Ryoko’s reveals a different kind of romance: that hip, secret, stimulating, only-for-San-Francisco-locals kind of eroticism. The subterranean Japanese restaurant is pumping on weekends but weeknights are mellower. Swathed in blue, intimate tables are scattered in dark nooks and crannies, and though the energy is high, the volume is muted so you can easily focus on just you and your sexy date. Sushi cuts are generous, and rolls can be extremely innovative (up to you whether to try the spicy jalapeño and peanut butter roll). They also offer a host of other Japanese specialties, many of which are vegetarian-friendly. It’s quite a steal when you combine the food, 007 ambiance, and playful servers. If you’re having an intense secret affair, this is your place.
Image: Kevin Revolinski
The Deck definitely has the setting. The Chao Phraya River is a real charmer at night and the open-air deck (hence the name?) looks right over the water toward Wat Arun, which lights up at night. It’s a small restaurant — not one of those expansive riverside terraces with dozens of wait staff squeezing past your chair back — and the place gives you a bit more intimacy than most. The food has a touch of Thai and some Italian influences and the prices are reasonable, with most dishes coming in under 300 baht. Before or after the meal, settle in at the rooftop bar for a slightly better view with a cocktail in hand.
Head to Karaköy fish market, next to Haliç. Your restaurant here will be nameless. Buy your fish at the market and show up at this nameless restaurant or just go to the restaurant and order whatever the daily catch is. The place is decorated simply with wooden tables and plastic chairs. You’ll sit in the open air and the staff will provide a heater under the table to brace you against the cold weather. This place is always open; rainy weather will just mean you’ll be sitting beneath an umbrella.