San Francisco's Japantown: Six Eateries Locals Love

San Francisco's Japantown: Six Eateries Locals Love
| 3 min read

Home to about twelve thousand Japanese Americans, San Francisco’s Japantown is a foodie’s nirvana. There are scores of restaurants, sushi bars, noodle bars, bar bars and markets. They cover the gamut from national corporate chains to tiny mom and pop operations serving authentic, delicious Japanese food.

In the four square blocks of Japantown, it’s easy to find food that transports you. Here are six spots, long-lived and much-loved by Japantown residents.

Super Mira Market: Japanese organic grocery and deli

 Sushi, sashimi, salads and bento boxes from Super Mira are perfect for lunch in a park.

Just browsing here could occupy you for hours. This superbly clean, beautifully stocked, family owned and operated market/deli is warm and welcoming. Super Mira Market is a corner grocery and deli. The shelves are stocked with Japanese food and products of every kind. The deli serves hot and cold Japanese food.

Mira is without a doubt the neighborhood ‘go to’ for food, both prepared and fresh. Everything is made daily with the freshest ingredients and generations of experience. Try ramen, katsu, tempura and curry. The freshest sushi, sashimi, salads and bento boxes are perfect for lunch in the park or to take back to your hotel room.

TIP: A perfect picnic location, Cottage Row, a mini park, is 1 ½ blocks from Super Mira. Walk west on Sutter.

A very nice selection of sake and Japanese beer are also offered at Super Mira Market.

Open Monday through Saturday from 9:00 am to 7:00 pm and Sunday, 10:30 am to 6:00 pm. Find Super Mira Market at 1790 Sutter Street, the corner of Buchanan and Sutter, San Francisco, California.

Benkyodo Company — Mochi and Manju fresh each day

Mochi from Benkyodo Company, Japantown San Francisco

Opened in 1906, Benkyodo Company is one of the original Japantown businesses. Family owned and operated since then, Benkyodo makes traditional Japanese sweets called Mochi and Manju. The wonderfully sticky buns are sweet and filled with red or white bean paste or fruit. They are very, very sweet. One or two satisfy a sweet tooth quickly. Costs between 1.25 and 2.00 USD.

Benkyodo also serves sandwiches and ice cream at the lunch counter or in the corner booth usually occupied by neighborhood residents drinking tea, eating lunch and catching up on local news.

Located at 1747 Buchanan Street, the corner of Sutter and Buchanan in San Francisco’s Japantown.

Ramen Yamadaya — best tonkotsu ramen

Tonkotsu Ramen from Ramen Yamadaya

The specialty of the Ramen Yamadaya is tonkotsu ramen. Translated, Tonkotsu means pig bones. The deeply umami broth is made with pork bones simmered more than 20-hours. The first taste of Yamadaya’s broth is addictive. Tonkotsu ramen is served with pork belly, soft boiled egg, mushrooms, vegetables and fresh green onions. Many other styles of ramen are available including a vegan version. Traditional side dishes, desserts and beverages are offered. Costs between 9.00 and 12.00 USD.

Ramen Yamadaya is located at 1728 Buchanan Street, Japantown. It is open Monday through Friday, 11:30 am – 3:00 pm and 5:30 pm – 10:00 pm. Saturday and Sunday 11:30 am – 10:00 pm.

Yakiniq Café — sweet potato latte that you will return for

Sweets and WiFi at Yakiniq Cafe

Yakiniq serves hot beverages including coffees and teas. The sweet potato latte is the star of the show. It is a bit like sweet potato soup with cream added.

Also served are ice cream, macaroons and other western style, sweet baked goods. Wi-Fi is available, with plenty of table seating. Yakiniq Cafe is located at 1640 Post Street, Japantown.

Sweet Maple for a great western breakfast

Western breakfast at Sweet Maple Cafe, Japantown, San Francisco.

Sweet Maple serves one of the best breakfasts you’ll find in San Francisco. A busy neighborhood restaurant and coffeehouse, the atmosphere is laid-back. They have 11 types of Eggs Benedict, 12 different omelets and scrambles. They are famous for their Millionaire’s Bacon. It’s thick, sweet, spicy and unforgettable. Breakfast, brunch and lunch are all made with locally-sourced organic ingredients.

Sweet Maple is located at 2101 Sutter Street, San Francisco, California and is open every day from 8 am until 3 pm.

Try local favorites with an Edible Excursions Japantown Food Tour

Food sculpture in Japantown San Francisco

If you only have a few hours to spend in Japantown, spend them in an Edible Excursions Japantown food tour, which takes around three hours. You will not only taste a variety of authentic Japanese foods, you’ll see the neighborhood and learn about its history and culture from one of their epicurean concierges. This award winning tour company will make the most of your three hours.

Eating like a local is easy in Japantown, San Francisco

It’s hard to go wrong with a meal in Japantown. The selections are numerous and varied. These six eateries are among the best, but you can find more. I love to ask the question, “Where is the best place for lunch in the neighborhood?” Japantown has many answers.

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.


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Mary Charlebois is a Northern California Freelance writer, photographer and videographer. Her career in publishing technology fulfilled a lifelong dream, traveling the globe. Now retired,...Read more

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