When I yelped “mentaiko spaghetti”, there were surprisingly few hits that returned, and of those few, I think On the Bridge was the only place that seemed to garner some positive reviews for this spaghetti dish made with cod roe. I’ve actually only had mentaiko spaghetti from two places, Curry House, which is a Japanese franchise with most locations throughout Southern California, and, Cafe Hiro, which is this really cute Japanese place in Cypress that I went to with Pdho and his friends. Although the mentaiko spaghetti is prepared slightly differently at both places, I really enjoyed both of them tremendously. I used to get my fix at the Curry House when Pdho lived in Cupertino, but I’ve been at a loss since he moved.
The restaurant is a small simple looking eatery located literally on the bridge connecting the two sides of the Japan Center in SF’s Japantown. It has some interesting decor that makes you question if you’re in a restaurant or a manga store. The restaurant is narrow but long, so along the back of the bar area, there are a myriad of Japanese stuffed characters like Pochacco, Badtz Maru, and Keroppi sitting along the window sill. Then on the shelves, there sits an extensive collection of manga for diners to read while they eat, I guess. It’s a no frills place, but it seems quite clean and inviting.
The Chicken Karaage was good. The meat was tender and nicely flavored, but the skin wasn’t as crunchy as I would have liked. It surprisingly wasn’t too oily either.
Pdho wanted to order the Beef Curry. I usually tend toward chicken curry, because I usually find the beef is a little dry. The curry was pretty interesting, because it had a sweet yet tangy spiciness to it. It definitely had much more complex mix of spices compared to curry from cubes that Pdho and I have been making at home, but I didn’t like the chunks of beef too much. I”m not sure what it was, because the meat seemed cooked pretty thoroughly so it wasn’t too chewy but it just didn’t taste very flavorful on its own.
I was really looking forward to the Mentaiko Spaghetti. Aside from the slightly overcooked spaghetti noodles, I really enjoyed the strong taste of the cod roe in the sauce. It was much lighter than the mayo-based sauce from Curry House, but it wasn’t as soupy as the on from Cafe Hiro. It wasn’t the best, but it definitely hit the spot and satisfied my craving.
All in all, the restaurant is solid. The food didn’t knock my socks off or anything, but it’s good. I kind of like that they offer a number of pasta dishes prepared the Japanese way which is kind of hard to find in the city. I wouldn’t mind coming back for the mentaiko spaghetti, but I may try making it at home. In fact, after our lunch, we headed on over to the Japanese grocery store so I could buy the ingredients to make it at home.
On the Bridge
1581 Webster St. # 206
San Francisco, CA 94115
PAFO Ratings for On the Bridge:
Ambiance 2 stars
Food 3 stars
Overall rating 3 stars