On an otherwise quiet Thursday evening, during that hiccup of stale weather before the actual weekend, everyone in Chome is already letting loose. Tunes from Chinese and Japanese pop bands echo through the dining room, the sound waves ricocheting off wooden walls adorned with recycled wine bottles stuffed with faux greenery. A crowd of young San Franciscans at happy hour use chopsticks to choose from tiny trays of potato salad, the school cafeteria-sized balls soft and stiff like the inside of a refrigerated casserole dish. An inverted melon flavored popsicle the color of honeydew flesh melts into my glass of soju and ice, and I can’t do much but absorb it all.
This izakaya opened last October, in a small space next to a Chinese bakery in San Francisco’s Mission district, and it’s a quirky, endearing pub that draws throngs of diners waiting to snag l one of his six tables night after night. It’s a place that doesn’t take itself seriously at all, although Chome’s quirky Japanese food and drink is executed with a clear desire to do it right.