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[SF] Sushi


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#1 tanabutler

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Posted 13 September 2005 - 11:08 PM

To kick things off, sake lovers, check this out: Joy of Sake.

SAN FRANCISCO

September 15, 2005 ˇ 6:00 PM - 8:30 PM
Hotel Nikko San Francisco
222 Mason Street
$65 per person
Purchase Tickets

Join visiting brewers from Japan and sake enthusiasts from San Francisco and Japan to sample this year's newly released fall sakes. Over 180 sakes, including gold and silver award winners from this year's U.S. National Sake Appraisal will be featured. The Joy of Sake is the largest sake tasting held outside of Japan, and a rare opportunity to experience great sakes in peak condition.

Good food and fine sake are made to be enjoyed together. A splendid array of sake appetizers prepared by 14 outstanding restaurants provides an ideal accompaniment to the many fine daiginjo, ginjo and junmai sakes available for sampling.

Enjoy traditional and contemporary dishes from these fine restaurants: Anzu, Betelnut, Dining Room at Ritz Carlton, Hog Island Oyster, Hana, Memphis Minnie's, Kiku of Toyko, Kirala, Ozumo, Roy's, Sakae Sushi Bar & Grill, Sanraku, Sho's, and Sushi Ran.

Sponsored by:
The International Sake Association
Japan Airlines


That looks fantastic.

And now...sushi bars. Discuss?
"Nana, I just counted to infinity really fast!" Logan, age 5-1/2

#2 Aaron T

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Posted 17 November 2005 - 08:27 PM

Kiss Sushi is the smallest sit down sushi estalishment I have been to: 5 seats at the bar and 7 seats at 3 tables. There are two employees: the sushi chef and the waitress/hostess.

I ordered the omakase ($42) which comes with 6 courses and added the special of ikura ($7) to begin.

Ikura (salmon roe) is now in season and it was served in a bowl over a shiso leaf. The portion was large and a wooden spoon was provided to eat the roe. The roe was sweet and burst nicely. A delicious way to begin the meal.

The first course of the omakase was a persimmon, creamy tofu and Japanese greens dish. I have never had a dish quite like this and it was enjoyable with the flavor of the persimmon coming through clearly.

Next up was sashimi - about 5 kinds - including maguro, amber jack, tai and halibut. Very fresh - the maguro was outstanding.

Then bean curd stuffed with 2 kinds of fish and fried. Kind of like tofu/fish sausages. Not my favorite of the evening but not because it was poorly done - just not something I loved.

Next was Chawa Mushi - steamed egg custard with halibut. This would be a perfect dish on a cold night. Mmmm.

Next up was sushi - all very fresh and the sushi was nicely sized and in proportion to the rice.

Lastly was a miso soup with three kinds of mushrooms including enoki.

I had seen an order of toro go out earlier and based on the way it looked and the quality of the fish I tasted I had to have some so I had an order of toro (2 pieces) for dessert. It was $18, rather steep in comparison with the rest of the meal, but was buttery and utterly delicious.

Then he brought out a slice of honeydew cut up as real dessert.

I had asked for no shellfish and was easily accomodated.

The service was friendly and it was fun speaking with the sushi chef. The quality of the fish was high, the atmosphere is casual and for the quality, the price is more than reasonable. Most of the other customers there were Japanese. I would certainly return and hope to have that big bowl of salmon roe again soon!

Kiss is at 1700 Laguna St. at the corner of Sutter St.
"There just aren't many new "uptight" reservation places opening, especially in the neighborhoods where older, more sophisticated diners are trolling for youngish women." - Stone

My blog: Savory Hunter @ www.savoryhunter.com

#3 Aaron T

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Posted 17 November 2005 - 08:36 PM

I meant to mention that I had 2 types of sake. The first was a medium sake (between sweet and dry) and the second was called Oyama and was an unpasteurized (but not unfiltered) sake.* It had a distinctly different taste than the first sake and was enjoyable.

When they said unpasteurized I thought they meant unfiltered or cloudy sake and I said that was not something I like but they explained what they meant and I am glad I ave it a shot. Many years ago Rose and I had some cloudy sake at Jewel Bako which was just not to our liking and I have avoided it ever since!
"There just aren't many new "uptight" reservation places opening, especially in the neighborhoods where older, more sophisticated diners are trolling for youngish women." - Stone

My blog: Savory Hunter @ www.savoryhunter.com

#4 Aaron T

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Posted 22 November 2007 - 10:30 PM

Due to the long Thnksgiving weekend, I got out of work in town to go out to dinner last night and was craving sushi. There is a highly regarded place two blocks from my house, Sebo, on Hayes St. but it was closed for the holidays. I had looked online and there seemed to be a consensus that for traditional sushi, Ino was a top contender.

