After DouZen mentioned Ryoko’s, I added it to my list of restaurants to try, so when I found out how close it was to Union Square, I decided that it would be a nice treat to check it out after the Nike group run. Every Nike run feels especially difficult seeing that each course seems to include a fair distance of uphill running, but today’s run was made even more challenging because of the intermittent rain. I can’t believe I agreed to run, but I have to admit I felt very accomplished that I did. Nevertheless, by the end, I was so ready to eat but when Pdho, DouZen, DouZen’s friend, and I arrived at Ryoko’s, we were subjected to almost an hour wait before we were seated. Please forgive the quality of the pictures as they were taken with my iPhone, but surprisingly enough, they didn’t turn out too bad.
I love Chicken Karaage, so I had to order it. Truthfully, I was feeling pretty ravenous by the time it arrived, so I thought it was delicious. The chicken pieces were piping hot and coated in a lighter batter. It was good, but it probably was pretty typical tasting of most good chicken karaage’s that I’ve had.
DouZen kept complimenting on the rolls here, so we went ahead and ordered a handful to share amongst the four of us. In all honesty, we were so hungry that we just wolfed down the food immediately after it came and AFTER Pdho took pictures of everything. It was a little hard to distinguish one roll from the other. However, I do remember liking the Spicy Scallop and Crunchy Crab rolls the best. The Spicy Scallop was not that spicy but it was pretty tasty in spite of the fact that they used shiso leaves in the roll. The Crunchy Crab was made with deep-fried soft shell crab, cucumber and mayo and combined the right balance of texture and flavor which makes for a tasty roll.
The Hot Tail and Spicy Golden Gate rolls were both pretty good as well, but I think they lacked some of the more interesting flavors that the other rolls had. The yellowtail and the salmon in the Hot Tuna roll and Spicy Golden Gate roll, respectively, both tasted a little bit bland. I’m not sure where the spicy sauce was though, because I really didn’t taste much. They both also had shiso which seemed a little more overpowering in these rolls.
The Jumping Unagi roll was a deep-fried roll, and even though I couldn’t distinguish any of the flavors of the BBQ eel or avocado which was supposedly inside the roll, there was something interesting about it. Taste-wise, it was kind of indescribable, so I think the sweet and sour sauce that it came with was indispensable to the whole roll.
Considering all the concern with radiation in Japan, I was a little bit hesitant to order any sushi that was listed on the Specials board as being from Japan. After a bit of discussion with Pdho and in spite of some extreme aversion from DouZen”s friend who took a vacation to SF partly to escape the radiation scare in Tokyo, I ordered the Hamachi Toro anyways. What harm could a little radiation do. Haha! I couldn’t help it! It was quite delicious!
The restaurant looked more like an English pub than Japanese izakaya from the sushi bar (which was elevated like a drinking bar) to the eclectic decorations (which included a random piano which may or may not actually get played anymore). There isn’t a lot of the space in the restaurant and most of the tables seemed set up for small parties which is why our party of 4 had to wait so long. The restaurant actually stays open pretty late, so I guess the whole pub-like ambiance goes along with it.
All in all, the food was pretty tasty and pretty reasonably priced. We were pretty hungry though, so the next time we come back, we’ll plan to come earlier or just order to go. It seems that if you come after 6:30pm, you’re guaranteed to have to wait quite a long time especially if your party is greater than 2.
619 Taylor St
San Francisco, CA 94102
PAFO Ratings for Ryoko’s:
Ambiance 2 stars
Food 3½ stars
Overall rating 3½ stars