High on Izakayas

“We only have two izakaya in the city: O Izakaya, which is close to me in Japantown, and Sozai,” says CarrieWas218. After trying Sozai for the first time recently, she wished it hadn’t taken her so long.

In keeping with its izakaya status—it is, after all, a drinking place—you can order a sampler of distinct and enticing sakes. “The Yuki no Bosha was the smoothest and easiest one to get in trouble with,” Carrie says.

Slow-cooked pork belly shichimi (a potent Japanese spice mixture) is out of this world: “tender and rich and very, very satisfying.” The yakitori (grilled skewered meat) is also good, with offerings ranging from chicken gizzards, heart, and thigh to meatballs. Grilled eggplant has a caramelized exterior and a succulent, creamy interior.

Sushi is only available on certain nights, and it’s not cut perfectly enough for the persnickety, but it’s fresh and good. Top-notch oysters come with an innovative touch: a side of ponzu granita. Sake goes well with dessert too, like superbly decadent chocolate ginger cake with berry sauce, and green tea tiramisu.

Cozy up to the owner and you might get an off-menu special: squid brains in a sauce of fermented squid entrails. The squid is tender, but the sauce is a bit overpowering, Carrie reports.

Examiner.com reports that the chefs of Sozai and O Izakaya are teaming up to open Nombe Restaurant, an 80-plus seat eatery in the Mission with an “extensive, seasonal izakaya menu.”

Sozai Restaurant [Sunset]
1500 Irving Street, San Francisco

Board Link: Sozai

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