It is no secret that I love traveling to Japan, especially because there’s always been the best foodie things to do in Tokyo and beyond. So, it’s always great when I’m home in California to be able to hit up Japanese restaurants in San Francisco and pretend (at least for an hour or two) that I am back in the Asian country that makes my taste buds tingle.
An easy way to find authentic Japanese restaurants in my area is through Taste of Japan. It’s the website to go to for just about anything Japanese food related: cuisine information, restaurants, recipes, and where to find authentic Japanese ingredients.
Whether you want to dine out or in, Taste of Japan, can pinpoint the best restaurants in your area, or give you authentic Japanese recipes and point you in the direction of hard to find ingredients. They have a real passion for showcasing Japanese food to an international audience—and it is sticking too! Japanese food is becoming more and more popular with each passing day. It is healthy and so incredibly diverse, that there really is something for every taste bud.
5 Must-Do Japanese Restaurant Food Experiences in San Francisco
Even if you can’t make it to the small Asian island today, you can still have bucket list worthy Japanese culinary experiences in San Francisco. Here are just a few I found using the Taste of Japan website.
1. Indulge in a Japanese Tasting Menu
There is so much more to Japanese food then just sushi. With a tasting menu chefs incorporate a multitude of Japanese flavors in one sitting which can include everything from grilled Octopus to a seaweed soup. Hitachino Beer & Waygu is becoming well known in San Francisco for their 11-course Japanese tasting menu which centers around succulent Waygu Beef dishes (and beer!). There is an excellent on-site brewery to delight in, and imported namesake sake too. All 11 courses were fabulous, but my favorite dish on the tasting menu was the short rib with chrysanthemum, kimchi and ginko nut.
2. Try a Sushi Burrito
Sushi Burritos are the things that dreams are made and Sushirrito in San Francisco have revolutionized traditional bite-sized sushi pieces into hand-held meals. Just like traditional sushi, they are made to order from a fresh selection of ingredients. One of the favorites is the Sumo Crunch; it has Shrimp Tempura, Surimi Crab, Cucumber, Ginger, Red Tempura Flakes, and Sriracha Aioli. Yum!
3. Eat at a Ramen Shop
Raman is not just for College kids in Japan, rather it is a staple of their diet. Japanese soldiers brought the dish back from China following World War 2, and the people of Japan have since given it their own Japanese flair. Typically, the dish consists of wheat-noodles, soy sauce, miso, seaweed, egg and other veg or meat. It can be found in mom and pop shops, and road side stands throughout the country. In San Francisco a couple of the best Raman places are Hinodeya (they even have a vegan ramen!) and Fumi for an Indian, Japanese fusion dish.
4. Dine at a Izakaya
Izakaya’s, informal gastropubs are iconic in Japan. They are the countries go-to places for after work socializing, tasty bites, and adult beverages. Dishes are typically designed to be shared and most menus consist of items such as edamame, meat and vegetable skewers (kushiyaki), and sashimi.
In San Francisco, Pabu and Rintaro have both flawlessly recreated traditional and modern Izakayas dishes. Pabu is more upsale and modern, while Rintaro retains its downhome roots. They each have inexhaustible wine, beer, and sake lists.
5. Indulge at a Japanese Sweets Bar
Japanese sweets are unlike their American counterpart. Many are glutinous and made with rice flour, or red kidney beans. They lack the same level of sweetness, however, they remain equally (if not more!) tasty.
To indulge yourself, try Minamoto Kitchoan. They have been serving traditional, imported Japanese sweets and their signature Wagashi in pretty little packages for years. Remember to pair your treat with a steaming cup of green tea for a perfect combo!
These 5 must-do Japanese restaurant experiences in San Francisco are a great place to start your love affair with authentic Japanese food, and drink! If you are not from San Francisco, use Taste of Japan to find similar Japanese restaurant experiences near your own hometown.
Kanpai! (That’s Japanese for Cheers!)
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