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Armando Justo

First Bite: Chotto

Ask the average San Franciscan, “What’s an izakaya?” and bet on a blank stare as your response. The word is about as common as “bar” in Japan, but we’re just starting to crack the surface of the notion around here. In its original form, an izakaya is built around alcohol, consumed ad nauseum, and flanked with the necessary protein-heavy small plates to keep peace. Sure there’s sashimi, but skewered meats are the pulse-quickener: hearts, intestines and even chicken feet often steal the show. The protein-heavy barrage ends with a judicious rice bomb of onigiri. Oyaji and Izakaya Sozai have done this forever in the Richmond. And with the past year’s advent of Berkeley’s Ippuku and the Mission’s Nombe, I’d dare say izakayas are a trend.

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