the tempura stays crispy.

Details: 101 Golf Course Drive, Rohnert Park, 707-586-0270, hanajapanese.com. Service 4-8 p.m. Monday-Saturday.

Ume Japanese Bistro

For 15 years, this cozy gem has welcomed guests for signatures like hamachi kama of succulent grilled yellowtail collar drizzled in ponzu sauce ($15.50) and lightly-battered fried prawns dressed in Japanese honey mayo served with miso soup, salad and rice ($18.95).

Now, you call in or order at kelly@umebistro.com and pick up curbside. Tip: email your order before 2 p.m. and enjoy a 15% discount on food and 25% off sakes, beers and wines; choose your pickup time from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Some of my top picks include the luxurious ahi topped in pop-on-your-tongue tobiko with a touch of ponzu, sesame oil and Japanese seven-spice ($15.50); juicy, steamed prawn dumplings ($12.50) and crispy tonkatsu bathed in tangy citrus sauce ($16.50).

Owner Kelly Shu also caters to vegetarians as well, with a lengthy menu featuring stars like grilled enoki mushroom nigiri ($4.95), a steamed asparagus sushi roll dotted in sesame ($6.50) and an excellent dish of silk tofu braised with eggs and butter sauce then grilled crisp-edged on a hot iron platter ($15.50).

Little ones can enjoy a special supper, too. Bento box options include a combo of miso soup, fried vegetable-mashed potato croquette and lemon chicken or grilled teriyaki steak ($11.50).

Details: 8710 Old Redwood Highway, Windsor, 707-838-6700, umebistro.com. Service 4:30-8:30 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday.

Carey Sweet is a Sebastopol-based food and restaurant writer. Read her restaurant reviews every other week in Sonoma Life. Contact her at carey@careysweet.com.

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