Izakayas: The New Dining Trend in the Bay Area

Almond Pork Rice Ball

By Skye Morgan Being a new member to the San Francisco community— and a complete foodie at that— my main goal on my time off is to try all the happening restaurants in this incredible food mecca of a city.  One of my several sources to discover these ‘hot-spots’ is the website SF Eater. This is a great reference for newcomers and long-time residents alike!

One of the top ten restaurants on SF Eater’s ‘heat map’ was the restaurant, Nojo, which means farm in Japanese. There’s a reason it was one of the top ten. Not only was the food's authenticity apparent with the oustanding flavors and spices, but the concept of the restaurant was absolutely brilliant. Chef Greg Dunmore wanted to create a similar communal dining environment to the kind he experienced while living in Japan-- an environment where one can truly relax and enjoy oneself. As my waitress pointed out, “you want to drink and you want to eat here!” That’s for sure.

Another element that was impressive was the restaurant’s dedication to local products. All the ingredients come from local farmers and producers. Dunmore goes to the local markets multiple times a week to get the freshest seasonal ingredients for his dishes. Some of the delectable ingredients he is using this season include:  Nameko Mushrooms  Sung Gold and Heirloom Tomatoes and Summer Pole Beans. A new menu is printed out daily.

Although Nojo is a one-of-a-kind restaurant, izakayas are becoming a huge trend in many parts of the country, namely Los Angeles , Portland and New York, as well as now San Francisco. Izakayas are Japanese drinking establishments that have impressive saké and beer menus and serve small Japanese food dishes as well. Izakayas have particularly been a hit in San Francisco. There’s  O Izakaya Lounge, Ki Sushi, Chotto, Sozai Restaurant and Saké Lounge and Oyaji Restaurant- just to name a few. These chic, new restaurants offer an alternative setting where one can enjoy a high-end glass of saké with exceptional yakitori (chicken on a skewer).

These Japanese style tapas are scrumptious and before you know it, you’ve ordered ten of them! Check out a few of the dishes my friends and I devoured:

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Miso Soup
Almond Pork Rice Ball
Almond Pork Rice Ball