What we miss about the U.S. when we’re living abroad is access to delicious food of a wide variety of cuisines. Our New Year’s trip to San Francisco gave us a chance to try a lot of restaurants. We were based in Japantown, which is a perfect foodie location. The historic neighborhood has an array of Japanese restaurants and groceries that make you feel like you’re in the Land of the Rising Sun.
This ramen house has a history dating back to 1885 in Japan. Today, there is a line out the door daily for lunch and dinner seatings. The wait isn’t too long (we stood in line about 15 min.). The ramen broth is full of umami, and the pork slices in mine had a melt-in-your-mouth tenderness. I recommend trying the marinated raw octopus for an appetizer; if you can get past the slimy texture, it’s a very tasty dish.
Located inside Japan Center, the sprawling mall complex in Japantown, Nande-ya is like a Japanese diner. It’s a bustling place where you might have to stand in line, but not for too long. I liked the seaweed udon soup bowl–fat noodles paired with nutritious ocean greens–and the agedashi tofu–big cubes of lightly battered soft tofu in a salty sauce.
Super Mira Market and Nijiya Market
These two grocery stores are prime places to pick up pre-prepared Japanese foods. Super Mira is the smaller of the two and is open less hours, but it offers equally high-quality takeout options. I was amazed by what you can buy: sashimi-grade seafood, including scallops (my favorite), and all sorts of sushi, including the famed California roll. I also went nuts for the mochi ice cream.