When it comes to his two favorite things in life, chef Joseph Manzare has ruined himself. “Once you have good sushi, you can’t go back,” he says. Manzare would say the same about tequila. His new Union Square restaurant, Hecho—an improbable yet surprisingly synergetic concept that brings together tequila and sushi—is something Manzare’s been dreaming up for years. If it seems unlikely, consider that whiskey and sushi are a common pairing in Japan.
A few years ago, nobody around here knew what an izakaya was. The Japanese word literally means "sitting in a sake shop," but it's evolved to encompasses all manner of casual Japanese eating and drinking establishment. Now San Francisco has been hit with a slew of izakayas in the past year or two. We've got Nombe, Nojo, Hecho and Chotto. All of them have simply grilled, seasoned meats that are served on skewers; some have traditional sushi as well. There's also a sustainably minded izakaya called Ki on the way in the Mission. And Sebo, a sushi spot that's long been devoted to the highest quality raw fish, has recently expanded its menu to include cooked items, making it more of an izakaya-type hangout.
So by now, even those who don't have a clue what "izakaya" means, have probably eaten at one. We sat down with two of our city's successful Japanese chefs, Hiro Sone of Ame and Mari Takahashi of Nombe, for a long-overdue schooling in all things izakaya. Here you'll get the male and female perspective on what it all means.
I was lucky enough to go on a trip to Tokyo with Joseph a couple years back and I’ve never seen a guy from the Bronx (and Joseph is indeed that guy) with such an undying passion for something about as far away from his Italian-American roots you can fathom.
Yesterday, chef Joseph Manzare of Globe, Zuppa, Joey & Eddy's and Tres Agaves made public his latest restaurant venture: A meeting of the most brilliant minds, so to speak, it's going to be a highend sushi and robata restaurant with a touch of Mexican (a chile here, a pour of nice tequila there kind of thing). The name is Hecho, which means "made" in Spanish—a nod to the fact that his oldest son Max was "made in Mexico," if you know what I mean. Manzare will be opening the restaurant at the beginning of next year sometime, along with his longtime friend and former Spago co-worker, chef Naoki Uchiyama.