BBE Editor's Pick
231 Franklin St., San Francisco (Hayes Valley)
Gregory Dunmore isn’t Japanese, but at his hip California izakaya and yakitori shop on the edge of Hayes Valley, the former executive chef at Ame presents a carefully crafted, seasonal menu that’s as simpatico with the spirit of Japanese cuisine as any five star kaiseki dinner house in Tokyo. You won’t find any sushi here, but expect lots animal “off” parts (necks, hearts, gizzards, tongue). For those averse to neck, there's a half menu dedicated to chicken-on-a-stick variations. There’s also traditional pub fare: lacy tempura vegetables enlivened by a dunk in the accompanying umami-loaded daikon sauce, and chawanmushi, a savory custard filled with sweet crab and earthy mushrooms that’s comfort food at its best.
The waiters, in black tees imploring “Support Your Local Nojo,” (“farm” in Japanese), dash about the room with Ninja like precision, making sake and microbrew pairings and pointing out the provenance of many ingredients—almost of all of which come from a local or sustainable nojo.
... on the side
Like a true neighborhood pub, much of the seating is communal, both at the long bamboo-topped counter facing the open kitchen, or at the eight-person table in the center at the room. Couples might prefer to hold out for the small tables overlooking busy Franklin St. Reservations are only taken for parties of six or more, but you can call ahead and get your name on the list to shave off waiting time.
chew on this
You might need an interpreter to understand all the different foreign sounding ingredients on the menu. Luckily for you, the waiters actually work double duty as prep cooks. It’s part of the customary practice known as “kibubari”, a Japanese term that loosely translates into “care, consideration and attention”, where everyone in the restaurant is involved in every aspect of the dining experience. So if you’re the kind of guy who doesn’t know his shichimi from his sashimi, rest assured: your waiter will happily sort you out.
Dinner Mon 5:30PM-9:30PM; Wed-Thu 5:30PM-10PM; Fri-Sat 5:30PM-10:30PM; Sun 5PM-9:30PM; Brunch Sat-Sun 11:00AM-2:30PM
$3.60 (chicken thigh skewer) to $15.75 (Lamb Leg, Peas Shoots, Onions & Chile-Sesame Sauce)
231 Franklin St. (at Linden St.), San Francisco, CA 94102; 415-896-4587