Once upon a time, my blog bore the tagline “Cultivating Convivial Consumption.” It ended up getting scrapped because after surveying a random sampling of everyone I knew or met in line at St. Cupcake, it became apparent that no one knew what it meant. What I was trying to say was that the blog promoted amicable, collaborative, social eating experiences. Convivial Consumption.

How is it that Biwa has found the elusive and sought after Secret of Happiness?

My point? Well, Convivial Consumption as I intended it is alive and well at Biwa. Everyone eating there is sharing their food with friends, their chatter creating a low hum that fills the restaurant, and everyone is happy. How is it that Biwa has found the elusive and sought after Secret of Happiness?

It could be the grilled skewers dripping with savory juices, deep bowls of handmade crab miso soup that floods your mouth with umami, crisp daikon radish salad with black sesame dressing, tangy sour kimchi and vegetable-studded griddle cakes— each dish pops with new flavors just when you thought they simply had to be fresh out of new flavors.

Or, it might be the painstakingly-assembled and most excellent wine and sake selection, or maybe it’s the all-night-at-the-bar happy hour, or maybe it’s that when you get your bill, even if you’ve convivially consumed so much food you feel your barstool sinking in the middle, your bill is $30.

“Happiness, how’d you get to be happiness?” Goldfrapp wants to know. Biwa, that’s how!


Cuisine: Japanese

Executive Chef: Gabe Rosen

Sous Chef: John Pickett:

Chef de Cuisine: Ed Ross

Atmosphere: Industrial décor with exposed ceiling and concrete floor, big street level windows, happy buzz filling the restaurant

Outdoor seating: A smattering of sidewalk tables outside the front door

Best Seat: The bar if you're feeling lively/social, a table for two if you're feeling romanticky

Noise Level: Boisterous in a non-obnoxious way, because everyone at Biwa is happy

Dress Code: Casual

Bathrooms: Get the key (by the door) and head out into the hallway and to your right. Don’t forget the key when you leave or you’ll be put on a skewer and roasted.

Parking: Free and easy to find

Cocktails: Inventive cocktails $7-$10, full bar, great shochu list

Beer: Sapporo on draft + several bottled beers $3-$18

Wine: Simple and precisely chosen, French-heavy, bottles $29-$87, glasses $6-$10

Sake: Extensive saké list by the glass, tokkuri (5 oz sake flask) & masu, $6-$28. Have been meaning to order the canned sake described as crazy, gigantic and smelly, I'll keep you posted.

Corkage: $12

Teetotalers: Housemade sodas: ume, black pepper, ginger, fennel

Tea: Hojicha

Ideal Meal: Green tea soba, Kimchi chijimi, (yakitori) skewers, crab miso, daikon salad

Vegetarian Friendly: See below

Vegan Friendly: Very, the menu pinpoints each dish that can be made vegetarian or vegan at your request, which is roughly half the dishes on the menu

Good for the following occasions: Casual Date, Out With Friends, Nightcap

Group/Private Party Details: There is a section of the dining room that can accommodate larger parties, call to make reservations or for more information, An 18% gratuity is added to parties over 6 and Biwa asks that a maximum of three credit cards be used to pay the bill.

Reservations: Yes, for parties of 6 or more

Take-Out: No

Delivery: No

Deals: The Chef's choice prix fixe dinner is a steal at $35, with optional $25 beverage pairing.