Restaurants, bars, movie theaters, dessert spots, parking… Japantown has all the makings for a great night out. Enjoy an elegant Thai dinner, take in a mainstream American movie, indulge in tasty J-Pop inspired desserts, and end the night on a high note at a Korean Karaoke bar; a multi-cultural date all in one place. With plenty of outdoor seating The Peace Plaza is a perfect meeting place and watching the sun set behind the Pagoda can be a romantic start to the evening. And, if the weather turns inclement, the Japan Center malls offer a comfortable place to stroll indoors.
Impress your date with Omakase, where the chef selects the meal. Oma San Francisco Station and An Japanese Restaurant offer such intimate, gourmet dining experiences. Nari serves ambience with scrumptious Thai cuisine and delectable drinks. For a fun, interactive meal, shabu shabu and Korean dining offer tabletop cooking. Shabusen, Mums, and Daeho are definitely for meat lovers, but vegetarian options are available. If you like to be entertained, Izumi Kaiten, Sushi, and Tenroku are popular conveyor belt sushi bars and Hikari Sushi & Bar serves dishes via a miniature bulletin train. There are also plenty of popular ramen spots to choose from, if you’re not daunted by slurping noodles in front of your date.
AMC Kabuki 8 shows all the latest films and they also have full-service seat delivery meals and snacks. And, the theater’s MacGuffins’ Bar serves specialty cocktails, craft beer, and premium wine. New People Cinema, home of the Japan Film Festival, shows independent films and hosts events that are especially appealing to J-Pop fans.
Many of the shops in the mall are open late, especially on weekends. Browse Forest Books, Kinokuniya or any of the gift shops well into the night. Stop by Pika Pika, to capture a memory of your special evening. The photo studio has a variety of fun backgrounds and decorations for your date photo.
For a sweet date, innovative dessert spots include Murata’s Café Hana, an Asian influenced coffee bar, mochi donuts at Mochill Mochi, Uji Time Dessert for Japanese soft serve ice cream, and Macha Café Maiko serves everything green tea and more. Belly Good Café has dessert crepes as well as savory and Chocolate Chair serves made-to-order liquid nitrogen ice cream and “Dragon Breath” ™”, a novelty dessert which releases a thick fog when eaten.
If the night is still young, karaoke is alive and well in Japantown at DoReMi Music Studio, Festa Wine & Cocktail Lounge, IchiPub, Mogura, and Pagoda Cafe. Still hungry? Pa’ina Lounge & Restaurant and the The Bar at Hotel Kabuki serve late-night meals as well as posh drinks.
Japantown is also a charming neighborhood for daytime dates. For a spiritual start to the day, Forest Books offers Zen meditation every Saturday morning at 10am. Paper Tree has an origami lab with classes available on request and The Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California offers a variety of workshops from cooking to flower arranging. Complete the day with a cuppa at Crown and Crumpet where Afternoon Tea is served until just after 5pm.
Whether day or late into the night, with so much going on in Japantown, it’s an easy destination for a special date or a casual meet up. Choosing just one, or two, or three things to do might be the most challenging part of the date.