Dear Eater SF,
My daughter is obsessed with Japan and wants to go to a restaurant where you sit on the floor! I know Izakaya Kou had that, but they seem to be closed. Any ideas?? (I’d love a Japantown spot if you think of anything.)
Hey Helpful Mom,
It’s lovely to hear your daughter is looking to explore other cultures, and that you’re helping her in her journey. There are two styles of seating your daughter might be thinking of, tatami and horigotatsu. Tatami is where a low table is set on tatami flooring, or mats made of woven straw. Guests remove their shoes before stepping onto the tatami platform, then sit on cushions at the table. Horigotatsu, meanwhile, is similar in that there’s a low table for eating, but there’s a sunken area beneath the table for your legs to dangle. It’s closer to being seated in a chair.
At Izakaya Kou (RIP), the seating style was horigotatsu — and most Japanese restaurants in the Bay Area that I’ve seen lean this way, as well. Sister restaurants Sakesan Sushi & Bistro and Sakesan Sushi & Robata — located in the Inner Richmond and Ingleside, respectively — both offer horigotatsu seating. Sakesan Sushi & Bistro has tables with horigotatsu seating, but there’s also a private karaoke room designed in the same style (reservations are recommended and come with a minimum food and drink charge for a time limit of 3 hours); meanwhile, Sakesan Sushi & Robata has a few tables in the window done in horigotatsu style. And while it’s probably not quite what you’re looking for, Ozumo has a beautifully crafted private kotatsu room available for events and Fuki Sushi in Palo Alto also offers a private tatami room for dinners, as well.
Outside of San Francisco, if you’re willing to look a little further out, Ichika Sushi House in Brisbane offers a few tables with horigotatsu-style seating in their restaurant, and Berkeley favorite Ippuku has more tatami-style seating. It is worth noting that this style of eating is best done in a group — it’s a rarefied dining experience these days and, if offered at all, leans heavily in favor of larger parties than a two-person group, so keep that in mind when planning a meal with your daughter.