Steamed monkfish liver rivals the finest foie gras
In Review

Izakaya Hashibiro Kou

1560 Fillmore (at Geary), San Francisco
Review by Janice Nieder
Zen-cool Izakaya Hashibiro Kou
Zen-cool Izakaya Hashibiro Kou

First off, I’m sure many of you are scratching your head with a “say what?” expression, so if you haven’t had the pleasure of dining in an Izakaya, here’s the breakdown.

What is an Izakaya (pronounced ee-ZAH-ka-ya)?

Think Japanese gastropub crossed with a creative tapas bar generating a high-octane party vibe, which equals the perfect place for hanging out with your friends. The name literally means “stay sake shop” so grab a seat (or one of the four private tatami rooms) and plan on staying for a while.


The brand spanking new Izakaya Hashiburo Kou is located on the corner of Fillmore & Geary. Only a block from the Kabuki, it’s perfect for après-film.

Previously, this was a nondescript, cavernous Korean restaurant. Nine months of tasteful tender loving care has led to the birth of one hip, zen-like, bring-the-outdoors-in (complete with a living plant wall and reclaimed wood) baby. Love the long counter seating where you can watch Chef Nick and the team in action.


Izakaya Kou is in its soft opening phase, so the menu is still evolving, but I’d suggest you RUN down ASAP, because after trying over a dozen beautifully plated small dishes last night, even if they don’t change a single thing I’d still be deliriously happy.


One of Nick's younger fans aka his daughter
One of Nick’s younger fans aka his daughter

South Korean-born chef-owner Nick Yoon refined his culinary skills over the last 15 years with stints at the Ritz Carlton and the W Hotel. His contemporary cuisine is a fusion of Japanese and Korean utilizing the freshest farmer’s market ingredients. Chef Nick, along with all the rest of the staff, could not be friendlier or more anxious to please.


With close to 100 items on the current menu, organized by categories such as Grilled, Fried, and Yakitori, it’s fun to try a few dishes from each.  Depending on how adventuresome an eater you are, you can go the safe & sane sushi/sashimi route or spoke-out with some “I’m eating WHAT???” selections.

Safe & Sane

Impeccably fresh and artistically presented, you won’t go wrong with:

Still-life beauty
Still-life beauty

Kou Sashimi salmon, Hawaiian big eye tuna, and yellowtail

Pristine Yellowtail
Pristine Yellowtail

Hamachi Carpaccio yellowtail with chili and mint dressing

Momo chicken thigh yakitori

Gindara Misozuke miso marinated black cod

Or “I’m eating what???”

However, if you wimp out you’ll miss some life-changing bites such as:

Steamed monkfish liver rivals the finest foie gras
Steamed monkfish liver rivals the finest foie gras

Ankimo steamed monkfish liver w/ponzu

Salmon Skin Katsu salmon skin with scallions

Ika Tonbi squid mouth w/spicy-mayo

Three day marinade elevated raw king prawn to nectar from the gods status
Three day marinade elevated raw king prawn to nectar from the gods status

Kuruma Ebi Zuke raw king prawn in soy sauce marinade served w/onigiri

Lizard Eye speaks for itself
Lizard Eye speaks for itself

Lizard Eye– spicy tuna and asparagus on dried seaweed with whole-grain mustard apple sauce has already achieved a cult following

Fish roe don perfect for dessert
Fish roe don perfect for dessert

And for “dessert” finish off with Fish Roe Don tobiko, ikura, and vegetables over rice, which is even better than a hot-fudge sundae.


In true Izakaya form, there is a fabulous selection of sake available by the glass (which is served inside a wooden box) or the bottle. I chose the ultra dry Otokoyama Man’s Mountain that paired nicely with all my dishes. They also offer cocktails made from sake or shochu, along with beer and wine.

Final thought:

Hashibiro Kou is defined as: the largest bird that can fly and after last night’s meal, I assure you that this baby has some serious wingspan!

San Francisco Food News, Restaurant ReviewsIzakaya Hashibiro Kou

1560 Fillmore (at Geary)
(415) 441-9294


Sun  5:30 pm – 11:00 pm
Tues – Thurs  5:30 pm – 12:00 am
Fri – Sat  5:30 pm – 1:00 am

Janice Nieder
Janice Nieder could be the love child of Indiana Jones and Julia Child. Previously a specialty food consultant in NYC, Janice is currently a San Francisco-based culinary tourism writer who has wined & dined her way through 80 countries. To keep things in balance, Janice also enjoys writing about her Girlfriend Getaways which include spa visits, soft-core adventure, cultural events, shopping, boutique hotels, and chef interviews.