Spaghetti with bottarga, the must-order at La Ciccia.
I live on the border of Noe Valley and the Castro and though I love our views (oh, the rainbow on Thursday!) and I love our weather, I really miss having a good selection of Asian food nearby. For that, you must drive—to the outer Sunset, to the outer Richmond, to the Tenderloin.
However, there are a couple new restaurants giving me hope. The first one—K-Pop—opened in the late fall. A Korean restaurant in the heart of the Castro is far more exotic of a bird than all the feathers and boas sold in total at Cliff's Variety, which is located next door. Even if "Gangham Style" hadn't gone viral, I would have found myself here, mesmerized by the flat-screen TV which is indeed streaming a constant flow of videos of Korean pretty boys and girls, dancing around and mouthing words. I didn't love the fried chicken, but I did like the jap chae and the bibimbap—which is a dish I think I could eat every day. The whole experience was made even better by our great server.
Another fun new spot is Izakaya Roku (1819 Market St. at Pearl St.). To me, Roku is what an izakaya should be—totally unprecious, full of half-drunk people drinking sake, or beer, or soju—or all three—taking group pictures of themselves doing so, and generally having a good time. The food goes well with half-drunk: including fried chicken, cut into strips, and served with a boatload of tartar sauce, a lemon wedge, and a little nest of thinly-sliced cabbage. I turned up my nose at it. And then I tasted it and proceeded to pour myself more Sapporo from our pitcher and enjoyed every last, crispy, creamy bit. Even better was the "devil tofu," made with cubes of bland, cold, delicate tofu punched up with togarashi, sesame seeds, ginger, green onions, and chile oil. From the yakitori selections, we had the additively chewy-salty-sweet combo that is mochi wrapped in bacon, plus some chicken wings. A bowl of chicken meatballs with rice was also good.
Though I didn't dare to try any of them, the restaurant features a lot of mozzarella dishes on the menu, and something they called Japanese carbonara. Next time. The bill came and for three people it was under $70. I'm officially a Roku convert.