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Japantown roundup

  • Windy May 1, 2011 09:12 AM
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I usually stick to the same few places at Japantown (Mifune, Takara, and lately Sushi AKA Tombo, with an occasional detour up to Fraiche for yogurt). But two weeks at film festival gave me a little extra motivation to try something else between movies.

Most successful: nabeyaki ubon at Bushi-Tei Bistro. Delicious and reasonably priced at $10.95. Great broth, lots of chicken and vegetables, enough for leftovers. Bushi-Tei Bistro has a weird menu, everything from garlic bread to sushi and ramen.

What else is good here? The kitchen is also fast, despite the size of the place, so handy if you're on your way to a movie.

Happy hour at Miyako Restaurant was a mixed bag. Okay beef short ribs, salad comprised of tons of dressing on top of only the white part of iceberg lettuce. Respectable California roll. Not greasy but not very flavorful tempura. Cheap, but sometimes you get what you pay for.

Dolsot bibimbap at New Korea House was so so. Pan chan wasn't bad; good kim chee and a bowl of broth was delicious. But bulgogi was overdone, they used overcooked button mushrooms, and rice was too wet, so it barely got any crunch from the bottom of the bowl. Service was unusually friendly; at some point I realized everyone was Japanese. Has this gone through a change of ownership?

Stopped in for my annual okonomiyak fix at Izumiya. Service was lackluster as always; despite the restaurant being empty, they stashed me in an uncomfortable corner. Fried shrimp were a waste of calories. But I do like their okonomiyaki: mushy and crispy at all the same time, alternating chunks of shredded cabbage and seafood. Anyone got a better/friendlier place for this dish?

Brought in mochi from various sources. Benkyodo's are still the best especially the ones wrapped in leaves and the fluffy pink ones.

Finally Kobe beef hot dogs in the Kabuki's Balcony bar get an enthusiastic thumbs up. Too bad they don't have condiments besides mustard and ketchup. The bartender warned me popcorn was $1 cheaper downstairs. And I really liked the terribly named Cupcake sparkling pinot noir from France; added to the Swedish comedy about terrorist drummers.

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New Korea House
1620 Post St, San Francisco, CA 94115

Benkyodo
1747 Buchanan St, San Francisco, CA

Miyako Restaurant Yakitori
1707 Buchanan St, San Francisco, CA 94115

Bushi-Tei Bistro
1581 Webster St, San Francisco, CA

Izumiya
1581 Webster St Ste 270, San Francisco, CA 94115

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  1. I was checking out the menu at Bushi-Tei Bistro the other evening, and noticed it is quite a grab bag. The pictures look good, but that's no guarantee, so it's nice to know it's worth checking out.

    Unfortunately, I didn't know about the Kobe dogs, so I had to settle for popcorn as my dinner at the terrorist drummer comedy!

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    Bushi-Tei Bistro
    1581 Webster St, San Francisco, CA

    3 Replies
    1. re: Debbie M

      The dogs are a good deal for movie theater prices: ~$6. Just found the last of the mochi kebabs in the bottom of my backpack.

      BTW has anyone tried Sweet Maple on Sutter? That was recommended for pre-Kabuki brunch.

      1. re: Windy

        I thought Sweet Maple was pretty good, nice selection of various eggs benedicts. The poached eggs and hollandaise were spot on and the roasted potatoes were nicely done. Not much of a line at all either.

        The ramen at Bushi Tei Bistro wasn't very good for me.

        1. re: DezzerSF

          Thanks Dezzer, will check it out.

    2. It's unfortunate Japantown doesn't have better food options. I lived in the neighborhood for 4 years and was always underwhelmed by the lunch and dinner options. I unfortunately never had a chance to try Bushi-Tei Bistro, although I did like the main restaurant (although it is pretty pricey).

