Location: San Francisco
Favorite Restaurant: Izakaya Yuzuki
Reviewed Izakaya Yuzuki: Friday, February 1, 2013
As the friendly owner will tell you, Izakaya means “sake house, where you drink and eat and drink more” and Yuzuki means “comfort, healing moon.” This is a place where you relax at the end of a long day and enjoy Japanese fare unlike any you have tasted before. This is attributable to the superb quality of culinary mastery of the chef but also due to the relative rarity of this kind of Japanese food until recently, especially in the Mission District (Nombe being a notable nearby alternative option if Izakaya Yuzuki is too crowded!).
The food is served in concentrated portions of exquisite flavors, from marinated eggplant to creamy pork belly with subtle but sharp wasabi, from sweet seaweed obanzai and sweet potato with black sesame sauce to perfectly crispy tempura with soft, salty smelt inside. Other notable dishes include the squid from Hokkaido (melts in your mouth), anything concocted on a stick (meatballs), the #1 quality Japanese rice (koshihikari) made fresh by the pot, Dungeness crab sunomono (refreshing and zingy), and Kurobuta pork belly (umami savory with a wasabi twist). Dessert is not to be skipped as it is beautiful, delicate, and never cloying.
The establishment is complete with a sake sommelier, who will guide you to the appropriate sake adventure for your taste. You can also opt for excellent Japanese beer on tap, wine, or wonderfully hot Japanese tea. The ambience feels like dining by the moonlit sky, on account of the high ceilings, ethereal lighting, and tall windows. Ordering should pose no challenge as every single item is delicious, but the friendly and attentive wait staff will advise you if the number of dishes is appropriate for your party size, and you can always order more, in the style of a true izakaya. The unique experience leaves you plenty full, but anticipating your return.
Occupation: Children's Librarian
Favorite Restaurant: Maverick
Reviewed Izakaya Yuzuki: Sunday, February 3, 2013
My previous experiences with Japanese food were limited to sushi restaurants, so I was glad to try an “izakaya.” For a party of four, we ordered 15 items for the table and shared, yet I still wasn’t full at the end of the meal. Seasonal claypot vegetable rice for 2 was $15! It was easy to get a reservation for 7pm on a Saturday night, and we were seated immediately, which was expected as several tables were empty. The owners have taken a cavernous space with high ceilings and polished hardwood floors and warmed it by hanging large panels. The tables are spaced enough that I couldn’t hear the diners at the next table, but I also struggled to hear the server when she responded to our questions. The high ceilings make for challenging acoustics.