Car - this must be near you in Japantown. Ino is on Peace Plaza by Post & Buchanan Streets. There are 9-10 seats at the sushi bar and 12 seats at tables, so a pretty small restaurant. There is only one sushi chef, only one waitress/hostess and I believe another woman in the kitchen doing the dishes etc. I ordered a la carte, so it got moderately expensive - $70 for food + $7 for a large beer, + tax & tip was about $100 all in.

Began with miso soup, ordered the variety with seaweed, enoki and another kind of mushrooms. Then onto sushi. Salmon and ikura were my first order. As in LA (but not so often in ny) each order is two pieces. Both were nice. The salmon roe were on the small side but had a nice pop.

Second wave was orders of Spanish mackerel and tai.

Next up were orders of maguro and toro sushi. The toro was so buttery and rich, and it had a great marbled appearance. Yum.

Then hamachi and kanpachi. Both good but surprisingly the hamachi was better.

Ankimo for a dessert. A good version, but not as wonderful as the version at Echigo in LA.

Finished up with a piece of suzuki and a piece of hirame.

Enjoyable meal. Will better describe later.
"There just aren't many new "uptight" reservation places opening, especially in the neighborhoods where older, more sophisticated diners are trolling for youngish women." - Stone

My blog: Savory Hunter @ www.savoryhunter.com

#5 Carolyn Tillie

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Posted 22 November 2007 - 10:35 PM

QUOTE(Aaron T @ Nov 22 2007, 02:30 PM) View Post
Car - this must be near you in Japantown. Ino is on Peace Plaza by Post & Buchanan Streets. There are 9-10 seats at the sushi bar and 12 seats at tables, so a pretty small restaurant. There is only one sushi chef, only one waitress/hostess and I believe another woman in the kitchen doing the dishes etc. I ordered a la carte, so it got moderately expensive - $70 for food + $7 for a large beer, + tax & tip was about $100 all in.


Aaron, this and Fuku are probably my favorite sushi places IN J-town (I still prefer Tokaya up around the corner on Fillmore). The biggest complaint about Ino from Chowhounders and others is that he uses powdered wasabi and too much of it. That's okay for me and I can overlook that shortcoming as the fish is extremely fresh and he gets interesting types. I usually just tell him to keep serving me "interesting things" and putting myself in his hands, never really being disappointed. Yes, it does get expensive and I usually spend around $100 when I go there alone.

Fuku, BTW, is on the opposite end of the mall - upstairs near the bookstore and creperie. Worthy of a try!

#6 Aaron T

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Posted 25 November 2007 - 06:35 PM

QUOTE(Carolyn Tillie @ Nov 22 2007, 02:35 PM) View Post
Aaron, this and Fuku are probably my favorite sushi places IN J-town (I still prefer Tokaya up around the corner on Fillmore). The biggest complaint about Ino from Chowhounders and others is that he uses powdered wasabi and too much of it.


Ah. I meant to mention the wasabi. Yes, he uses powdered, which I can deal with as only a few of the best places use the good stuff. But the quantity of wasabi per piece was too much for me. I could feel it in my nose when I ate each bite. I resolved that on my next visit I am going to ask him to go light on the wasabi, as I think that will make the experience better. Have you tried that approach?

Is Tokaya your favorite sushi in the whole city? I'll try and check out Sebo, Fuku and Tokaya shortly as sushi is my favorite food. Anyplace else worth a detour?
"There just aren't many new "uptight" reservation places opening, especially in the neighborhoods where older, more sophisticated diners are trolling for youngish women." - Stone

My blog: Savory Hunter @ www.savoryhunter.com

#7 Carolyn Tillie

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Posted 25 November 2007 - 06:57 PM

QUOTE(Aaron T @ Nov 25 2007, 10:35 AM) View Post
QUOTE(Carolyn Tillie @ Nov 22 2007, 02:35 PM) View Post
Aaron, this and Fuku are probably my favorite sushi places IN J-town (I still prefer Tokaya up around the corner on Fillmore). The biggest complaint about Ino from Chowhounders and others is that he uses powdered wasabi and too much of it.


Ah. I meant to mention the wasabi. Yes, he uses powdered, which I can deal with as only a few of the best places use the good stuff. But the quantity of wasabi per piece was too much for me. I could feel it in my nose when I ate each bite. I resolved that on my next visit I am going to ask him to go light on the wasabi, as I think that will make the experience better. Have you tried that approach?

Is Tokaya your favorite sushi in the whole city? I'll try and check out Sebo, Fuku and Tokaya shortly as sushi is my favorite food. Anyplace else worth a detour?



Aaron, I have to admit that I have been pretty lazy about trying sushi outside of my walking distance range of restaurants so while I have heard of other/better sushi joints (Sebo, most notably), I'm hard-pressed to take a bus or a cab to go to them when I am happy with those in my neighborhood. Honestly, I still haven't found anything to hold a candle to Takao in Los Angeles (and I have not yet been to Urasawa).

