We'd be first to argue that SF's eats scene is, per capita, the best in the nation. But it suffers from one big problem: the superstar effect. For non-economics geeks, the basic issue is two-fold:
1. People in this town f*cking love to eat at "the best" restaurants. (Which is great!)
2. Everybody online converges on the "top" 5-10 places, and because this city runs pretty strong computer game, everyone wants to go to those places, all the time.
We are definitely part of the problem. The places that are booked 60 days out tend to score high ratings with the Infatuation as well. Because they are usually excellent.
Which brings us to Nojo. Places like Nojo make us especially happy, because the food is delicious and you can actually get in. The atmosphere is still fun, and it is feasible to say to a friend, at 5 p.m., "hey, want to hit Nojo tonight?" without the postscript "...although I bet the wait will be like an hour."
Your imaginary friend better like chicken on a stick, though. Nojo does it every which way, and they're all pretty damn good. A special shout out to the chicken tail, because a) chickens have tails? b) that are cookable? c) YES. Also that chawanmushi with Dungeness crab. Partly because chawanmushi is fun to say (it's savory egg custard).
Nojo is a great example of our favorite class of restaurant: excellent food and not a pain in the *ss to go to. Maybe we should add that to the "Perfect For" categories.
In case it wasn't clear from the rambling above, Nojo specializes in grilled chicken on a stick, or yakitori for the Japanese pros. This giant meatball is fatty and juicy, and it comes with an egg yolk for dipping. Money.
Also noted above, this was awesome. Tender as hell and packed with chicken flavors. A must-order.
Chewy...fun to try once but not a necessity. How do you pronounce Nojo, by the way? We always say it like it's Spanish (No-ho), but it probably rhymes with "dojo." Hard to rewire the brain on that one.
Do it. Dooooo ittt. You'll totally regret not getting your Temple of Doom on. Wuss.
Basically a wing with bonus meat. Thumbs up. All the chicken is cooked perfectly, so if you want to stick with more standard cuts, you'll still have a great time.
For the person who steals all the skin from the Thanksgiving turkey. For the rest of us, it might be a little too much skin.
Beef Tendon Salad
All the not-chicken-on-a-stick stuff is great as well, and this is one of the favorites. It's a light, spicy salad, whose central ingredient is coincidentally beef tendon. Just go with it.
Hot savory egg in a bowl, with delicious crab bits. If available, it's mandatory.
Good but not crazy good. It's not the best fried chicken in SF, but if you've got a hankering, you'll be happy.
Black Sesame Ice Cream
We had this with persimmon, and it was honestly one of the best desserts of the year. So simple, and so, so good.