Nestled deep in the Japantown mall is one of the most authentic japanese restaurants you’ll find in San Francisco, On the Bridge. Owned and started by Mitsuhiro Nakamura and his wife Yolanda Nakamura, On the Bridge has been around since 1992. “We’ve been around for 20 years, almost as old as me” jokes Mitsuhiro. He was born in Tokyo but his family soon moved to Ise to escape the bombings of 1945. After his father passed away in the war, Mitsuhiro had no choice but to learn how to cook in order to help his mother. He came to San Francisco in 1974 and met Yolanda at City College. “Not a lot of restaurants are Japanese owned anymore so we’re pretty rare.” Yolanda explains.
On the Bridge stands out in more ways than one. As you walk in, you’ll notice dozens of manga series lined on one side of the wall. The restaurant is famous for its Chicken Katsu and Locomoco but it also offers a wide variety of other Japanese dishes that the average sushi eating Americans might not be familiar with. Mitsuhiro tells me that contrary to popular belief, Japanese food in Japan does not only revolve around sushi. There are many other delicious dishes that often go ignored by the narrative of Japanese food in the US.
“Sometimes it’s difficult because people come in and ask for sushi and don’t understand when we say that’s not what we sell. But it’s funny because in Japan, this is the food I ate all the time!” explains Mitsuhiro.
He goes on to point out the extensive sake collection that resides in the bar back of On the Bridge, explaining the use and history of each type with passion. “Our sake collection is amazing but it’s very hard to market on food delivery services because there are fees for uploading each item and we have so many. So it’s much better to order in person with our phone number.” chimes in Emi, Mitsuhiro and Yolanda’s daughter.
Go to onthebridgesf.com or call them to place your to-go order for a delicious authentic Japanese meal and support this small business!