Tag Archives: gastropub San Francisco

A Taste of Okinawa in San Francisco’s Castro District

This is soba Okinawan-style -- yes, with egg wheat noodles -- at Izakaya Sushi Ran.

This is soba Okinawan-style — yes, with egg wheat noodles — at Izakaya Sushi Ran.


Owner Yoshi Tome came to my table at his Izakaya Sushi Ran in San Francisco, bearing bottles of awamori for me to try.

The unique clear Japanese spirit is made only in Okinawa, where he is from. Like sake, it is made from rice. But while sake is brewed, awamori is distilled, making it far more potent.

When I asked if Okinawans ever drank sake, Tome emphatically shook his head, saying, “No. They drink only three things: beer, whiskey and awamori. And they drink awamori neat — just poured over ice.”

Since Okinawans are among the longest living people in the world, they must be doing something right.

Owner Yoshi Tome.

Owner Yoshi Tome.

I can’t vouch for whether dining at the Castro District restaurant, which opened in December, will give you extra longevity. But it will definitely give you delicious insight into the region’s cuisine and drink, as I found out when I was invited in as a guest of the restaurant recently.

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Sate Your Thirst and More at The Abbot’s Cellar

A generous plate of pork osso bucco -- part of the nightly tasting menu at The Abbot's Cellar.

For a hip, happening and sudsy time, head to the very beer-centric The Abbot’s Cellar in San Francisco’s Mission District.

I admit I tend to be more of a wine gal. But experiencing a tasting menu of this caliber with a different beer paired with each course was one of the most fun and palate-tickling experiences I’ve had recently.

The Abbot’s Cellar was opened seven months ago by the same team behind Monk’s Kettle in San Francisco, which was established six years ago.

Both are temples to the art of craft beer. But The Abbot’s Cellar is even more ambitious. It even has a two-story stone cellar to hold a range of beers and wines at their optimum temperatures. There’s also a dramatic back-lit wall of every imaginable glassware for beer and wine. And just for fun, a few cookbooks are propped up on the bar for patrons to peruse.

An eye-catching back-lit wall of beer and wine glassware behind the bar.

About 100 beers are available by the bottle and another 20 on tap, with each characterized by intensity, style, flavors and alcohol percentage. The beer list conveniently slides out of a nook built into the side of each wooden dining table for an added dose of cool.

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