Nojo – San Francisco, CA

Meep & SK are part of a Hockey League based in San Francisco; and it is there that they met Greg Dunmore. Meep didn’t know much about Greg Dunmore’s career other than he is a chef and works at Ame (lol), till last year Greg mentioned he was opening a restaurant. We went in a group of 8 to try out the restaurant and for them to show support for their ex team mate.

Nojo = farm in Japanese; which is fitting for a restaurant that focuses on using local farm ingredients (how very San Francisco-esque).

Chef Dunmore is quite an unassuming guy; he looks quiet and comes off as a modest nice guy. There he is, with the brown hair dressed like everyone else. Our group wondered why Meep was talking to a server after dinner – not knowing that he is the owner of the restaurant!

Menu is very simple with about a couple dozen small plates (with a section dedicated to the farms that supplied the ingredients)

Dessert selection is short (with some very interesting choices).

And of course a full page dedicated to drinks (alcoholic & non alchoholic(

We ordered a little over half the whole menu on our table; which is the way to do it when it comes to Japanese Izakaya (lotsa ppl, lotsa little plates):

Beef Tataki $12

w Ponzu, Daikon & Asparagus

Not a bad dish, seared well but nothing exciting with a light ponzu

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2 orders Karaage @$6 each

Wings & Drummies, Sansho & Meyer Lemon

Each order comes with 4 pieces of chicken. This was amazing! loved the light breading (?) and seasoned really well. I could come back and just eat this for my main meal. I am in love with fried chicken. It was so crispy and with every bite, it was oozing with juices.

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2 orders Mochi @ $5.50 each

Sauteed w Nori & Shoyu Butter Sauce

I was a little nervous when this was placed in front of me. I was told to roll it up and eat it like a taco. I found it a little strange but the butter sauce was really tasty. I am just confused about this almost dessert tasting course as a savoury item.

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2 orders Gyouza @$9 each

w Soft Leeks, Gai Lan & Shio Broth

I wasn’t too excited about this when I looked at it because of how thick the skin looked – and it was…  A little too gummy n chewy but the filling was delicious. And the broth was pretty good as well.

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White Miso Glazed Trout $14

w Fava Beans & Black Trumpet Mushrooms

I was pretty excited about this. I love a well prepared fish and this came smelling delicious with a nice crispy looking sking. It was indeed very very good, fresh, simple and well prepared. Love the wild trumpet mushrooms with it. The fish flaked off nicely and it was moist and just glistening.

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Miso Soup w Manila Clams & Green Onion $8.50 (not pictured)

I didn’t try the soup but the diners that did loved it!

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4 orders Chawanmushi @ $12 each

w Dungeness Crab & Green garlic

A definite crowd pleaser. we ended up ordering 4 to split 1 per couple. Not cheap but great to share between 2. The custard was creamy, light and smooth with great flavour (I did wish there was more crab). But the crab was alittle overdone and stringy. I like the little chunks of green garlic at the bottm. I did notice that it gets a tad salty towards the end.

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4 orders Chikin Thigh @ $3.50 each

(L) Green Onions, Sea Salt & Lemon; (R) Green Onions & Tare

OK but nothing great. The yakitoris were missing the smokiness I am used to getting at other joints. It was just grilled skewers of chicken, grilled nicely but kinda missing something.

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2 orders Tsukune @ $5.50 each

w Egg yolk sauce

Pretty good. The chicken meatballs were grilled very well and quite juicy in the centre with nice seasoning. The egg yolk with a dash of soy was delicious with the meatballs – great combination.

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2 orders Beef Tongue @$4.50 each

w Tari & Shichimi

This was very very good. The beef tongue came in nice little chunks; which was a nice change because of the usual think slivers or little bits. It was surprisingly tender and juicy with nice seasoning. Again, this yakitori was missing the “smokiness” but it had great flavour from a little char from the grilling.

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3 orders Pork Belly @ $3.50 each

w Miso Mustard & Green Onion

Not bad. The pork was really tender and the fat melted in the mouth. I found it had a little too much fat and the predominant taste is just miso and not really pork.

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2 orders Rice Ball @ $3.50 each

w Tare & Nori

Let me first say; I am not a big fan of rice balls in general so my perception of this dish might be skewed.

It is an ok rice ball. With crispy crust and almost al dente rice in the middle. Topped with a blend of soy sauce and nori and stuffed with some kind of braised meat.

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2 orders Almond Pork Rice Ball @ $5.50 each

w Miso Mustard

The miso mustard on this took me by surprise. It had a nice kick to it and gave the rice ball a nice edge. The rice ball is stuffed with some kind of braised meat in the centre. It was ok… but still a rice ball which had a crispy crust and al dente rice in the middle.

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2 orders Nojo Sundae @$7.50 each

Black sesame ice cream, kumquats & peanut thunder crackers

Crowd pleaser!!! The sesame ice cream was delicious. The ice cream is not made in house but made by Humphry Slocombe (a local ice cream joint that is madly popular for crazy flavours and amazing ice cream. They supply to various restaurants including Nojo)

Nojo’s peanut thunder crackers that come w the ice cream is a great contrast to the creamy (and still a little grainy from the sesame) and subtly sweet ice cream. It was sweet and crunchy and quite addictive.

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Chocolate Roll Cake $5.50

w Umeboshi cream & Shiso

I loved the cake, not sure about the cream as it was a tad salty for me. It went well together but maybe a little less cream or a little less salt would make this almost perfect.

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Buckwheat Crepes $7

w Ginger Muscavado syrup & White Miso ice cream

We couldn’t help but order this because of the miso ice cream. It was really creamy with barely any miso to it. Sweet and quite rich and a great complement to the crepes. The crepe has a hint of saltiness and was nice & thin with crisped edges.

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Ecco Coffee from Rwanda $4

I was not crazy about the coffee. It had creamy body like Kopi Luwak I have tried but was a tad to tangy for me. And I like my coffee really black and robust. This was too “light”.

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Total Damage: $280.24 (including tax & tips)

Personal Rating: 3.5 out of 5 (Pretty darn good)

Food was good in general, with some dishes being quite great. We had a great time just trying everything and being surprised every now and then with some of the dishes. Their menu is suppose to change every now and then, so I am sure we will be back!

The service was amazing w/o being too much. Plates were cleared and replaced before new dishes. We were told at one point we might have too much food so they will let us know when we get the last dish to see if we needed more (much appreciated). Water was consistently refilled. And they were just NICE w/o being fake.

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Nojo’s

231 Franklin St
San Francisco, CA 94102

Nojo on Urbanspoon

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