Here’s a wonderful restaurant in the Mission District of San Francisco you should check out: Nombe, a Japanese izakaya, has just opened on Mission Street at 21st. An izakaya is a Japanese drinking place where food (small plates to be shared among friends) is served alongside drinks (at least more substantial food than in a bar). The irony about my visit to Nombe with friends two weeks ago is that they had not yet received their liquor license so the food was the central point of the visit, not the drinks. But we did not care. The food was very delicious. We were instructed to buy alcohol at a liquor store a few doors down.
Nombe’s menu has innovative and unusual dishes such as:
- Pork belly with shichimi togarashi
- Black cod with spinach, fennel, leek, and miso
- Potatoes with wild nori, ponzu and scallion
- Yuzu pickled daikon
The menu is divided among House Plates, Agemono (fried dishes), Yakimono (grilled dishes), Salads, Rice/Miso/Pickles, and Desserts. The most impressive plates were the desserts: the warm kabocha mochi cake with toasted almonds (soft but not too mushy; luscious and slightly sweet) and the azuki bean ice cream with banana caramel (the caramel was divine). They have specials every evening listed on a board and these are usually the raw fish dishes, also very good, and noodle soups. The prices are kind to the budget. For four hungry persons (2 of whom were guys) we spent $77 (no alcohol).
Nombe is not a fancy restaurant but it is modern and airy with high ceilings (which on cold days is a challenge to heat), with a bit of the industrial look. The service is attentive but not obtrusive. I am sure it will be livelier when they get their liquor license and can match the drinks with the food.