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Nov 11, 2007 10:42 PM

Izakaya at Sebo [San Francisco]

I was happy to learn that Sebo decided to shake things up a bit and offer izakaya on Sundays. While their sushi is fantastic (and served Tues-Sat), they're talented with the stove/grill as well. The menu will be changing weekly and our group of 4 managed to make it through the entire (quite varied) menu. A few homestyle classics were done very well (bitter melon with egg, daikon). And there were a few outstanding dishes including a grilled fish collar, kakuni, and marinated eggplant. At $5-8 per dish, prices are very affordable. I'm looking forward to returning.

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  1. Ooooh, I was hoping someone had made it for the first night. Please say more about the kakuni.

    Here's the emailed menu I rec'd.
    "izakaya sundays starts tonight, the 11th.
    menu highlights:
    kaku-ni simmered pork belly
    goya champuru okinawan style stir fry with bitter melon, tofu bean
    sprouts egg
    nizakana simmered fish heads !
    tamago yaki japanese omelette
    yaki inari grilled inari wrappers stuffed with natto and green onions
    maguro yamakake japanese mountain potato and maguro salad.

    we will also be featuring kamotsuru tokubestsu junmai as one of the
    sakes for the evening.

    we plan on doing this every sunday form here on out. menu changes
    each week, featured sake will
    also change each week. to start we will close at 11:00 pm. if it
    looks like people are interested in hanging out
    we will extend the hours for future sundays."

    15 Replies
    1. re: Melanie Wong

      YESSS, finally a place for goya champuru and other Japanese homestyle dishes in the Bay Area. Thanks for providing the menu and making my mouth water, Melanie. I've been craving goya champuru so much after eating them all summer in Hong Kong and Tokyo. I've never been to Sebo but this really makes me wanna go there some time.

      1. re: Melanie Wong

        How does one join their mailing list? Info please....

          1. re: Wendy_san

            Here you go:

            517 Hayes St, San Francisco, CA 94102

          2. re: K K

            I made it onto their list by going to the restaurant and writing my email address in their guestbook.

            1. re: K K

              Melanie, I'd love to get on to their list as well. Information would be appreciated.

              1. re: osho

                I haven't been to the restaurant yet myself, but have been on Michael Black's mailing list since the time I signed up to get news of Sebo's opening. Unfortunately, i've already discarded the email so can't provide the email address for you to inquire and I don't have it in my address book. Maybe someone else still has it and can post it here.

                The emails aren't that frequent. Most have been announcements of holiday closings. But I do regret not stopping by the night they weren't having sushi and would be serving katsu curry.

                1. re: osho

                  Here's Sebo's email address,

                  1. re: osho

                    Did that work? Just wanted to check, and if so, you'd have rec'd this message today.

                    "hello all!

                    just a quick note to let you know we'll be closed this week,
                    november 20th through the 25th for thanksgiving.
                    we will re-open for dinner on tuesday the 26th.

                    eat lots of turkey!!!


                2. re: Melanie Wong

                  Ooh, local goya champuru! Please, please, please, let them do rafute at some point (Okinawan style pork belly simmered in awamori and black sugar -- see my avatar).

                  1. re: Debbie M

                    Cleaning out my inbox and found an email from Michael Black from 3/15/2006 mentioning that Sebo had some Okinawan specials from time to time including sokibuni. What would that be?

                    1. re: Melanie Wong

                      A search on Google leads to this: "sokibuni" are Okinawan-style braised pork spareribs and they look something like this -
                      They are usually served in a soup called "sokibuni nu shimun", or with soba noodles.

                      I've seen them at restaurants serving Okinawan-style cuisine in Japan and Hong Kong, and they look as if they are braised in the same soy/sugar/rice wine mixture as the pork belly.

                  2. re: Melanie Wong

                    The kakuni is the best version I've had, even compared to the ones I tried in Japan - most are overly seasoned, only to be eaten with rice, or not fatty enough. This version was soft, melty, and perfectly salty-sweet.

                  3. I also made it to the izakaya Sunday. Really nice stuff. The menu changes weekly, but I hope they rotate some dishes so we get to try them again! The selection was better than I was expecting, as there were several dishes that were not announced on the email list.

                    I admit I'm a natto junkie, but the inari yaki (grilled inari with natto, topped with green onion) was really nice-- the grilled inari was just a great flavor complement to the natto. As felice mentioned, the ni-daikon and goya chanpuru were also well done. They also had aji ichiyaboshi, a whole aji, cured, toasted, and butterflied. This was a standout: crispy skin and oily, moist interior.

