It's quite amazing when you finally visit a place you have read about for over a year.
It's amazing because your mind has an image of it, and it doesn't always match reality.
My husband and I visited Vancouver a couple years ago and izikaya had really taken off there. I hadn't known or read much about it before that visit, but we went to one place on a recommendation that was out of this world and we saw several other restaurants advertising izikaya.
When we got back to SF, I looked around a bit to see if I could find a restaurant that specialized in it. Read a few posts here and kept hearing about Oyaji.
We even visited O Izikaya a few weeks back, good....but this post isn't about that place.
So, as I was saying I had this image in my mind about Oyaji. I figured it was a place where we must drink alot....and I mean, a lot....and be ready to party. I thought the "old man" would be very old...and very drunk. I thought the place would be a bit dingy. I thought the sushi would be mediocre....and I figured I better be ready to eat offal.
If you have been there, then you know...that this isn't the case.
We did have some to drink, but i would have loved this place even stone cold sober!
We went in and were a few of just the handful of white folk there....always a good sign.
It was packed, families, kids, grandparents, you name it. The atmosphere was great. Clean, lively and fun!
Took a seat at the bar and looked at the sushi chef who must have been "the old man", only to find that he wasn't so old...he was young and quite handsome.
I was happy to start talking with him when I ordered a glass of sake which he said "oh, good one, good choice". I asked him what was good, what we should try.
The sushi was fresh and delicate. Expertly cut. Nice hit of wasabe.
He gave us a couple special pieces, slivers of halibut muscle in a soy sauce with onions. A spicy tuna concoction. Excellent!
We also had a bunch of the izikaya dishes.
We started with the ankimo. One of my favorite dishes in general. This held up.
Wonderful pork belly recommended by someone on this board.
Great beef oyaji. cooked perfect.
Spinach with sesame, as recommended by the chef.
Deep fried eggplant - oily but good.
hmph. i guess no offal.
That means I will have to go back. shoot....
My only regret was not buying the chef a cup of sake, which another patron next to us did. Next time, next time.
How does it compare to the place in Vancouver? Not sure it does. That place was really out of this world...it ws bigger, more upscale, absolutely flawless food. But it didn't have the "old man". Sometimes in life, there are tradeoffs.