Number 3: Koo's Spoonful of Happiness

Albert Law/porkbellystudio
Koo's Spoon of Happiness (yes, it's really two spoons of happiness).
SFoodie's countdown of our favorite 50 things to eat and drink, 2012 edition

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When Kiyoshi Hiyakawa opened his Inner Sunset sushi bar Koo in 2004, he hoped to escape the cutely termed, Americanized rolls of his former employer, Tokyo Gogo, and instead offer a more traditional selection of fish catered toward sushi purists. For the most part, he's succeeded. However, Koo's most popular, and in our opinion most enchanting item has perhaps the most gimmicky of names: Spoonful of Happiness.

"Spoonful" should be plural, as Hiyawaka actually creates two spoons separated by a shot of house sake.  We opt to start with the ladel of sweet uni topped with a quail egg and spiked with a dash of tobiko ponzu. It slides down the throat all too easily, leaving an aftertaste of tart brine. Next, we shoot the sake straight down in a single gulp, utilizing its palate-cleansing capability, not to mention an instant buzz, before continuing on. Finally, we slurp spoon number two, a small hunk of ankimo (monkfish liver) sheathed in a thin slice of whitefish and finished with a few droplets of truffle oil. Fortunately, the truffle oil doesn't overwhelm the ingredients, but instead adds to the earthiness of the monkfish liver, stirring up pleasant memories of a Jewish grandma's chopped liver. 

Each of these bites taken separately, including the shot of sake, easily charms the taste buds. Experienced all together though, the Spoonful of Happiness is a prime illustration of how a little bit of fusion and a lot creativity can really triumph.

Koo: 408 Irving (at 5th Ave.), 731-7077,

Other favorites in this series:
4. Falafel from Sunrise Deli
5. Smitten's chocolate ice cream
6. Josey Baker's black pepper-parmesan loaf
7. Hakka Restaurant's stuffed tofu
8: Al pastor burrito from Taqueria La Alteña
9: Pizza focaccia from Liguria Bakery
10: Boxing Room's dirty rice
11: Wing Wingschicken salad biscuit
12: Pamonha de sal from Pamonha's
13: Kasa Indian Truck's gobi aloo kati roll
14: Delfina's trippa alla fiorentina
15: Truffled tater tots from Leatherneck Steakhouse
16: Baia Pasta's durum-wheat pastas
17: Z&Y's flaming fish with chile oil
18: Auntie April's fried catfish
19: None but the Brave from Heaven's Dog
20: Saha's vegan kibbeh
21: Starter Bakery's hazelnut kouign amann
22: Pupusas at Cafe and Restaurant Montecristo
23: 2 a.m. apple fritter at Bob's
24: Le Sanctuaire's vadouvan
25: Crab louis salad at Nettie's Crab Shack
26: Soy sauce chicken from Happy Bakery & Deli
27: Locanda's Jewish-style artichoke
28: Local: Mission Eatery's asparagus-egg sandwich
29: Memphis Minnie's 18-hour brisket
30: Custard buns from City View
31: Mission Chinese Food's kung pao pastrami
32: Panisse frites from Frances
33: Izakaya Yuzuki's chawanmushi
34: Fatted Calf's chorizo
35: Silvanas from House of Silvanas
36: Linden Street Brewery's black lager
37: Aged oolongs from Red Blossom Tea Company
38: Broken Record's crawfish grits
39: Cebiche mixto from La Mar 
40: Nutella-hazelnut hand pie from Black Jet Baking Co.
41: Fifth Floor's burger
42: Perbacco's agnolotti dal plin
43: Iced coffee from Sightglass
44: Cypress Grove's Purple Haze Chevre
45: Lechon from Tastebuds Cuisine
46: Duck with beets from AQ
47: Tai nigiri at ICHI Sushi
48: Fish with explosive chiles from Spices! 
49: Baker & Banker Bakery's blueberry cream cheese muffin
50: Kufta tajine from Cafe Zitouna

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Location Info




408 Irving, San Francisco, CA

Category: Restaurant

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