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      Bushi-Tei Bistro
      1581 Webster St, San Francisco, CA

      1. I haven't been to Takara since....2003/2004? Must have been before the Sho Chiku Bai sake company sold the business, and when Yuki-san was still at the bar. I miss live from the tank spot prawn sushi... Kansai style sukiyaki (where they grill the meat first by tableside then dunk the veg and pour the sauce in) etc. I'm assuming these are no longer offered....

        So what is good these days at Takara?

        3 Replies
        1. re: K K

          I've been for sushi a few times, although not in the past year, and the quality was still good. But no live prawns. And I remember liking their chawan mushi.

          Time for another visit. I'll report back.

          1. re: Windy

            I haven't been there in a few years, but their chawan mushi used to be awesome.

          2. re: K K

            Takara was my go-to place in Japantown when I spent a lot of time in SF back in 2007-2010. Liked their bento boxes which are of high quality. Norimakis, tempura moriawase, grilled unagi and udon were all very reasonably priced & good.

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            Takara Restaurant
            22 Peace Plz Ste 505, San Francisco, CA 94115

          3. Have you tried the stews at New Korea House? I've never been and I'm wondering how it would compare to Doobu, which usually works in a pinch for my soondubu fix.

            Surprised Ino Sushi hasn't been mentioned.

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            New Korea House
            1620 Post St, San Francisco, CA 94115

            Ino Sushi
            22 Peace Plz # 510, San Francisco, CA

            Doobu
            1723 Buchanan St, San Francisco, CA 94115

            3 Replies
            1. re: DezzerSF

              I don't like Ino, and wouldn't return there. Unwelcoming service from multiple family members, and I didn't eat anything exceptional enough to put up with that. But this post was about quick eats during the film festival, so Ino wouldn't really qualify because of their hours.

              I wasn't unimpressed enough with the pan chan at Doobu to go back a second time. What do you like there? The price is right. I usually get tofu stew in the Richmond (To Hyang or Muguboka), or on Telegraph in Oakland.

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              Ino Sushi
              22 Peace Plz # 510, San Francisco, CA

              Doobu
              1723 Buchanan St, San Francisco, CA 94115

              1. re: Windy

                I usually stick with the kimchi soondubu, the panchan probably isn't as plentiful as My Tofu House, but they do give you a fried fish, unlike most places. I do find it's hit or miss though on the quality.

                I might try the kimchi chigae at New Korea House, as I haven't found a good version in the City besides Hanuri in the Richmond.

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                Hanuri
                4217 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94118

                My Tofu House
                4627 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94118

                1. re: DezzerSF

                  Thanks! Those all sound great.

                  Something about Korean food--reading about it makes me crave it.

            2. I love the zaru soba at Iroha (the place that's upstairs from the video store, across the way from Benkyodo), but I haven't been there in a while. Warm weather forecast for this week, it might be time to go back...

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              Iroha
              1728 Buchanan St, San Francisco, CA 94115

              1. How's the Shandong place, San Wang?

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                San Wang Restaurant
                1682 Post St, San Francisco, CA 94115

                4 Replies
                1. re: DezzerSF

                  - good for generous portions of Sauteed Chinese Greens, Mushroom-Bamboo Shoots-Pea Sprouts, Dry-Fried Green Bean, Eggplant with Garlic Sauce, Dry-Fried Eggplant, Stir Fry Pea Sprouts, Steamed Fish, Hot Braised Fish, San Wang Clams, Dry-Fried Chicken, Dry-Fried Oysters, Hand Pulled Noodles, crunchy fried goodness of whole flounder.

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                  San Wang Restaurant
                  1682 Post St, San Francisco, CA 94115

                  1. re: Cynsa

                    I went there with a group that included kids and had decent, standard "Chinese." A table next to us had more like the dishes described above. They looked very good.

                    1. re: Cynsa

                      Thanks Cynsa. How are the chicken wings compared to San Tung/SO?

                      1. re: DezzerSF

                        at least on par; perhaps a tad better - larger portion? we'll need a side-by-side taste-off