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Neighborhood Finds: Izakaya Sozai

Izakaya_Takoyakitakoyaki – battered octopus ball tonkatsu sauce

I live in the Sunset District of San Francisco.  It's not particularly known for its food unless you're looking for a hole in the wall dim sum or noodle joint to satisfy a craving and you're too lazy to hop a bus to Chinatown.

There is one neighborhood spot that I read about on a top foodie list somewhere and got so excited that it was close to where I lived that we had to try it – Izakaya Sozai.

It's a little, somewhat cramped, Japanese restaurant with a few tables and none large enough to seat more than 8 or 10, if you're looking to celebrate a special occasion.  But that's kind of what we like about it.  I didn't mind that it was a little on the loud side, just order up some sake and make it a fun date night.

Izakaya_Ramen  Ritsu Tonkotsu Ramen with spicy miso and garlic chips added

The menu consists of ramen (just one kind but you can get it with various add-ons), yakitori, and appetizer staples you would find at most Japanese restaurants like sashimi, seaweed salads, and other fried goodness.

Izakaya is a place where you definitely want to order a little bit of everything because most dishes are small and meant to be shared between 2-3 people.  Our eyes were a bit larger than our stomachs — okay, a LOT bigger — but we finished off every last bite and justified it by walking back to our home just a few blocks away.

Izakaya_Pork Belly

We had the fried octopus balls and ramen, shown above, and ordered the a la carte pork belly to put add to it – this way the Hubs could have more meat. ;)

Other items we put in our tummy were -

Izakaya_Spicy Tuna Crispy Rice  spicy tuna on a crispy rice cake
Izakaya_Pork Jowl    pork jowl yakitori
Izakaya_Hamachihamachi carpaccio with mustard miso vinaigrette and jalapeno
Izakaya_Bacon Enoki Yakitoribacon wrap enoki mushroom yakitori
Izakaya_Agedashi Tofuagedashi tofu in dashi broth

Most of the dishes we tried were delicious.  We especially liked the bacon-wrapped mushrooms, the peppery ramen, tofu and the hamachi slices were fresh.  Their braised pork belly dish is very reminiscent of Vietnamese “thit kho”, which is also a braised pork dish served with hard boiled eggs.

Not so successful dishes for us were the pork jowl skewers (too tough) and the battered octopus balls (too much batter), albeit they were plated beautifully.

Overall, the Hubs and I will come back again and to try more dishes.  At least now we'll know how much to really order for dinner.

Izakaya Sozai is located on Irving Street @ 16th Avenue and is open daily from 5:30pm.

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