Monday, December 12, 2011

Good Eats SF: Izakaya Sozai

Just when you think you can't eat any more food, here's some good eats I had on a recent trip to San Francisco!

In the mood for some Japanese small plates and ramen? Then head to Izakaya Sozai!

My sister introduced me to this place, saying it's one of her "go to" restaurants that she takes her San Francisco guests. And now I know why. Sozai is a tiny restaurant of maybe 10 tables and bar seating open to the kitchen. By my sister's recommendation, our eating plan was (every good meal starts out with a plan doesn't it?) a few izakaya (or small plates) followed by a steaming bowl of their house special ritsu tonkotsu ramen. We kept an eye out on the menu for any starred (*) items which were considered house specialties.

We ordered some naughty buta kakuni (braised pork belly) that was so fatty and delicious and came with a super hot wasabi mustard. I probably ate more than my polite share but no one fought me with their chopsticks so you snooze, you lose.

Then was the hamanchi carpaccio in a miso vinaigrette to offset the fattiness left on our tongues.

Bacon-wrapped mochi yaki tori? Sure. It tastes how it sounds - bacon over chewy rice ball mochis.

And some special duck yaki tori. Despite being on the daily specials board, I wasn't that impressed. However I was also distracted by the ramen that was coming my way.

For those of you not familiar with tonkotsu ramen, it's a cloudy, white, almost milky broth made from cooking pork bones for hours. And it's heavenly (if you like pork). Having claimed my favorite ramen to be from the Japanese chain Ippudo in New York, I was skeptical. In fact, very skeptical. But I was not disappointed with Sozai's verison at all.

The ritsu tonkotsu was milky and rich with lots of complex flavor and seasoned with black pepper and fresh scallions. Also in the ramen was a large sheet of nori (dry seaweed), boiled egg, and a few slides of pork.

After all that, could we eat some more? Yes. For dessert, the waitress recommended mini green tea pancakes filled with red bean filling a la mode. Surprising, I did fit this one last little sweet bite in my belly.
Watch out because the place can have long waits so get there early / late or make a reservation. All in all it was a great meal. Casual but delectable Japanese food in a comfy, cozy atmosphere which is just what I needed on such a cold San Francisco night. Thanks, sis!

Izakaya Sozai
In Sunset
1500 Irving Street
San Francisco, CA 94122


lavenderpug said...

sounds amazingly delicious and i want some ramen STAT.

Jessica said...

I'm glad you put descriptions of the food because I want it all! Pork belly? Yes please.

BigAppleNosh said...

Omggggg I want all of it.