Rice porridge and okazu buffet at Hakkei

A server inquires about  your preferred rice porridge—white or mixed-grain with sweet potato?—and then you’re unleashed on a buffet counter groaning under the weight of well over a dozen meat, vegetable, fish, tofu and pickle dishes. The flavors are rustic, reflecting Hakkei’s origins in a Japanese hot-spring town, and perfect. Help yourself. Reservations are essential.

1436 Young St., 944-6688. $16.95