On our last night in San Francisco, I was hankering for something other than Katana-Ya. Don’t get me wrong, as much as it was delicious every trip, I wanted a bit of variety to my meal! Just down the block was Ryoko, a sushi bar, and what seemed to be a local favorite after my constant search for what to eat on my trip.
Once you enter, you walk down into a basement suite of pop music, loud laughter, and boisterous orders being called between bartenders. Although not specified anywhere, I definitely consider it an izakaya, a Japanese “pub” where food is to go with sake and drinks. We were tired from the day’s trip and the atmosphere of the restaurant definitely elevated my mood!
Complimentary edamame beans started the night off in the right direction. Boiled fresh and generously salted, I was addicted and ordered another dish ($3.50 the second time around), which was considerably larger than our first plate.
Joe had developed a habit of ordering seaweed salad at every Japanese restaurant we went to, and it went the same for Ryoko. Although it wasn’t the crunchy one he preferred, it was well seasoned with sesame dressing.
The appetizer menu looked delicious and suitable for sharing over a round of drinks, but I was hankering some sushi. Ordering the salmon, red tuna, and hamachi served it’s purpose for me. Fresh cut sashimi, adequately portioned for the rice, with a hint of wasabi in between – win! The rice is something to comment on although I’m not quite sure what to say of it. It’s different from your regular sushi rice, with a hint of light brown coloration. Perhaps the marinade is different because I didn’t think it was anywhere close to brown rice. Other than the color though, the rice was slightly warm and cooked perfectly for sushi.
To go with our nigiri, we also ordered a spicy scallop, hot tuna, and jumping tuna roll. With two full pages of rolls, the selection is extensive and ranged from your basic keppa rolls to elaborate deep-fried maki. The jumping tuna roll was my favorite, spicy tuna, cucumber, and shiso rolled and deep-fried in a light tempura batter. Usually fried rolls are made larger to hold its shape, but there were perfect bite-sized pieces. The spicy scallop and hot tuna were done in the traditional roll style and were delightful. Loosely rolled (some may prefer a tighter package to prevent spills), the highlight of the roll was definitely the use of fresh seafood and lightly seasoned marinades.
I absolutely loved this place, both for atmosphere and for the food. Reasonably priced, great service, and great food – all I can ask for! We were there on a Monday night so the wait was a mere couple of minutes, but it was a hot spot nevertheless. I would presume you would need to come early on Friday and weekend nights and don’t expect reservations as I noticed a clipboard where you wrote your own name and table size up at the front. With a live DJ on Friday and Saturday nights, a piano right in the middle of the bar area, and open late 7 days a week until 2 AM, no wonder locals love this place!Ryoko’s
619 Taylor St