Douzen introduced Pdho and I to Izakaya Roku awhile back, but I never got around to writing about it. I’ve actually come back quite a couple of times since, and the food has always been very good even when the menu has undergone some change over that time.
The Salmon Carpaccio was good, but it was probably my least favorite only because the it paled in comparison to every other dish of the meal which were all totally punching with flavor. The slices of salmon were of a good size, but I think the garnishes of green onions, red onions and fish roe were a little bit confusing to the palate.
One of the mainstays that we consistently order each time is one of Pdho’s favorites, Mochi Bacon. He basically loves anything that says, “oink,” but I have to agree that these porky morsels are quite tasty. After biting into the outer layer of crispy bacon, you encounter the mochi’s chewiness, and the saltiness of the bacon was perfectly balanced against the neutral canvas of the mochi. The dish was truly an interesting contrast of textures and flavors.
I’ve forgone the Chicken Karaage in favor of the Chicken Nanban here, because the chicken tastes so much juicier and with the tangy tartar sauce, this dish ends up being much more satisfying to the taste buds.
The Mentai Kinoko Pizza is hands down, one of the most interesting dishes I’ve encountered at any Japanese izakaya. It represents the perfect tasting Japa-Italian culinary offspring. I love the delicious toppings combination of mentaiko, Japanese Kinoko mushrooms, onions and shredding seaweed. It’s very rich and creamy probably because of the Kewpee mayo-based sauce that is used in place of tomato sauce and cheese, but I really like this dish. I highly recommend ordering it.
The Okinomayaki is actually not even on the menu anymore. I don’t know if it is because no one orders it or because it takes longer to prepare, but I think it is slowly fading. Luckily, we asked about it and they said they could still prepare it. Similar to the Mentai Kinoko Pizza, the combination of ingredients used to fill the pancake are so packed with flavor. This is definitely my second favorite dish. Although, Douzen claimed that he could make an equally delicious tasting version, so I’m going to hold him to that and invite myself over one day to try it.
We ended the meal with the Spicy Roku Ramen. Douzen absolutely raves about it, and I do agree that it is quite good. The broth is amazingly flavorful probably because the broth is cooked over a long period of time to really amp up the soup, and the noodles have a nice springy chew to them which I always enjoy.
All in all, the food here is fantastic, and I think average priced in comparison to other izakayas. I wouldn’t say this place is a bargain, but the portions are pretty reasonable considering the slightly more expensive price tag. My only complaint is probably the fact that we usually find ourselves waiting a while for a table sometimes even though we have a reservation. The place is pretty small so options can be limited especially if you have a big party, and since this place is big on the sake and beer, it tends to attract large parties of hipsters wanting to drink, eat and be merry. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve been there, when I’ve seen tables of people dragging their meals forever. I’ve given more than one of them the stink eye particularly when I’m hungry. I look forward to coming back again.
1819 Market St.
San Francisco, CA 94103
PAFO Ratings for Izakaya Roku:
Ambiance 3 stars
Food 4 stars
Overall rating 3½ stars