After watching Quidam, we headed over to Izakaya Sozai in the Sunset for dinner. The restaurant is quite small and located on a pretty quiet strip of Irving St, but once you stepped inside, it was quite bustling. We were quite hungry when we arrived, so once we got seated, we ordered a variety of different small plates to share.
This was definitely one of my favorite dishes of the night. The spicy tuna was quite tasty and was perfectly complemented by the crispy texture of the rice cake upon which it was served. I would have liked to have two orders of this if I could.
As Pdho ALWAYS says, “Everything tastes good with bacon,” and that was perfectly true when it came to both of these dishes. The Bacon-wrapped mochi was good, but probably more chewy than crispy which is what I would have preferred. I think the similar dish from Chotto was better, but I think it’s a nice contrast of textures which I find quite creative. The Bacon-wrapped Enoki mushrooms were better. I just love Enoki Mushrooms.
The meal was balanced out nicely with some greens. Both the edamame and brussels sprouts were prepared with somewhat non-traditional flavors which were okay, but I wouldn’t say these preparations were quite as successful. The garlic soy flavoring seemed a little bit too strong and completely overpowered the taste of the edamame. The miso pesto sauce was kind of interesting, but I think it ended up being a little too salty for my liking. Neither dish was bad, but I think they just tried to do too much with it.
The Tonkatsu Kushiage was essentially deep-fried pork on a stick, and although it sounds rather uninteresting, it tasted rather good. The pork was flavorful and the batter was light and not at all oily which is what I would have expected. Not a bad choice from the kushiage menu.
The Chicken Wings weren’t battered and fried like I was expecting them to be, but they were still quite tasty, nonetheless. The sauce was slightly sweet but richly flavorful. They don’t have anything on San Tung’s chicken wings, but they were still pretty solid.
The ramen from Izakaya Sozai has been mentioned in various lists I’ve seen for the best ramen in SF, and people were raving about it on Yelp. Of course, I had to give it a try to see for myself how it fairs against my other favorite ramen houses. The Ritsu Tonkatsu ramen was made with a pork-based broth which was quite rich and flavorful but maybe a tad bit on the salty side. The chasu pork was nice and fatty, and the ramen noodles were firm and chewy. Overall, it was a very tasty bowl of ramen.
The desserts were okay, but I was so full by this point, I didn’t really eat much of them. I remember them being fine, but nothing extremely palate-rocking to write home about…
Overall, the company was excellent and the food was tasty. It’s a nice little izakaya that gives off a more traditional vibe than some of the other izakayas I’ve visited recently. The food is solid, but we didn’t order anything too out of the ordinary, so I’d be curious to go back and order some other different dishes off i’s pretty varied menu.
1500 Irving St
San Francisco, CA 94122
PAFO Ratings for Izakaya Sozai:
Price 2 stars
Ambiance 3 stars
Food 3 ½ stars
Overall rating 3 ½ stars