I don't mind the wasabi burn at Ino, honestly. It is when I feel a cold coming and I want a little nasal-clearing that I head there! Otherwise, yes, Tokaya is my local favorite as the owner, Chris, on my first visit immediately picked up on the fact that I preferred straight, great sashimi with minimal rice-based sushi. I'd probably take Kiss over Tokaya but I can talk to Tokaya's chef and Kiss' chef doesn't seem to chat much with "round-eyes" (or so it has seemed to me on previous visits).

#8 Aaron T

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Posted 03 December 2007 - 05:59 AM

I had a very good meal at Sebo sushi, on Hayes Street, on Friday night. It was the first serious sushi restaurant that I have been to where the owners are white. The vibe is modern and cool. The sushi chef Danny has Japanese tattoos on his arms - more landscapes than the hokey words you sometime see gringos get.

Sebo only has a few maki rolls on its menu - no california or spicy tuna rolls on offer. They offer Tokyo style sushi. They have high qualit fish and a good variety too; with shipments from Japan. One thing which surprised me is that they do not serve salmon sushi - Danny said that it was not a traditional item in a Tokyo/Edo style sushi establishment - if salmon was served it would be served cooked.

I sat at the sushi bar and said omakase no shellfish. I began with a miso soup, which was fine. Next up was a plate of 4-5 kinds of sashimi including maguro, hamachi (yellowtail) and amberjack. The quality was good and they only serve wild fish, which is why I suspect that this maguro and hamachi were much better than usual.

The sushi was next and was served in two pieces to an order. The pieces were small, which was good as they could be eaten in one bite. Japonica this was not! laugh.gif The wasabi is freshly grated and was used in a more appropriate portion size than at Ino. Spanish mackeral, maguro, chu toro, otoro were all served. I asked for and had some ikura as well. Probably 3 other kinds of fish. The best were the hamachi and the chu toro.

I enjoyed being able to interact with the sushi chef; some chefs are more reserved, but Danny (and his business partner who was behind the counter as well) were very sociable. The restaurant is also known for its sake list. They had about a dozen sakes on the list, all available by the glass or bottle. Mos in the $8 - $12 per glass range. The sake is supplied by True Sake, the premier sake store in SF, which happens to be down the block, and I am told the list changes often. I had glasses of 2 of the drier sakes, both of which were enjoyable. I will try and get the names next time I go.

Overall I thought this was a great option, more fun than Kiss or Ino and as good or better too. Plus it is only 2 blocks from my house. This could get to be an expensive habit. Was about $100 or so all in. It was not as good as Yasuda, but then again I could (and did) sit for several hours at the sushi bar. Not as good as Sushi Zo or Echigo in LA (although much nicer atmosphere than either of them) but better than some of my other standbys in LA such as Irori, Kiriko or Nagao.

Sebo does not take reservations and was only half full when I was there on a friday night. I think when they are busier the wait can be annoying but as I did not experience this, I can't comment. The pacing was on the slow side, but that was fine by me as I was not in a rush. The other customers at the bar were regulars, it has a hip neighborhoody vibe.

Due to its proximity, I think I'd rather invest my sushi meals at Sebo, than try some of the other places in the city as most are not "destinations".
"There just aren't many new "uptight" reservation places opening, especially in the neighborhoods where older, more sophisticated diners are trolling for youngish women." - Stone

My blog: Savory Hunter @ www.savoryhunter.com

#9 Carolyn Tillie

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Posted 03 December 2007 - 07:01 AM

Thanks for the update, Aaron! See, this one is going to be a destination place for me, versus my neighborhood jaunts. It is the one thing that is slightly frustrating about San Francisco: You seriously can't throw a dead cat without hitting some form of Japanese restaurant, yet 90% of them are quite mediocre compared to Los Angeles (which surprises me, considering their abundance). It saddens me that we don't have a SINGLE yakitori restaurant and that most of the Japanese is so mainstream. The exception (which I heartily recommend), is Kappa which serves a little sashimi amidst a dozen+ other bites of cooked, fried, or prepared items. I never had anything like that in Los Angeles, but apparently will when I make my way to Urasawa.

Welcome to the city, BTW!

#10 Aaron T

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Posted 16 December 2007 - 05:49 PM

A return visit to Sebo last night and it was good again. Glad to find consistency.

Service is at a leisurely pace and you can stay as long as you want, no Yasuda like pressure to eat and go. It is nice, but creates a drawback in a lack of turnover if you are waiting for a seat at the sushi bar. As Sebo does not take reservations it can be a crapshoot.

