i’ve been wanting to go to minako organic on mission for years now, and just managed to sneak a visit in before leaving SF. my friend and delicious-food-and-alcohol-overconsumption partner-in-crime julie went recently and had the best time eating vegetarian sushi and chatting with judy, the good-lord-you’re-adorable server/daughter of the owner, so we went back on one of my last nights in town. the food is absolutely amazing – i’ll get to that in a second. ok, i guess i’ll let you see a photo first. feast your eyes on this crispy potato wrapped shrimp:
good lord. i would not complain if someone wanted to wrap everything i own in crispy deep fried potato strings as an april fool’s joke. anyone? anyone? anyway, the reason i’m not focusing on the food at first is because there are all these cute personal touches that made me truly adore the place. first off, check out the colorful handwritten specials board with little japanese food magnets. i am a total sucker for this shit:
mini rice bowl magnets! miso soup bowl magnets! penguins! a-freaking-dorable. to add to the super-personalized cute-factor, there are all these handwritten little notes tucked inside the plastic page holders of the menu. most of these little works of art express their love for judy and minako and their delicious organic japanese food. here are some of my favorites:
i am also a sucker for mini drawings of food. i remember a particularly boring spanish class while studying abroad in santiago, chile during college where i filled three pages of a notebook with miniscule drawings of what i would eat when i got back to the states. i also enjoyed the following statement, less so the kind of creepy drawing:
in case you can’t read the above phrase – ‘when you are in this restaurant there will be at least one PERFECT MOMENT.’ whew. that’s a lot for a restaurant to live up to. i was already feeling a joyful warmth at the happiness of the restaurant spreading through my limbs, but that also could have been the many mimosas i just downed at dolores park. would it be possible for the food to live up to the loving illustrations of its previous patrons? well, you already saw that crazy shrimp. the answer is HELL YES. one of my favorite dishes was this spicy tuna roll topped with wasabi-marinated tobiko. usually spicy tuna is a mass of mayonnaise-y nastiness, but somehow minako works her magic to make this spicy tuna sans the mayo gloppiness. check out the insanely green roe soaked with wasabi for that perfect ZING of flavor and a cool heat. does that oxymoron make any sense? it’s not really a HOT heat like a chili pepper. huh. the internet has just informed me that this is due to its effect on the nasal passages rather than the tongue. thanks wikipedia.
we also ordered a bunch of vegetarian sushi dishes for julie. and by ‘for julie’ i mean ‘i ate at least half of them.’ sorry girl. you knew that was going to happen eating out with me though. here’s a delicious gobo (greater burdock) and avocado roll:
and a cucumber and umeboshi (japanese pickled plum) roll. umeboshi is a bit of an acquired taste – crazy sour/salty and apparently strong enough to corrode its way through an aluminum lunch box. damn. that’s the kind of shit i want in my stomach.
let’s not forget the ‘vegetarian eel’ roll with avocado and spinach. okay, well i forget what is in vegetarian eel – some sort of savory soy tastiness – but it sure is damn tasty.
we probably could have eaten all the above dishes and been perfectly happy, but i have a slight problem with excessive ordering. judy was smart enough to check us before we wrecked ourselves and was like…why don’t you wait and see if this is enough food? after we debated ordering another few items. the dishes i don’t have pictures of? deliciously crunchy and non-greasy veggie tempura and a truly amazing hamachi mint dish – yellowtail sashimi in a you-can’t-do-that-on-television-neon-green-slime-colored sauce of three kinds of mint and brown rice oil. this blow-your-mind-delicious sauce was lemony and minty and seriously irresistible. they were nice enough to leave it on the table so we could dip everything into it and coat all our other food with incredibleness. i would totally be happy for this to be poured over my head repeatedly. i should probably just rig up my own garbage can of triple awesome triple mint sauce, carry it with me everywhere i go, throw out the trigger word every few minutes and look surprised when it comes gushing down all over my face. mmm. maybe someone else has already had this genius idea, because this dude seems to be enjoying the green slime quite a lot. not sure what’s going on there.
we ended our meal by creating our own food drawing.
hopefully you will go to minako organic, say hi to judy, see our illustration, and have your own perfect moment. with all the amazing food, friendly faces, free flowing sake, and personal touches, it’s pretty much guaranteed….