I've heard a lot about Cassava in the last few years and finally made it over to the Avenues in Outer Richmond for the Japanese breakfast. To my knowledge, it is the only traditional Japanese breakfast offered in the Bay Area, and absolutely worth the trip.
Cassava opened in 2012 (just like Umami Mart!) by a husband and wife team, Kris Toliao and Yuka Ioroi. It is a bright and charming space with an open kitchen. The service is awesome too – I'm reading on their site that every staff members starts in the back of the kitchen; everyone cooks, serves, and works the cash register. They share tips and are all involved in every facet of the restaurant. I love this!
Originally from Shizuoka, Japan, Yuka says that they put a Japanese breakfast on the menu because it's what she and Kris wanted for breakfast. Makes sense!
The breakfast menu is served cafe style, meaning you go up to the register to order. They have an expanded selection of breakfast dishes like a croissant sandwich and granola + yogurt – there's even a hearty Continental breakfast. But the star of the show here is the Japanese breakfast:
The basic Japanese breakfast comes with Koshihikari rice, miso soup with onsen tamago (lightly poached egg), and a wakame salad. Add-ons include a market grilled fish and natto by local Japanese fermenter Aedan. I ordered both.
The fish on this day was salmon marinated with sake and miso. The egg was excellently prepared, with a ladle full of dashi (they use the clear portion of the miso soup). Aedan's natto is a special treat – always so fresh and firm. To add an extra splash of tartness, Chef Kris adds lemon to the natto.
I truly enjoyed this meal, it reminded me of being at my aunt's house in Yokohama, where breakfast is a grand event every day. What a treat to experience this in San Francisco!
Yuka handles the drinks list and Chef Kris has a fine dining background, as well as time spent as an apprentice at a kaiseki restaurant in Tokyo. They serve brunch on the weekends, and their dinner menu rotates monthly, offering a four-course tasting menu for only $42! Cassava is a wonderful neighborhood restaurant that should be on everyone's radar.
3519 Balboa Street
San Francisco, CA 94121