Asia is known for strange food, and Japan is no exception. Mountain View restaurant Nami Nami has been serving a variety of chinmi—the peculiar small tastes that go with sake—which are rare in Japan and especially rare in America, and deserve the attention of curious eaters.

The recent focus on izakaya, ramen and yakitori has promoted Japanese food beyond sushi. Nami Nami has quietly lead the charge with a unique menu that includes dishes from Kyoto served in an elegant and calm atmosphere.

The restaurant is dimly but tastefully lit, and the conversation ebbs and flows in a pleasant murmur. Prices are high, but reasonable, given the quality of the food and the elegance of the restaurant.

Chinmi is translated loosely as gourmet, but means intense, peculiar tastes. Most of the dishes are viscera, like shuto ($6)—a small pure of a bonito stomach lining—and shiokara ($6)—squid stuffed with part of the stomach of the squid itself. Dishes are salted with specific salts, in order to intensify the taste.

This approach is palatable only by serving very small portions, and drinking heavily. Sake, with its subtle flowery sweetness, can become cloying after a few hours of prolonged indulgence. Some chinmi portions fit at the end of a chopstick. These dishes should interpose between different sakes, and some have specific sake pairings. Konowata ($9), salted sea cucumber viscera, is best eaten with a specific sake.

Japanese relish offhand, understated brilliance, such as Jiro, Tokyos’s Michelin three-star-rated minuscule sushi bar; or exquisite chicken skewers found only in a 15-seat smoky den under a railway station.

Imagine sitting in a bar after a long day, with a few co-workers, having a few rounds of sake. Then you call for the local speciality, something for a quick taste, and the balance of salt and slime cuts through the sake in a single explosive moment. That moment, a moment of insight and clarity, should be unexpected and hard to describe.

Kani miso ($9) is a combination of miso paste and the gray matter of crab. The taste has few comparisons. The base taste is umami, with a soft dirty bite and a feeling of the color green. In keeping with the idea of an unusual taste, it’s not quite like anything else. Karasumi ($10), a dried mullet roe, has a nutty and salty fish taste, as if oysters had been raised in a vat of Gouda cheese.

Chef Kaori Yamaguchi’s egg miso ($6) should not be missed. Organic chicken yolk is marinated with two kinds of miso. She uses white miso for sweetness and red miso for the strong salt taste.

In several days of aging with the egg yolk, the tastes come together as greater than their parts. The white miso draws out the sweetness of yolk, the salt intensifies and the elastic texture keeps the tongue busy. Sous vide yolk has gained in popularity such as Baume’s 62-degree egg, and Manresa’s popular Arp