A lot of people still haven't experienced much Japanese cuisine beyond the standard sushi dinner and occasional ramen bowl, which is partially why the tiny (25 seats) non-sushi Japanese eatery Halu (312 8th Ave.) in the Inner Richmond is turning so many heads. Opened by husband-and-wife team Shigemi and Mimi Komiyama in June, Halu specializes in the seemingly infinite variations of yakitori (grilled skewers), kushi katsu (deep-fried skewers), and handmade ramen. "All are very popular in Japan, but not in San Francisco. Not yet, anyway," says Mimi Komiyama. "Everybody knows sushi, but people misunderstand. They think Japanese people only eat sushi. People have asked me that question many times. We don't serve any sushi at Halu." But if it can be grilled or deep-fried and stuck with a skewer ($3.50-$5.50 for two), chances are Halu serves it: everything from fried chicken with basil to beef tongue to scallops with bacon to stuffed mushrooms, not to mention chicken hearts, livers, gizzards, and thighs, as well as plenty of vegetarian offerings and a wide selection of cold sakes. Halu is open for dinner. For more info call 415-221-9165.
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