Nabe

Khanh Nguyen

Nabe

By Sean Timberlake

Fight the foggy, chilly San Francisco evenings by indulging in Japanese stews known as nabemono. Sibling restaurateurs Hilwin and Hubert Wong showcase these comforting hot pots at Nabe in the Inner Sunset. The concise menu tempts with starters like petite house-made gyoza, stuffed with soft Kurobuta pork and fried crisp on the bottom, or frank-like sausages with crisp skins. The main event brings cast iron pots of broth with vegetables and meats set to boil on induction plates right on the table. Combos include whisper-thin slices of Kurobuta pork belly or Wagyu beef, to cook with a few swipes in a kimchi broth with fat cubes of mochi; or kamonanban, meaty slices of duck breast in a dashi broth with soba, enoki mushrooms, shiitake, and shunngiku, a pungent green. To finish, the staff lovingly stirs rice into the leftover broth, making zosui, a porridge-like soup that absorbs the flavors. Far from an afterthought, it’s the highlight of the meal—a real umami bomb. The menu of crisp wines and delicate sakes complements the hot pots, but be sure to try a glass of fruity nigori with the zosui.

... on the side

eye for design
Designer Alan Tse envisioned the entire facade as a wall of glass with lighting that cantilevers out from the dining room out over the sidewalk, drawing the eye in from afar. Chalkboard-dark walls are peppered with etched-wood casks housing premium sake bottles signed by loyal customers.

beans to spill
A former flight attendant for Cathay Pacific Airlines, co-owner Hilwin Wong would make frequent hops to Japan during three-day layovers in Hong Kong. It was there that she discovered the tradition of nabemono. By observing and asking questions, she learned the secrets, including how to make the perfect zosui.

bonus round
Can’t finish that zosui at the end of the meal? Don’t leave it behind—it makes a fabulous breakfast the next morning with a poached egg.

decibels
Medium

hours

lunch Thu–Sun 11:30 AM–3 PM
dinner: Sun–Thu 5 PM–10 PM; Fri–Sat 5 PM–10:30 PM

price range

$19 to $29
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