Ancient samurai warriors wielded razor-sharp katanas as a symbol of status, to dismember their foes' ponytails, and to slice fresh fish into delicious sashimi. Feast on fish-chopped fare with today's Groupon: for $20, you get $40 worth of Japanese cuisine at 2G Japanese Brasserie on Van Ness Avenue.
The skilled chefs at 2G whip up savory sushi and Japanese, American, and French-inspired dishes that incorporate ingredients handpicked from local vendors and growers. Dinner-eating patrons can nosh on from-scratch sushi such as the chirashi—a barrage of sashimi folded over sushi rice ($16)—that pairs with house-made soy sauce containing 50% less sodium than generic brands and 15% less soy than a Spanish-language newspaper. Sink incisors into organic jidori chicken breast topped with a garlic cream sauce ($18).
Early birds perk up with breakfast bites, including the macha french toast, green-tea-flavored slices served with two eggs and a side of meat or fruit ($9), and sake rice, a concoction of sushi, rice, and salmon topped with sliced tamagoyaki and sea-sourced weeds ($10). Sip a glass of wine or sake from 2G's extensive drink menu while soaking in the eatery's atmosphere, which mimics a modern izakaya, or Japanese pub.
2G Japanese Brasserie
A little sauce and a dash of seasoning can make a world of difference. That's something that Tokyo-trained Toshio Oguma takes to heart. At 2G Japanese Brasserie, the sushi chef carefully marinates his fish in everything from soy sauce and rice wine to kombu—a type of kelp—in a preparation method that he and SF Weekly call "old-style," before selecting complementary seasonings. Then come the sauces—sweet sauce brushed over scallops, mirin-sweetened soy sauce on octopus, a spicy mayo on crab and salmon. His menu encompasses sashimi, nigiri, and rolls made with ingredients such as sea urchin and tuna, available a la carte or as part of a chef's choice tasting dinner.
But the sushi bar isn't alone in its use of sauce and spice. Kitchen entrees fold these, as well as local ingredients, into their Japanese classicism, churning out fried yellowtail collar and sizzling chicken hearts on a hot plate—dishes that evoke the atmosphere of an izakaya, or traditional Japanese tavern. Still, certain items bely the French-California training of the head chef. The duck, for instance, fans out across roasted eggplant with a honey-miso reduction spooned overtop, and baby-back ribs bring to mind family cookouts and hours spent soaking in a kiddie pool full of barbecue sauce.