3123 Clement St, San Francisco, CA 94121, (415) 379-3604

I loved Oyaji! Set aside the minimalistic decor reminiscent of the traditional izakayas and the tasty looking Japanese pub fare and you have Oyaji, himself. The term "oyaji" in Japanese can mean dad or an unrelated older man who's like a father, and sometimes can be used in the slang sense such as "sukebe oyaji" (dirty old man). And that's exactly what the owner, Hideki, is and quite proud of it, I must say. Hideki is a riot and very endearing. He regales you with humorous anecdotes then switches it up a notch with some raunchy humor about his massive testicles and unsurpassable virility. I laughed so hard during my visit that the sides of my stomach hurt and I almost had tears in my eyes.

In addition, to a pretty cool selection of zizake (regional sake), sochu and Japanese beer, Oyaji's served up the freshest uni and bincho maguro I've had in quite awhile. The texture was perfect and the fish positively melted in my mouth. My Tokyo houseguest popped in a piece of aka maguro and smiled from the pure pleasure of its taste. I did notice fellow Yelpers commenting that the nigiri sushi there seemed small, but to be honest it's like how I remember it being in Japan... bite-size. I think the sushi in the US, on par with McDonald's, has become super-sized. Traditional sushiyas in Japan don't make these humongous rolls drenched in mayo-y sauces, nor do they include ingredients like avocado or cream cheese. I think the only kind of rolls I saw during my stay there were oshinko, natto, tekka and kappa makis---which are much skinnier, with one filling. It's all about appreciating the technique, the freshness and the taste of the seafood on your palate not how much crap you can squish inside the nori and rice, like your Aunt Martha into a girdle. Also, would you put ketchup on your sushi? No? Then why are you letting them pour the equivalent of 1,000 Island dressing on your sushi order? Paying for prime, fresh sushi is a waste if you're going to just mask the flavor with condiments.

Anyhow, I'll definitely be returning to Oyaji. I'm not sure if it's a good date restaurant, unless you want Oyaji leering at your date's breasts or challenging your manhood. But it's a great place to grab some delicious food, knock back some sochu and grab a smoke outside with Oyaji while BSing. Next time round, along with the sushi, I plan to sample some of the asari sake mushi (my fav), ika sugaayaki along with a side order of gobo that I saw on the menu. Can't wait!

Namara-umai! (for those that speak nihongo, I just thought I'd throw in some Hokkaido dialect for you).
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