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Restaurants & Bars 6

SF Izakaya - Oyaji

Bryan Harrell | Jan 26, 200510:48 AM

I've been to Oyaji, the mostly izakaya-style Japanese restaurant on Clement at 32nd, twice now; once on the 22nd of December and again on the 22nd of January. I was amazed at the number of authentic izakaya-style dishes the first time, while my daughter and I were astonished at the authenticity and great taste (these are somewhat mutually exclusive)of the ramen. She ate most of it, while I and two others concentrated on things like ankimo (fish liver), shishamo (small grilled fish to be eaten whole), shiokara (salt-pickled squid entrails) and the like, all in very small dishes for just a few dollars each. Just like Japan, but maybe even cheaper. They had an impressive sake selection, too, but no unpasteurized sake, which is a shame because True Sake, a retailer on Hayes, always has them in stock at good prices (not much more than 25% over what one pays in Japan).

On the second visit, we got in at about 5:30 and sat at the sushi bar. The sushi was superb, right down to the stellar uni and live scallop. The highlight was a large portion of chawanmushi (savory steamed egg custard) for just $3.50. Everything was great, until it started getting crowded and the kitchen had a complete meltdown. Suddenly, things we ordered stopped coming, and the oyaji (grumpy old man) owner had to go back into the kitchen and sort things out, which left only one sushi chef at the bar. An order for sake was delayed over 20 minutes, and we were so late in getting out of the place that we missed getting into the play we were going to downtown.

Has anyone had that kind of experience at Oyaji?

In any case, the food is great, the prices are low, and the atmosphere is virtually identical to such a place in Japan. My advice so far is to get there as early as possible, and be sure to get out before it gets crowded. Conversely, I wonder if a late visit would work?

On Clement between 32nd and 33rd Ave.


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