This puts that traveling gnome to shame: the custom-engraved bottle of Herradura reposado tequila that was awarded to Nojo, one of 7x7's Best New Restaurants of 2011, at our awards party last Monday—and which was "somehow taken" off the premises without the recipient's knowledge—has mysteriously turned up at the restaurant today!
One day I will write a juicy, tell-all story about how hard it is to open a restaurant in San Francisco. You don't have to know how to manage a floor or how to cook. You have to be a field and track Olympian in long distance fundraising, red-tape relays, permit hurdling, and PG&E pole vaulting.
"Hold the onions."
"Can you put the Bernaise on the side?"
"Can I add pork instead of chicken?"
Servers field special requests daily. Most diners don't feel totally comfortable asking. How do you know when you're crossing the line? And how do chefs really feel about making all these exceptions? There's only one way to find out. Ask them.
When is it OK to make special requests? When is it asking too much?
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.