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Ryoko’s Latenight Tendernob Sushi












If you like eating raw fish below street level, two options come to mind.  The first: Sushi Time, a tiny shoe box crammed into the corner of a small subterranean plaza in The Castro.  If that sounds like a recipe for a claustrophobia-related panic attack, try the second: Ryoko’s, a long-time Tendernob favorite and today’s subject.  Where Sushi Time has the feel of a subway car lying abandoned among the ruins of a post-apocalyptic landscape, Ryoko’s has the atmosphere of a brothel or opium den.  Coming down the stairs, it’s hard to make out where the place ends.  They manage to jam tables into odd nooks that you might have missed on first glance, and what seems like another room turns out to be you and your surroundings reflected in a well-polished mirror (and vice/versa).  In keeping with the den of iniquity metaphor, the staff are adept hustlers, up-selling wherever possible and making damned sure you’re never without some liquid to keep the buzz rolling.  Caution: my four friends and I received several items we were sure weren’t ordered, but they were so insistent upon the contrary that we just shrugged and grabbed ankle.

Ryoko’s isn’t a destination for any serious food geek, but it’s not at all bad and it’s cheap.  Plus, they have some pretty freakish shit, like a roll which combines peanut butter with jalapeño, among other things.  Available, to my surprise, was Ankimo (monkfish liver) and it was very good.  Another favorite: fried shrimp heads.

I didn’t check, but I doubt they take reservations.  It’s strictly turn and burn.  If you ain’t drinking and eating like a lord, you’ll start to notice the waitress hovering nearby, clicking her nails against the wall as she glances back at the hordes of people filing down the steps to register their name on a long wait list.   Oh, I almost forgot: Ryoko’s is open til 2 a.m.  Enter drunk, stay drunk and you’ll enjoy the food  and the bizarre vibe that much more.


619 Taylor Street (@ Cosmo)

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I grew up in San Jose, only 50 minutes away from S.F. My dad, brother and I came up often to visit family and/or to fart around, and whenever the car came over the rise on Hwy. 101 just after Candlestick Park, I could hear an almost audible "Click" in my brain. The blinding, beautifully rolling blanket of diverse urbanity spread out before our speeding automobile, coupled with draughts of the clean, cool air conspired to instill in me a growing discontent with San Jose. Add access to hitherto unknown strata of music, booze and food culture, not to mention pet-deification and testicular-separators, and I couldn't be kept away for long. Even after ten years of residency, the sight of a glistening pair of moose-knuckles swinging down Market St. still makes my heart swell with pride.

  • suburbanite

    Ummm, i love ryoko’s, but in what world is it cheap?

    2 pieces of sashimi is $5-7, a roll is $9-15.