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Ten Ichi: Japanese Home Cooking in Pacific Heights 

Tuesday, Sep 23 2014
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If you've lived in San Francisco for many years, chances are you've walked by Ten Ichi on Fillmore and Clay. The sign, with its cresting blue waves beneath the restaurant name, is hard to miss. It's a place you might drop into for dinner before or after a film at the Clay, and has served its reliably good Japanese fare for over 35 years.

Sushi can be had — there's a curved sushi bar in the back — but where Ten Ichi shines is its home-style dishes: sukiyaki, yosenabe, udon, and donburi. This is food that comforts, fills your stomach, and doesn't put a huge strain on your wallet.

Inside, Ten Ichi has the look of a family restaurant: yellow walls hung with kimono art, glass-topped tables with white tablecloths underneath, burgundy banquettes with floral backrests, a fish tank with tiny (non-edible) sea creatures. A fountain trickles by the host station and smooth jazz plays; many of the customers are families with kids. It's a good place to settle in, drink a few cups of sake, and order something like salmon donburi.

Marinated sprouts that taste of pepper and sesame oil fill the bottom of the bowl. All around the bowl's perimeter are triangles of omelet, slightly sweet spinach with sesame seeds, chopped seaweed, diagonal cuts of steamed asparagus, and a pile of pink pickled cabbage. In the center: pieces of tender pink salmon brushed with teriyaki sauce, which sweetens the white rice below.

Each mouthful can combine several tastes, though the salmon is clearly the star. You might crave a bit more teriyaki sauce for your rice, but the modest amount seems in keeping with the beautiful simplicity of the dish. At around $15, this is moderately priced comfort food at its best (without the greasy, stomach-stretching regrets). And if you're craving dessert, there's always popcorn at the Clay Theatre.

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Julie Kramer

Julie Kramer

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