Today is opening day for Ginto Izakaya Japonaise (658 Market Street), the first Bay Area concept from Japanese restaurant powerhouse Ramla, which operates over 100 restaurants around the globe (including more than 30 in Tokyo). It's the first time they've featured this particular concept, which a rep describes as "classic izakaya with French touches," in the U.S., though they do have a quartet of very similar Oto-Oto and Gyoro-Gyoro locations in Southern California. "When we've traveled in the U.S., we've seen that Japanese food hasn't been as well integrated here as it is in other countries," a rep says. "We want to give you that authentic experience, one that will be just as good as going to Tokyo."
The massive, 6,800-square-foot space seats over 200 patrons in a prime location right on Market, complete with a Japanese temple bell and traditional masks on the walls. The menu is more or less a smorgasbord of Japanese cuisine, with yakitori, a robata grill, sushi and sashimi from an in-house sushi bar, tonkotsu and veggie ramen, and tempura among the more than 250 menu offerings. (They didn't have an official menu set for the SF location, but this one from SoCal should give you an idea.) To produce all that food, Ramla has brought in a team of six of their own chefs, straight from Tokyo, and plans to continue to stock the kitchen with Japanese pros (the bar and front-of-house are staffed by locals). They have full liquor and fruity cocktails like a lychee mojito or matcha White Russian, as well as a sizable selection of sake, shochu, and Japanese whisky, and a 25-draft beer program highlighting both Japanese and local brews.
While things ramp up, Ginto will only be open for dinner (4-10 pm daily), but the plan is to expand to all-day service by mid-March, from 11:30 am onward. They're also hoping to be a late-night dining destination, with the full menu eventually available until 1 am on weekends. Also in the works: grab-and-go bento boxes for the local office crowd, which should debut in the next week or two.