On an otherwise quiet Thursday night, during that stale hiccup of time before the actual weekend, everyone in Chome is already letting their hair down. Tunes by Chinese and Japanese pop groups blare in the dining room, the sound waves ricocheting off wooden walls decked out with recycled wine bottles stuffed with fake greenery. A happy hour crowd of young San Franciscans use chopsticks to pick through tiny platters of potato salad, the school cafeteria-size scoops pliant and stiff like the insides of a refrigerated casserole. An inverted melon-flavor popsicle the color of honeydew flesh melts into my glass of soju and ice, and I can’t do much else but take it all in.
This izakaya opened this past October, in a petite space next to a Chinese bakery in San Francisco’s Mission District, and it’s an endearing oddball of a pub that attracts crowds of diners waiting to snag one of its six tables night after night. It’s a place that doesn’t take itself very seriously at all, though Chome’s offbeat takes on Japanese food and drink are executed with a clear devotion to doing it right.