Friday, April 09, 2010

O Izakaya Lounge inside the Hotel Kabuki

Drinks and Small Bites at this Japantown Lounge
1625 Post St. (at Laguna), San Francisco
PH: 415.614.5431
Open daily for breakfast; dinner Wed.–Sun., 5–10 p.m. (bar until midnight)
Reservations, major credit cards accepted
Web site

A couple of days ago I posted about how I got ramen in Japantown with my nephew Chris and his girlfriend, Mary, but I was thwarted in my attempts to get sake when the restaurant wasn’t serving any alcohol last Saturday night. Not to be denied alcohol on a weekend (see what a role model I am to my nephew?), we went to the O Izakaya Lounge at the Hotel Kabuki for some after-dinner drinks.

The 2-year-old lounge specializes in izakaya dishes from Japan. Izakaya spots are popular after-work hangouts in Japan, and they often serve small bites from the grill with tons of sake and beer. In the last two years, a few izakaya-like places have opened up in San Francisco.

O Izakaya is a stylish lounge with a Japanese baseball motif demonstrated by the graphic baseball posters hanging on the walls. When we arrived, the place was nearly empty, probably because most people were still at dinner. But it started to get crowded later in the evening.

The lounge has an extensive list of after-dinner drinks, sake, and beer. I ended up getting the Sake Mojito ($10), which was brimming with mint and softened in flavor by the sake. Chris (yes, he’s over 21) got a Maple Manhattan ($10) and Mary tried the Adam and Veev ($10) made with Veev acai liquor, apple cider and tuaca.

Despite just coming from dinner (and munching on some free mini cupcakes we found at an event at the New People World pop mall), I wanted to try a few of the izakaya. Along with some edamame ($4), I ordered the Braised Pork Belly with Kim Chee ($7) and Chicken Yakitori ($6).

These skewer dishes came from the grill, but the menu also offers several entrée-sized dishes like burgers, salmon and donburi, as well as three types of ramen.

The pork belly was simply amazing. The cubed pork belly was tender inside but slightly charred on the outside from the grill, giving it a nice smoky flavor. It was topped with a sauce that I think was sesame. The kim chee on the side was nice because I like kim chee, but I didn’t know if it necessarily complemented the pork belly. The pork belly was so good on its own it really didn’t need any sides.

The chicken yakitori was also good, though not as amazing as the pork belly. Still, it was a nice, reliable chicken skewer with tangy teriyaki sauce.

It must have been the alcohol because I wanted to eat more, so we got the Chocolate Lava Cake with Gelato ($9). The cake was like a warm brownie, rich but slightly crumbly and was enhanced by the vanilla gelato and slices of fresh strawberries.

Since it wasn’t super crowded, it kind of felt like we had the lounge to ourselves. So it was a very relaxing experience just hanging out and catching up with Chris and Mary. O Izakaya lives up to its name of being a sophisticated lounge.

This is a mini review since I didn’t get to try the larger plates on the menu, so no rating here. But I’d definitely go back because the few things I tried had a solid flavor profile.

O Izakaya Lounge on Urbanspoon

More bar bites:
Bar Crudo: “A Night of Light Eating”
The Corner: “Tasty Food with a View of Humanity”
Pisco Latin Lounge: “Trying to Shake up the Neighborhood”


JulieK said...

Try the Umeboshi drink nex time...

foodhoe said...

I enjoyed the pork belly with kimchee dish there too and have always meant to go back.

Anonymous said...

If you go to, they have certificates $50 for less than $10 for this restaurant. Anything helps, right?