My weekend trip to San Fran basically revolved around eating as much yummy food as possible and trying my best not to think about how much money I was spending or how constantly overly-full I was most of the time. So Sunday, the day I was to leave, when the vegan couple behind me in line at the Butcher’s Son in Berkeley told me their absolute favorite restaurant was Shizen, I decided I’d find a way to fit it in even though my brunch itself was probably enough calories to last my entire daily intake and then some.
I arrived around 5:15pm after the restaurant had opened at 5 to find myself quoted a 30 minute wait. My phone was at 3% battery, and with no plugs in site, I handed it over to the hostess and settled into the waiting area with my kindle, sans wifi. As I checked in after 45 minutes, I was told there were still 4 couples ahead of me, but that I was first in line for the bar. After an hour of wait, I began to get antsy and requested to retrieve my phone. Finally, I got a text that my table was ready, but when I arrived back to the hostess stand to be seated, she decided the table I was originally going to get would be better suited for a couple, and I waited another 15 minutes before finally escorted to a table. I was rather annoyed, but got over it once I saw the menu.
I’d seen plates going by as I waited, and knew for certain I would need to try the Brussels. After all, they are one of my favorite vegetables and they come served on a cast iron skillet with spicy sauce on top. Amazing.
I asked my server for a recommendation from Shizen’s specialty roll list, and decided to try the Boddy and Soul roll. The Tofu on top reminds me of a smoked salmon, and the special sauce is like a vegan version of spicy mayo. This roll is complex and has a lot going on down to the tempura fry, and I definitely would recommend it to others.
I also wanted to try the Colonel’s Pipe roll, which contains vegan cream cheese, asparagus, and avocado, and is topped with smoked beet. I’m a fan of all four, but I have to say I mostly wanted to try it to see how the cream cheese compared to the real thing as I remembered it, and this substitute really did fit the bill with its super creamy texture and on-point flavor. I read some reviews claiming the smoked beet tasted like smoked salmon, and feel obligated to dismiss that statement as false – though if you like beets, you’ll still like this roll. This one was a lot lighter in contrast to the Boddy and Soul, too.
If you can get past the wait, I would highly recommend this joint in SF’s mission district for a delicious sushi and Japanese inspired dinner.
If you’ve been, what did you order?