No. 8: Pork Skewers at Halu

Categories: SFoodie's 92
Halu_pork_duo.jpg
Albert Law/porkbellystudio
Halu's tontoro (left) and bacon-wrapped mochi.
SFoodie's countdown of our 92 favorite things to eat and drink in San Francisco, 2011 edition.

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Most studio apartments are bigger than Shigemi and Mimi Komiyama's tiny, personal restaurant, and signs of Shigemi's adoration of the Beatles are everywhere -- the walls, the shelves, the television, the soundtrack. The Komiyamas hustle about the kitchen, but the mood is definitely chill. There's a reason that most of the customers order a couple of big beers up front, slowly pouring them into tiny glasses as they wait for plates of ramen, kushikatsu (deep-fried skewers), and yakitori to trickle out from the kitchen.

San Francisco doesn't lack for ramen, kushikatsu, and yakitori these days. In fact, San Francisco doesn't lack for iterations of Halu's two best skewers: the pork jowl, or tontoro, and the bacon-wrapped mochi. It's just that they taste better here than anywhere else.

The striations of fat and lean in the pork jowl are tightly bound together, and as the meat cooks on the grill -- seasoned only with a little salt and pepper -- the fat melts and sizzles, but stays encased in the taut layers of lean. That is, until you bite in, when the tontoro crunches, the binds break, and a spurt of melted fat floods the mouth.

The porcine shell of the bacon-wrapped mochi grills up even more crisp, constricting around a small chunk of rice cake and binding it to the skewer. The molten mochi resembles nothing more than fresh mozzarella, creamy and sticky, seasoned with a potent hit of salt, smoke, and pork. A bacon-wrapped mochi stand belongs in the Minnesota State Fair's famous gallery of foods on a stick. It also belongs on the table with tiny glasses of Sapporo, the white album playing in the background.

Halu: 312 Eighth Ave. (at Clement), 221-9165.

Other favorites in this series:

92: Goat tacos from El Norteño
91: Faux shark's fin soup at Benu
90: Esperpento's alcachofas a la plancha
89: Poco Dolce's olive oil chocolate bar
88: Decantr's chicken-liver mousseline
87: Outerlands' levain bread
86: Fraîche's frozen yogurt
85: Gyro King's spinach pie
84: Tandoori fish from Lahore Karahi
83: Braised oxtail and daikon from Namu
82: Golden Gate Bakery's custard tarts
81: Commonwealth's cured foie gras with umeboshi purée
80: Star Stream's Liège-style waffle
79: Mexican hot chocolate from La Oaxaqueña
78: Meatball sandwich from Mario's Bohemian Cigar Store Cafe
77: Cheesecake from Zanze's
76: Chicken pepian at San Miguel
75: Macau iced coffee at Vega/Special Xtra
74: Comstock Saloon's Pisco Punch
73: Hai Ky Mi Gia's duck leg noodle soup
72: Sauerbraten at Walzwerk
71: Boudin noir at Cafe Bastille
70: Blackstrap molasses gingerbread at Lotta's Bakery
69: Plow's crispy potatoes
68: Prospect's Catcher in the Rye
67: Pork banh mi from Little Vietnam Cafe
66: Nakaochi at Ippuku
65: Sidekick's chocolate spritzer
64: Farmhouse Culture's horseradish-leek sauerkraut
63: Destination Baking Co.'s challah
62: Cotogna's roasted carrots
61: Hard Knox Cafe's chicken and waffles
60: The Rebel Within from Tell Tale Preserve Co.
59: The Slanted Door's Whiskey Cocktail
58: Carnitas burrito from Taqueria San Francisco
57: Sakura mochi from Benkyodo
56: Birria at Gallardos
55: BBQ pork skewers at Fil-Am Cuisine
54: JapaCurry's katsu curry
53: Vegan flan at Gracias Madre
52: Cinderella Bakery's pelmeni
51: Locavore's maple andouille sausage
50: Lumpia from Hapa SF
49: Moonlight Brewing's Reality Czeck
48: Filetti pizza at Una Pizza Napoletana
47: Pupusas revueltas at La Santaneca
46: Khoresht ghaymeh at Maykadeh
45: Los Muertos at Gitane
44: Sandwich cookies from Sweet Constructions
43: Nicasio Valley Cheese Company's square
42: Nopalito's quesadilla roja
41: Croissant from Sandbox Bakery
40: Cultured's burdock kasu-zuke pickles
39: Sticky chewy chocolate ice cream at Swensen's
38: Maverick's warm Brussels sprouts with slow-cooked egg
37: Roast chicken from Limón Rotisserie
36: Seven Hills' raviolo uovo
35: Morning bun from Pinkie's Bakery
34: Kaw soi dok at Mandalay
33: Fatted Calf's meatloaf sandwich
32: Duck larb at Thai House Express
31: Lark Creek Steak's burger
30: Barbacco's chicken thighs with olives and almonds
29: Mow Lee's lap cheong
28: Dollar oysters at Bar Crudo
27: Fava greens from Tairwa'-Knoll Farms
26: Nopa's mussels with harissa
25: Salt-and-pepper crab at Kam Lok
24: Recchiuti Confections' caramels to the third power
23: Mandarin lamb from Old Mandarin Islamic Restaurant
22: Tataki and Tataki South's faux-nagi
21: Blacksmith Cellars' chenin blanc
20: Sardine and avocado toasts at Contigo
19: Chocolate babka French toast from Wise Sons
18: Pralines from Southern Sweets
17: Wayfare Tavern's steak tartare
16: Russian River Brewing's Consecration Ale
15: Kimchi burrito from John's Snack and Deli
14: Adesso's lonza
13: Bean-paste stew at To Hyang
12: Stuffed apricots at Pera
11: Chicken milanesa torta at Boos Voni
10: Oboro tofu at Eiji
9: Chocolate-pistachio landscape at Atelier Crenn

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1 comments
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Carina Ost
Carina Ost

I am obsessed with the bacon wrapped mochi at Izakaya Sozai, I say: Dish Duel! Throwing down the gauntlet

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