While I love sushi, I know there’s probably more to Japanese food than raw fish and rice. So lately I’ve been exploring Japanese food in the city, hoping to stretch my understanding of this cuisine.

One of the highly recommended locations for authentic Japanese food is the longtime Kappou Gomi restaurant in San Francisco’s Richmond neighborhood. The quaint and rustic-looking restaurant is welcoming and comfortable, and quite popular with a lot of Japanese-speaking people on the night I dined with my friend Tat. I loved the sign in front that says “No sushi, no combination plates” so you know this place doesn’t cater to the Americanized palate.

Standardized Preparations
The menu is quite extensive, with several pages of dishes. While it seems overwhelming, after awhile I realized that the menu is primarily broken down by ingredients, and under each ingredients the same basic preparations are listed (such as sashimi, salt-grilled, tempura, etc.).

We ordered several dishes that were new to us, along with some standard favorites. Even with the basics, like sashimi, the preparations were unique. Our fluke sashimi ($16) was beautifully plated and were served rolled around a shiso leaf and sprinkled with tobiko, accentuating the flavors of the raw fluke.

Kappou Gomi has the vibe of a welcoming Japanese home

Kappou Gomi has the vibe of a welcoming Japanese home

But some raw dishes were a bit off-putting. I was excited to order one of the daily specials – hotaru ika or sparkling squid in tamari soy sauce ($8.50). This appetizer came out in a little larger than a tea cup but had the texture of mucus. (Sorry, but true.) While Tat and I learned to enjoy the flavor, we couldn’t get past the texture of the raw squid.

Dining on Uni
Then there was the uni served in an apple ($12), which was a very creative presentation and the warm apple matched the creamy uni (sea urchin), although probably too much apple to uni.

Highlights included the udon in a comforting broth, and the mixed rice made with cooked salmon and salmon roe. The pork in claypot had a lot of flavor, but the pork was a bit chewy. Tat ordered the grilled mochi, which was wrapped in nori, and considered it his dessert.

The Last Bite
While the tastes of the food can be hit or miss, depending on what you order, Kappou Gomi offers so much that it’s worth exploring. Beautifully plated and presented, the food has an authentic flavor and definitely makes you look at Japanese food beyond sushi.

Rating: 2.5 out of 4 camera snaps
2.5snaps

 

Kappou Gomi, 5524 Geary Blvd. (at 19th), San Francisco. PH: 415.221.5353. Open for dinner Tue.–Sun., 5:30–10 p.m. No reservations, major credit cards accepted. kappougomi.com

Kappou Gomi on Urbanspoon

Special dish of hotaru-ika or sparkling squid in tamari soy sauce ($8.50) had an off-putting texture

Special dish of hotaru-ika or sparkling squid in tamari soy sauce ($8.50) had an off-putting texture

Hirame (fluke) presented sashimi style, wrapped around shiso leaves and sprinkled with tobiko ($16)

Hirame (fluke) presented sashimi style, wrapped around shiso leaves and sprinkled with tobiko ($16)

Golden yolk grilled uni (sea urchin) served inside a cooked apple, $12. It looked cute coming to the table (top) and the inside was creamy uni with warm cooked apple (bottom)

Golden yolk grilled uni (sea urchin) served inside a cooked apple, $12. It looked cute coming to the table (top) and the inside was creamy uni with warm cooked apple (bottom)

Salt-grilled butterfish ($8.50) was simple and not that exciting, but we got a lot of vegetables cooked on the side

Salt-grilled butterfish ($8.50) was simple and not that exciting, but we got a lot of vegetables cooked on the side

Pork claypot ($10). I so coveted the claypot.

Pork claypot ($10). I so coveted the claypot.

Mixed rice ($6.50) made with cooked salmon and salmon roe. Tat felt the rice was a bit mushy, but I loved the fishy flavors.

Mixed rice ($6.50) made with cooked salmon and salmon roe. Tat felt the rice was a bit mushy, but I loved the fishy flavors.

Inaniwa udon ($13) served with onsen egg and vegetable kaki-age tempura

Inaniwa udon ($13) served with onsen egg and vegetable kaki-age tempura

4 Responses to Review of Kappou Gomi Japanese Restaurant in San Francisco

  1. Carolyn Jung says:

    The uni baked in an apple is really intriguing. Never ever seen that before. What a charming place to check out.

  2. Tara says:

    I was excited to hear about a new review in my home district (the Richmond!). Since I’m not the biggest seafood fan, my eyes instantly were attracted to the pork clay pot. It brings me back to a niche restaurant in Kyoto that I still dream about to this day.

    • Ben Ben says:

      Tara, I don’t know if you’d like the pork clay pot, just because the slices seemed a bit tough, but the broth is nice. The udon is good, and some of the other dishes. I’ve never been to Kyoto (I want to go!) but I have a feeling it’ll remind you of it, very Japanese. :)

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