Chawan mushi isn't an item you'll see listed on every Japanese menu, but hounds clamor to mention that several area restaurants serve memorable versions of this savory custard dish. It can be served hot or cold, and for devotees the silky texture and the flavors of soy, mirin, and dashi make this a dish worth seeking out.
escargot3 first tasted chawan mushi in the Japantown mall at Takara, which has made a name for its chicken and mushroom version. rubadubgdub's favorites are a Dungeness crab custard at Nojo and an "absolutely delicious" cool version with uni at Mission Chinese Food. pauliface says that Izakaya Yuzuki makes a great chawan mushi, while drewskiSF helpfully points out that vegans need not despair: Cha-Ya serves a no-egg tofu version (called "Moon Garden" on the menu).
Honorary San Franciscan grayelf adds that if you are lucky, you might find a gingko nut lurking beneath the placid golden surface of your chawan mushi. But those who find themselves in front of a teacup of warm custard on a blustery day might already feel very lucky indeed.
22 Peace Plaza, Suite 505, San Francisco
Nojo [Hayes Valley]
231 Franklin Street, San Francisco
Mission Chinese Food [Mission District]
2234 Mission Street, San Francisco
Izakaya Yuzuki [Mission District]
598 Guerrero Street, San Francisco
Cha-Ya [Mission District]
762 Valencia Street, San Francisco
Discuss: Chawan Mushi at Takara