Kiuchi Brewery dates back to 1823 as a sake brewery, but beer lovers know it as the home of Hitachino. The beloved beer’s first U.S. restaurant/bar opened this spring in San Francisco with rare kegs shipped across the Pacific. While some beer fans may just want a bar, Hitachino Beer & Wagyu is also an intimate dining destination. Chef Noriyuki Sugie (who has cooked at Michelin-starred restaurants from France to Japan, with Charlie Trotter in Chicago and as chef de cuisine at NYC’s award-winning Asiate) goes kappo-bar-style (meaning cut/raw and cooked/warm dishes) with elegant tasting menus and wagyu in many iterations, often using a teppan grill.
THE DRINK TO DRINK: There are 10 exclusive, rotating Hitachino beers on draft (like the delightful Dai-Dai Ale, a Japanese indigenous pale ale brewed with Fukure Mikan oranges), but don’t let that keep you from skipping the refined sakes and wines produced by the same family, rarely found on draft outside of Japan.
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO: For hard-core foodies, Sugie’s tasting menus (reservations necessary; $78 plus $30 for drink pairings) are worth going alone. Look for dreamy bites like American wagyu beef and rare bafun uni over silken tofu burrata in tomato dashi. But if you’re there mainly for the beer, the tiny, standing room kappo bar opens at 4:30 p.m., serving Tokyo-inspired bar snacks in glass sake jars and a la carte dishes.