Minako, the owner recognizes me because I've been to her restaurant so many times. This time, she confessed to me and my first-timer friend that she was a little bit frazzled because most of the customers, contrary to the norm, were also first timers; she had to explain the system to them, they didn't get it, and thank you for not being a familiar face, she said. She then chided me for asking if the Hamachi Mint could be made gluten free. "We only have three things on the menu that can't be made gluten free!" She exclaimed.
She's a character no doubt, and it was nice to be appreciated as a regular customer. She brought us some yummy snacks-pickled cauliflower and some sort of fermented and spicey noodle like veggie things. Yum!
Are you wondering why do I keep coming back? First of all, she really gets gluten contamination. Also, there's something for everyone- besides being so gluten free and celiac friendly, she uses organic foods, and has many vegan options.
The main reason I go back is for the gluten free Chicken Katsu. I don't know if there is anywhere else you can get that. And her's is damn good. Her mom even makes the Katsu sauce from scratch, so that it is gluten free. This is another reason I love this place. It's a small family business and I love that she knows and appreciates her customers. Additionally this is probably also the only place with gluten free inari (tofu pocket stuffed with rice). They only use gluten free tamari there, that's all you'll find in the bottles on the table. The inari is made with this. While the inari there isn't as stellar as the chicken Katsu, its still great and I get it everytime.
The sushi at Minako's is not my favorite. Some of the rolls are huge, and hard to eat. The rice is brown rice, which, while very healthy, is not my favorite for sushi. However, I usually get the small sized spicy tuna roll - pretty darned good and still a rare treat since gluten contamination at sushi restaurants is such a problem.
I love Minako and her food! This is my favorite gluten-free and celiac friendly restaurant in San Francisco hands down. I will keep coming back over and over just like the majority of her customers!