Bon Nene

Set in a quaint French bistro, Bon Nene serves tiny meals that teeter between Japanese and Korean flavors using French techniques. The name draws from these multi-cultural influences: the word “bon” means “good” in French and “Nene” is the Japanese name of the co-owner’s dog.

Japanese choshoku set: grilled fish, rice ball, chickpea miso soup, natto (fermented soybeans), fruits salad, and tomago (Japanese egg omlette).

Japanese choshoku set: grilled fish, rice ball, chickpea miso soup, natto (fermented soybeans), fruits salad, and tomago (Japanese egg omlette).

On a dreary San Francisco day, I went to Bon Nene got the last open table for the Saturday brunch in a cozy 1,000 square foot establishment. Though we were lucky that we all snagged a seat, our timing was just moments too late as they only had one more Japanese choshoku set. This traditional Japanese breakfast set is only available on weekends, and given the tiny size of the restaurant, they only have a small number of these sets to sell to patrons. Disappointed, we ordered the last set and a couple of other dishes.

After nearly 45 minutes passed by, I walked to the restroom and took a glance at the kitchen right next to the bathroom door. To my surprise, just one cook hurriedly prepared all of the dishes behind a deli-style counter. I felt like I was no longer in a restaurant, but in someone’s tiny Manhattan kitchen.

Gyodon: thinly sliced kobe beef, cooked in sweet ginger soy sauce with onions, served over rice with a poached egg.

Gyodon: thinly sliced kobe beef, cooked in sweet ginger soy sauce with onions, served over rice with a poached egg.


When the food finally did arrive, true to Japanese form, the presentation fell nothing short of perfect. The dishes all came out with varying degrees of warmness however, probably due to one chef trying to cook and plate everything at the same time.

I loved the charming ambiance, but I cannot wholeheartedly recommend this spot. If you do come, make sure your appetite reflects the small portions and can withstand the long wait for food.

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Tofu bowl with lightly deep-fried tofu served over rice.

Tofu bowl with lightly deep-fried tofu served over rice.

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