                    My favorite part was getting to try the two homemade tamago yaki, courtesy of Fukashi Adachi (from Deep Sushi in Noe Valley, who has just this week joined Michael and Danny). These are among the very best in the Bay Area that I've tried; it gives the tamago from Kitsho in Cupertino a run for its money. The regular tamago had a flavor that literally sang of dashi, and a second tamago infused with slivers of the green seaweed ao-nori. The tamago was firm, yet lightly juicy. Totally subtle, complex and a work of art. I'm told the blocks of tamago emerged from cooking in perfect blocks. Apparently we can expect more delicious tamago in the future.

                    It was really full, as the restaurant was slammed with business from the very beginning of the night, but I expect things will smooth out in upcoming weeks. All in all, this is a great, much needed, addition to the SF Japanese dining scene. I'm really looking forward to returning on future Sundays. Now, we just need to figure out a way to keep Sebo open on Mondays, as well. =)

                    I posted a somewhat fuller review, along with several pictures, on my blog:


                    1. Does anyone know if they are still doing Izakaya Sundays at Sebo, and if so, how late they serve? Domo!

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: coolbean98

                        Yes, Sundays are still devoted to izakaya. I'd advise signing up for the email list as notifications of closings are not that infrequent. I was there last month and left the place after 10pm, and some folks at the bar were still being served.

                        1. re: Melanie Wong

                          As I understand it, the izakaya runs to about 11 pm, slightly later than the usual closing time on the nights they serve sushi.


                        With the news that Sebo will be closing its doors after service tonight, I guess this will be my last post about the Sunday izakaya fare. What turns out to be my final visit was in June with my mom and brother. Here’s what we tried:

                        Furofuki Daikon, $5 – Juicy and perfectly simmered-till-tender cylindrical blocks of daikon topped with meaty minced pork sauce flavored with homey-tasting miso and dashi. One of our favorites of the night.

                        Wafu toast, $5 – Thick slices similar to Texas toast spread with a thin layer of umami richness and topped with toasted nori. Not crazy about this.

                        Chashu pork belly, $10 – A pair of slabs of rolled fatty pork belly including the tender and highly seasoned rind punctuated by a refreshing salad of finely shaved sweet white onion and kaiware dressed with a bit of the braising liquid and vinegar. William felt the meat was a bit brittle in spots; I wanted to order a second one.

                        Mentaiko gohan, $7 – Mound of chile-spiced cod roe over steamy white rice plus a dab of fresh wasabi for another kind of zip and a flurry of shredded nori.

                        Hamachi kama, $14 – Huge and very meaty portion, delicious once we knocked off most of the char and blended with succulent fatty flesh with grated daikon, negi and sauce.

                        Buta kimchi, $8 – Slivers of pork belly stir-fried with polite and mild Japanese kimchi and silky lengths of scallion.

                        Sake carpaccio, $7 – Not a typical offering on izakaya Sundays, but Michael Black said he could not pass up a deal on an excellent slab of salmon belly. Precisely trimmed to preserve the silvery brilliance of the argenteum, then coiled just so for the reflective iridiocytes to mirror the white striping of the fatty belly and the translucent shimmer of the pickled white onions. Piquant slivers of Fresno chile, fragrant fresh mint, briny capers, and a fresh tang of lemon highlighted the buttery, rich fish. Can’t imagine a more elegant or delicious dish for the price.

                        Ankimo, $10 – Also not typical on izakaya nights. Rich with orange-colored fat, house-cured monfish liver served unsauced with just a small amount of fresh grated wasabi root, daikon threads, negi, and a lemon slice. William said this was the first time the comparing ankimo to foie gras made sense to him. Our run-away favorite in a night of stars.

                        In other visits, when the ramen trend or the newest bincho grill would come up in conversation, Black would comment on what he would do if he were running one of those establishments. Thinking back on those now, maybe this was a foreshadowing of what’s to come. I’m looking forward to wherever he leads us next.

                        More dinner photos:

                        Previous post on Sebo izakaya,

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: Melanie Wong

                          When I talked to the hostess after I found out they were closing, she said that Michael Black had been casually talking about perhaps opening a place with a different concept. I didn't ask her to elaborate, but my first guess would be that it would be a less expensive, izakaya/ramen type joint like you suggest. She stressed that he was going to take a decent break, though.

                          I also look forward to his latest establishment.

                          As a footnote, I dined there on Friday, and the wait for food was astonishing. It took us almost three hours for 19 pieces per person of (very excellent) sushi. We understood that it was their last weekend, and a lot of their regulars were showing up to say goodbye and all, and they did give comp us a lot of alcohol to make up for it. Overall we enjoyed ourselves, but I think I finally understand some of those negative Yelp reviews. Well, no matter now.

                          1. re: dunstable

                            Lucky you to get in there one last time!

                            Given the soaring prices for sushi fish, the difficulty of sourcing and trend to more casual eateries, I'm sure the next venture will be something less expensive. Black has such great range as a chef. Maybe Okinawan. Stewy/homestyle dishes that take less ala minute prep. It's fun to speculate, isn't it?