By Emma Krasov, photography by Yuri KrasovRocketfish Japanese Tapistro and Lounge is a new kid on the block of Potrero Hill favorites and old-times, hence the fancy name that includes a comics-style notion of a fueled iron fish, and a combination of “tapas-bistro-sushi-party lounge, and more!” The festive full bar presents a visual guarantee that party will go on, with a long list of creative cocktails – like a special Hot Rocket (tequila, lime, basil, jalapeno), plus beer, wine, and sake.Among food specials, a garlic-lime sautéed Pig Ear might share a blackboard with Baby Zucchini Blossom Tempura served with a daikon radish-infused soy-mirin sauce, or Soft Shell Blue Crab enhanced with salsa mayo.
Chef Kenichi Kawashima and general manager Marco Rodriguez who co-own the place, say they were looking for the right location for a long time, and now are happy here, on the corner of 18th and Connecticut, obviously attracting a discerning crowd by pursuing bold concepts and masterful execution of Japanese-Californian small plates.
From succulent Chicken Skewers in teriyaki sauce to Monterey Bay Calamari served in a cone, like fancy fries with chilies and seaweed, every preparation is inspired, delicious, and nicely presented.The star of this reporter’s dinner on Sunday night was Walu Carpaccio, presenting delicate Hawaiian butterfish in pliable slices, folded like flower petals, and topped with seasalt lemon confit, capers, green jalapeno vinaigrette, and purple sprouts.The subtle taste and texture of the fish were perfectly played out by the garnish, distinct and intriguing, but never overpowering.
If gelato is not what you are looking forward to in a Japanese restaurant, think again. The very first bite of green tea ice-cream accompanied by anise-steamed fruit, took me back to the San Francisco famous Kabuki Spa, where I once indulged in my birthday present – a fragrant green tea bath – an epitome of calm and relaxation. Delightful!Rocketfish Japanese Tapistro and Lounge is located at 1469 18th Street, San Francisco. Call for reservations (415) 282-9666, or visit www.rocketfishlounge.com.