San Francisco excels at the small restaurant, and Namu Gaji is a great case in point. Catty corner (caddy? cady?) to Dolores Park is where you’ll find this thin, cozy, Pan Asian restaurant. A cool tidbit of info about these guys is they actually have their own fossil free farm in Sunol that they source a lot of their veggies and herbs from, truly capitalizing on the farm to table craze.
The restaurant has a really rustic feel with a lot of rough wood including a beautiful single piece communal table in the middle. You order at the register and then find a seat to wait excitedly for your food.
Okonomiyaki (takes a little practice to pronounce as it doesn’t really roll of the tongue right away) is a Japanese dish which consists of a savory pancake topped with a variety of different ingredients. Namu Gaji cooks their’s in a cast iron dish and tops it with cabbage (self explanatory), scallion (green onions), kimchee (stinky fermented vegetables but in a good way), bonito flakes (thinly sliced dried fish), oko sauce (no idea), kewpie mayo (a specific brand) and you can add a protein if you want (we went with chicken).
First off, this thing looks RIDICULOUS. Major points for presentations on a few levels. The crisscross of the two types of sauce looks very cool, and to add to that, the bonito appears to dance as it crinkles from the heat. It comes out pretty hot so after letting it cool we dug right in.
The texture and flavor hits you like a truck right away. The pancake itself is fluffy and light, but the combination of the mayo, sauce and other ingredients make for an intensely rich blend of sweet, salty and umami. There are definitely some unique flavors from the bonito and the kim chee, but for us, it was right up our alley. The only downside to this dish is its richness, so we just suggest getting it along with other dishes to share with people (our preferred dining style anyway).
In addition, we also ordered their KFC Style Chicken Sando, which holy geez, might have actually been the best fried chicken sandwich either of us have ever had. If it were up to us, it would be on The List as well, but for now we’re just covering the Okonomiyaki.
This place and dish get the quadruple thumbs up (don’t worry, that’s just both of us giving two thumbs up, not one of us having grown an extra pair of thumbs). It’s the type of casual place that SF does so well. Easy to get in, great food, and not a lot of fuss. Just quality, unique food that your stomach will thank you for.
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