To my delight, and cautious anticipation, we returned from Japan to a number of Izakayas opening in San Francisco. We loved these establishments in Japan, known for providing beer, sake and small noshing plates to their patrons. Roughly translated, the kanji for Izakaya 居酒屋 indicates sake-selling establishment (酒 - sake-ya). We already have Nombe in the Mission, Bushi-Tei Bistro and O Izakaya in Japantown, Halu in the Inner Richmond and Izakaya Sozai in our neighborhood, the Inner Sunset.* And perhaps because Izakayas are the New Big Thing, there appear to be a number of these bar-and-small-plates restaurants opening in our area over a fairly short span of time. And I of course want to check them all out. Kasumi is in the Outer Sunset on Ocean and has, thus far, received some somewhat tepid reviews. Chotto, in the Marina, is in a part of the city we don't much like to frequent. So Nojo -- in our old stomping grounds of Hayes Valley -- won out. Chef Greg Dunmore reached the Bay Area by way of Atlanta, a graduate of the CIA in Hyde Park, NY. Dubbed a rising star chef in 2006 by the SF Chronicle, he first worked at the Michelin-starred Terra with Hiro Sone and Lissa Doumani who mentored him in Japanese cuisine. Sone soon asked him to become executive chef of Ame (Asian fusion at the St. Regis Hotel), where he stayed for 4 years and also earned a Michelin. After realizing he had a passion for Japanese yakitori and izakaya-style cooking, he's now opened his own Izakaya-style establishment. Nōjō, the japanese word for farm (農場), brings together this passion and reflects his commitment to small farms and seasonal ingredients. It's important to note however, that the food at Nojo seems to be distinctly Californian and heavily influenced by Japan, not the other way around.