There are not many cuisines that you can’t find in San Francisco, and The City boasts many fine Japanese restaurants. One, Cha-Ya, is vegan, following the cooking style sometimes called “temple cuisine,” which is still served in some Buddhist temples in Japan. But, to illustrate the eclectic nature of San Francisco, this top-rated Japanese restaurant is not in Japantown, or along Geary Street, but in the Mission District, traditionally San Francisco’s Latino quarter, where Mexican restaurants lie next to Salvadoran bakeries.
The food at Cha-Ya is excellent, but, as with most Japanese restaurants in the SF area, tends to be more expensive than, for example, Thai or Chinese. However, while the sushi (all fish-free) is a bit pricey, there are a number of combination dinners that are quite reasonable. The only real problem the last time I went there was that they did not serve filtered water, so the water in my glass tasted, as tap water does in San Francisco due to the ancient water system, like a swimming pool. The tea and soups, however, taste lovely.
Cha-Ya is walking distance from BART, and on a couple of Muni lines, so it’s easy to get to. From EC San Francisco, it should take you about 20 minutes. Too far for lunch, but a great dinnertime option.