Vegan sushi isn't usually that exciting. If I had a dime for every avocado roll I've consumed, I'd have a penthouse in the One Fifty Seven building in NYC. But, surprisingly, as I asked around, I heard rave reviews about this new vegan sushi bar in the Mission District so I couldn't pass up the opportunity to go there myself.
Shizen, a vegan sushi bar and izakaya, opened in January 2015 in the heart of San Francisco. I arrived fairly early on a Thursday night by myself and saw a line out the door. As I walked in, I glanced around and noticed a very small dining area and a small bar. They said there would be a wait for a table, but as a single diner, I could sit at the bar now. I chose the bar!
The food menu and sake menus are fairly extensive. I started off with a Hana Awake sake that I adored! Looking around, the decor was quite simple, but the living moss artwork definitely catches your attention on the walls. On the dinner menu, there are three pages of options -- all vegan. From small plates to varieties of sushi including nigiri, hosomaki, and uramaki to large specialty rolls, they have something for everyone.
I decided to order two dishes for dinner. I started with the Mushrooms Robata, a grilled assortment of enoki, shiitake, and king trumpet mushrooms. These were pretty good.
But, where the culinary skills really shined was in the Scarlet Smile roll. This huge roll was made with sweet potato tempura, avocado, spicy bean curd topped with roasted red pepper tofu sauce, and seaweed pearls. It just melted in my mouth it was so good.
I was pretty full, but when I saw that they offer one special dessert each night and there was only one left, I had to order it. This dessert was a meal in and of itself. Housemade blueberry ice cream with tempura bananas and fresh fruit with sauce -- incredible! I actually ate this all by myself and loved it. No judging.
As I looked around, all of the meals looked really good and I only wish I could have tried more. The specialty rolls range from $11 - $13 each and other rolls were much less, so given how good the food is, I think it is priced appropriately. The service was pretty good -- remember, I was at the bar. And the atmosphere was lively. They don't take reservations so you'd be wise to come here early on a weekend night. The people waiting outside when I left looked like they were in for a long wait, but one for which they felt it was worth. Can't wait to come back as they further develop their menu in the future.
370 14th Street
San Francisco, CA 94103