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Izakaya Yuzuki

A new Japanese spot improves on the primal satisfaction of meat on a stick.

As at other izakayas, you can down your share of chicken skewers and sake here, but this lovely, low-key restaurant provides much more than just another platform for getting stuffed and soused. Takashi Saito is both a chef and a caretaker, preserving Japanese traditions such as housemade tofu, an igloo-shaped serving of silken curds that you sprinkle with sea salt, bonito flakes, and soy sauce; and cooked-to-order rice, which takes 30 minutes and arrives perfectly sticky, on the right side of al dente, and studded with clams and salty orbs of salmon roe. The atmosphere is spare, but the welcoming staff provides all the warmth that you could ask for. Then there’s the intimacy of Saito’s cooking, which comes through in everything from miso-braised beef tendon to chicken meatballs, skewered and seasoned with a housemade mold called koji, which brings a dash of sweetness to the savory flavors. 598 Guerrero St. (at 18th St.), S.F., 415-556-9898 $$ DRW ***