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Izakaya Sundays at Sebo

November 12, 2007

Well over a year ago, I wrote a post on a then recently-opened Japanese restaurant (primarily sushi-focused), Sebo in Hayes Valley. I haven’t had the chance to write a follow-up review, but I’m happy to report that an update has not really been necessary, as chefs Michael Black and Danny Dunham continue to offer excellent quality fish; in time, it seems they have been able to source more frequently particularly delectable items such as Hokkaido uni. In the past week, though, changes have been afoot at Sebo, and these changes warrant an update. The first notable change is that Fukashi Adachi from Deep Sushi in outer Noe Valley has joined the ranks. The other notable change is that the restaurant is now open on Sundays (previously only open Tuesday through Saturday). On Sundays, however, no sushi is served. As proof, here is the empty fish cabinet:

sebo2_no_fish.jpg

Instead, the regular menu is replaced by a list of about 15 izakaya small plates — essentially Japanese “bar bites.” The Sunday izakaya menu will change weekly, and yesterday was the very first Sunday serving. (Note: full-sized versions of all these images are stored on my Flickr account. To see the larger version, just click through any image link.)

The first plate was the delicately flavored ni-daikon,

sebo2_daikon.jpg

which was the daikon simmered in sake. There was also the goya chanpuru, a stir fry of Okinawan bittermelon:

sebo2_goya_chanpuru.jpg

One standout item was the aji ichiyaboshi,

sebo2_aji_ichiyaboshi.jpg

a whole horse mackerel fish: cured, toasted, butterflied, and mostly completely edible. Toasting amplified the natural flavors of the fish, and the thin, crisp skin was a nice foil to the moist interior flesh. Another standout dish was the inari yaki:

sebo2_inari_natto.jpg

The inari wrappers were filled with natto (fermented soybeans), grilled, and topped with green onion. Even if you are squeamish about eating natto, I would recommend trying this dish, as the grilled wrapper was a really nice complement to the more pungent natto.

One of the great highlights of the meal was the homemade tamago yaki (Japanese egg omelette). Most sushi restaurants will serve tamago nigiri, but this can often be lackluster. The process of making the omelette is so time-consuming that few restaurants will make it in-house, so was a real treat to try not one but two homemade tamago samples at the Sunday izakaya meal, courtesy of Fukashi Adachi:

sebo2_tamago_blocks.jpg

These blocks of tamago are a work of art, as I am told that they emerged from cooking exactly in the perfect form you see in the above picture. The block on the left is an omelette infused with slivers of the green seaweed ao-nori, while the flavor of the block on the right literally sang of dashi. Both samples were delicious, complex, and had a very nice texture: firm, but with a latent juiciness. This is easily some of the best tamago currently being served in the Bay Area. Here is a close-up shot of the ao-nori tamago:

sebo2_ao-nori_tamago.jpg

And once more, the tamago, but served on a plate:

sebo2_tamago.jpg

Yesterday was the very first izakaya Sunday and the restaurant was, rather surprisingly, packed for much of the night, so the cooking pace was rather frantic. However, I am sure that Michael, Danny, and Fukashi will work out the operational acrobatics in time. Even on this first day, the dishes were really nice, so I am looking forward to seeing this new tradition evolve and mature. With the izakaya Sundays, Michael and Danny have continued to demonstrate their passion for serving their customers a serious, high-quality product.

RATING:

COST:

517 Hayes Street (between Octavia St. and Laguna St.)
San Francisco, CA 94102
Phone: 415.864.2122
Hours: Tues-Sat (sushi menu), 6:00-10:30 pm; Sun (izakaya menu, no sushi), 6:00-11:00 pm.

Cuisine: Japanese
Neighborhood: Hayes Valley/Civic Center

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6 comments

  1. I have no sense of scale – those tamagos look HUGE!!


  2. Yeah, they were. They didn’t seem to have them on the main menu, either, so I’m not sure people at the tables realized they were even there, so they didn’t disappear as quickly as I thought they would, and I was even sitting there for a few hours. As for the scale: if I remember correctly, they were about 1 inch tall, and as for length/width, maybe about the size of two medium-sized hands, placed side by side.


  3. Welcome back!


  4. I am glad to see you posting on Short Exact again! I forgot to check up on you, to make sure you are doing well this year. šŸ˜‰ Keep your chin up, you’ll do great! And you can celebrate afterwards by going out for a great meal.


  5. Thanks Chubbypanda and PE, nice to be back. Err… and thanks for reminding me to post again šŸ˜‰


  6. Hello sir, I was wondering if you were trying any other food places around the Tenderloin! Also too, do you know Taste Tests? I think I told you before, but she goes to school with you!



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