Shizen Vegan Sushi Bar & Izakaya
There aren’t many vegan sushi places in the city, so this casual Mission spot already stands out. Add creative (and cheesily-named) plant-based specialty rolls to the equation, and Shizen is a place you'll return to so often that your maps app will suggest it as a weekly destination. When you do get here, stick to the rolls—they’re the best part of the menu, and unlike anything else you can get in San Francisco.
Exhibit A is the Prime Suspect. Each bite has so many textures you'll forget there’s no actual fish involved. There are crunchy sweet potato crisps, slabs of soft marinated eggplant, and creamy gochujang aioli for an added kick. Other rolls you should have on your table are the Surprise Ending, which includes one piece that's secretly spiked with habanero aioli, plus the Boddy and Soul, a lightly-fried roll dressed up with spicy aioli and shichimi togarashi.
The rest of the menu ranges from solid to mostly good. There’s a section of $8 nigiri, which are basically just vegetables and rice. They’re generally forgettable, so feel free to skip. The ramen comes with well-seasoned bean curd char siu, but we wish the broth was more flavorful. But know that despite these few misses, the specialty rolls alone are what make a visit here worth it.
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Our favorite roll on the menu. It’s got tempura asparagus, eggplant draped over the top, a neat dollop of gochujang aioli, and sweet potato crisps—every bite explodes with flavor and texture in your mouth. Start with one of these for the table.
Boddy and Soul
This airy tempura roll is topped with spicy tofu and aioli, and a dusting of shichimi togarashi. Another fantastic option in the rolls department.
The Candlestick arrives with a pile of flaming salt on the side, which stays lit long enough for everyone at the table to take a picture before it slowly fizzles out. Then dig into this excellent roll, which is topped with avocado, plant-based caviar, and cucumber that nicely balances out the spiciness of the tofu.
The last ingredient listed on the menu for this roll is “suspense.” Translation: one of the pieces will secretly be spiked with nose-clearing habanero aioli. Randomly taking turns eating pieces and seeing who gets the spicy bite is a fun game to play—but if you’re choosing between this and other rolls, you can go without it.
The shoyu broth is light, and the noodles are thick and bouncy. But overall, we wish this soup packed a little more flavor.