On Mission Street, kitty corner from Duc Loi supermarket, there’s an izakaya that’s making people smile again. It opened in October 2021, takes no reservations, and offers no takeout options. It’s got no more than six small tables. The whole experience is both upscale and hilarious: there’s a “Big Mac” nigiri composed of Wagyu beef, otoro, uni, truffle, and caviar. The izakaya is called Chome and it’s a quirky delight for any worn-out San Franciscans looking for something fresh.
Eric, a local Mission resident who asked to have his last name omitted to not draw attention away from the restaurant, dined at the tiny shop last weekend and couldn’t get enough of the innovative food and warm ambiance. He posted on his Instagram story about the many reasons to enjoy the little izakaya, and Eater SF reached out to learn more. “It’s just a super personal little izakaya in a space that has been historically tough to be successful in,” Eric says. He enjoyed the calamari nanban, a twist on chicken nanban, the egg yolk-creamy okonomiyaki, and the wide selection of raw fish. “Their mirugai plate was the showstopper,” Eric says. “Cut with surgeon-like precision, it was prepared perfectly, especially for those who like their shellfish with a bit of crunch.” His meal ended with mochi and fresh fruit on a skewer.
Walking into the intimate room is its own little retreat. A chalkboard dubbed the “Zone of Arbitrary Things’’ hangs on the wall to let customers know about, well, arbitrary things. It’s a small enough space to make drinking a few bottles of sake feel like a main character activity. It’s a small enough space that a 76th birthday party can merge with the other tables in the shop to make for a wonderful late night bash. And it’s a small enough space, in an existential sense, that negative reviews get a public memeing on the shop Instagram account.
Beyond the outrageous food and lovely design, Chome does feel like the kind of restaurant that can help diners in the Bay Area take a load off. The news cycle can feel like a nonstop hammering of depressing event followed by another apocalyptic forecast. Fires are already hitting California’s wine country. But Chome can make things feel a little less terrible. At a restaurant that proudly writes in pink chalk “2 people on Yelp hate us,” one can only throw up their hands, laugh, and crack into that lobster.