Domo Arigato


Welcome inside Hayes Valley's newest restaurant.
photo courtesy of Domo

I went to Domo last Saturday (that gloriously warm day), expecting to wait for one of the 18 seats—but because many city-dwellers were delirious from sunshine and an afternoon of rosé and cold beer, we breezed right in. I went with a friend who lives in the East Bay. It’s been a while since she spent time in Hayes Valley and was surprised to see how much has happened there. Well, a few years makes a world of difference. Now there’s Miette, Stacks and Boulangerie Bay Bread; Essencia, Bar Jules and now, around the corner, Domo, the latest project from Luke and Kitty Sung (Isa) and partner/chef (and Luke’s high school buddy) Kuo Hwa.

Departing from the small-plates French formula that made Isa so popular, Domo is (as the name suggests) a Japanese restaurant, designed by Michael Brennan. Its tiny wood-paneled interior resembles a sauna, and the five seats at the sushi bar put you in extremely close proximity to the chefs. Says Kuo Hwa, “I guess I’m trying to give people in this neighborhood what they want, and also bring people what I love, all of my favorite things. This is an interesting part of town—the Caucasian people here love uni.”

Though they’ve only been opened a few weeks, Taiwan-born Kuo Hwa also reports that the neighbors have been incredibly welcoming “I just feel comfortable here.” We felt pretty comfortable, too, sitting on stools gazing out on Laguna street, eating super-fresh nigiri and a special of “firecracker balls,” tempura-fried spicy tuna rolls topped with zippy Sriracha mayonnaise. Go pay them a visit, soon, so you can tell all of your friends that you knew them when.
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