I showed up at about 7:40 and gave my name and number to the hostess who offered to call me when my table was ready. I went across the street to my neighborhood bar Place Pigalle and got a beer, and then another beer. At 9 or so I was getting hungry and didn't to get another beer on an empty stomach so walked back across the street to Sebo. The hostess wasn't sure if the people at the bar were going to leave before they closed. Because I had been waiting so long, she brought another seat to the sushi bar and I was able to finally eat.

Miso soup was a nice warm way to begin and from there it was ankimo. The ankimo was served as nigiri, the cool monkfish over the warm rice. Yum. Next up was 3 kinds of sashimi - Kanpachi and Shima aji among them. Some delicious ikura, marinated in-house. Then some ankimo and maguro diced on top of rice and wrapped in nori (like the way ikura or uni is served), which was a nice flavor combination.

Scored and blowtorched wild hamachi belly sushi was a highlight. Followed that with wild hamachi sushi (not blowtorched not the belly), also good. They only had a little bit left of spanish mackerel and comped me a piece as they said it wasn't visually appealing enough. Had another round of ikura and a maguro handroll.

Drank green tea, which was refilled often, and a glass of their driest sake. I liked that they placed sleek carafes of water on the bar to refill water glasses with.

Sebo is fun and mellow but takes its fish seriously. A "temple of haute cuisine" this is not. Quality of the fish and the cutting of the fish were both of a very high standard. This will be a regular spot for me.
"There just aren't many new "uptight" reservation places opening, especially in the neighborhoods where older, more sophisticated diners are trolling for youngish women." - Stone

My blog: Savory Hunter @ www.savoryhunter.com

#11 Carolyn Tillie

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Posted 16 December 2007 - 08:12 PM

Aaron, I'm curious; will it be a "regular" spot for you if you routinely have to wait an hour-plus to sit? I'm not being facetious, but am honestly wondering with so many good sushi restaurants in the city that could seat you immediately, is that kind of wait warranted?

#12 Aaron T

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Posted 25 March 2008 - 09:40 PM

QUOTE(Carolyn Tillie @ Dec 16 2007, 01:12 PM) View Post
Aaron, I'm curious; will it be a "regular" spot for you if you routinely have to wait an hour-plus to sit? I'm not being facetious, but am honestly wondering with so many good sushi restaurants in the city that could seat you immediately, is that kind of wait warranted?


I do think Sebo is worth waiting for, I wouldn't wait an hour plus on a regular basis, probably about 30 minutes is my limit - about how long it will take me to have one drink at my local across the street.
I have found that I can call and add my name to the list when I am en route, which sometimes means that they will hold a seat at the sushi bar for me , if one is free.

Had a weekend lunch a few weeks ago at Eiji. I was trying to find a good sushi establishment open for lunch on the weekends, and this seemed to be the only one. They specialize in both tofu and sushi, and don't have a traditional sushi bar. More of a sushi and tofu focused restaurant than a sushi bar. Only seats about 20 people. Eiji is located on Sanchez St in the Castro neighborhood. I tried some of their tofu, which they make on-site, as well as some standard sushi fare. Both were pretty good. I am blanking on the details but I liked the cozy neighborhoody vibe, plus the high quality of the fish and eats. Parking was a pain, btw.

SF Chronicle review of Eiji
"There just aren't many new "uptight" reservation places opening, especially in the neighborhoods where older, more sophisticated diners are trolling for youngish women." - Stone

My blog: Savory Hunter @ www.savoryhunter.com

#13 Carolyn Tillie

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Posted 25 March 2008 - 10:14 PM

I am not sure when I am going to have time to do a full write-up, but a good friend of mine and I returned to Amé on Sunday evening. We chatted with the server and convinced them that we wanted to do a full tasting, but each of us get different items. This meant that we got to sample eight different crudo preparations, after which came the obligatory hot fish, foie, hot meat, etc., but we both agreed that next time, we would just go back to the sushi bar...

#14 KRamsey

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Posted 25 March 2008 - 11:24 PM

We are crazy about Eiji. My kid will eat huge amounts of their tofu (and she eats barely anything and only little bits of what she will deign to eat). I love saba (mackerel) nigiri, and theirs was the best I've ever had.

#15 Aaron T

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Posted 09 April 2008 - 03:08 PM

The Chronicle did a nice piece about Danny Dunham, the chef/owner of Sebo here.

I had another sushi meal there last night and it was great. I was able to walk right in and there was a seat at the bar available, which was mighty convenient.

Tai sushi was very good and was paired with "baby tai" sushi that was seared with a blowtorch. The ankimo sushi was also a highlight, very rich, cut from a nice lobe. There was mostly scraps of ankimo in the case and so he pulled out a new lobe rather than serve the last bits of the previous one. A nice touch. Ikura of note too.

The watatake sake washed everything down nicely.
"There just aren't many new "uptight" reservation places opening, especially in the neighborhoods where older, more sophisticated diners are trolling for youngish women." - Stone

My blog: Savory Hunter @ www.savoryhunter.com