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Best Sushi in SF


goofy md
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going to sf in june. have a few reservations already including Gary Danko and Quince. I need a good sushi place (but not at $35 a piece like I heard Kyo-ya cost). is INO's good? I'll be staying at Campton place so in the area would be nice but I'd be willing to travel if the fish is much better.

thanks,

mark

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Ino is good, as is Kiss. Both hold 15-20 people depending on how the tables are setup. There are more cooked dishes available at Kiss and more raw options at Ino. I've enjoyed my meals at both places.

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I'm taking a trip out to San Fran and the Cali coast in July. I'd love to know some good sushi places.

Are reservations a must?

Blessed are those who engage in lively conversation with the helplessly mute, for they shall be called, "Dentists." (anonymous)

Life is too short for bad Caesar Salad. (Me)

Why would you poison yourself by eating a non-organic apple? (HL)

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Ino is good, as is Kiss.  Both hold 15-20 people depending on how the tables are setup.  There are more cooked dishes available at Kiss and more raw options at Ino.  I've enjoyed my meals at both places.

I wouldn't go to Kiss for the sushi. Their small dishes are outstanding, but I didn't think the sushi was anything spectacular.

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I'm taking a trip out to San Fran and the Cali coast in July.  I'd love to know some good sushi places.

Are reservations a must?

these are the top three on my list:

ino

hamako

koo

in that order. koo is less traditional than the other two and if you want to eat omakase style, i'd call a day ahead to let them know so they can plan ahead and buy things.

let me know if you need addresses to these places. i'm feeling quite lazy right now.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I've just been back in SF for 6 months and have yet to do all the research, but if you are up for the trendy mission scene, Tokyo GoGo is really excellent. The specialties are thin-sliced sahimi with great sauces. It is fusion, for sure, so don't expect a purist experience. But very fresh fish, creative presentation, and most importantly, delicious.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Has anyone tried Hamano in Noe Valley (on Castro St.) recently? I mostly order nigiri, and that was my favorite place for a good variety of fresh, tasty fish. I've been away for a couple of years (finally returned, hooray!), and had heard that the place had changed hands and the quality had dropped off.

c

i play the rock. you shake the booty.
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I ate at Kabuto last week.

Can honestly say it was the worst meal i ever ate in SF. I had read so many glowing reviews, and was very very dissapointed.

The proprieter never even greeted us though we sat immediately in front of him. No wimper of an "Irrashae".I was told by the waitress that she would take our order as the itamae was too busy. (never have i heard that at a counter) He lloked and acted angry the whole time. The food was rather tasteless. The prices average to high average.

It was nosiy, filled with young people who seemed to love it (there is no accounting for taste.)

Edited by tooearly (log)
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Ryoko (a few blocks west of Union Square) might be worth checking out.

It's reasonably priced and is a standing favorite for a good friend of mine who has eaten lots of good sushi and lived in Japan for 4 years. I can't claim to be a sushi afficionado, but I've enjoyed several good meals there. It compares favorably with many sushi places I've been to in SF although I haven't been to the highest end places. The restaurant has a neighborhood feel; comfortable and nice but not upscale. My friend knows the owners/chefs quite well and will usually put himself in their hands to a large extent re: picking out what is freshest that day.

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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  • 4 weeks later...

Tough to try Kabuto based on these mixed reviews, but now I have several sushi options. Thanks everybody!

Blessed are those who engage in lively conversation with the helplessly mute, for they shall be called, "Dentists." (anonymous)

Life is too short for bad Caesar Salad. (Me)

Why would you poison yourself by eating a non-organic apple? (HL)

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Has anyone tried Hamano in Noe Valley (on Castro St.) recently? I mostly order nigiri, and that was my favorite place for a good variety of fresh, tasty fish. I've been away for a couple of years (finally returned, hooray!), and had heard that the place had changed hands and the quality had dropped off.

c

Forget about Hamano - never trust a sushi place that is run by Chinese people. That's not a racist comment, it's just meant to say that I try to buy my sushi from Japanese people, my Chinese food from Chinese people, and so on. There are a lot of sushi joints (I call them "College sushi" because that's where I went before I knew any better) like this in the city.

That said, I'm surprised no one mentioned Anzu - the restaurant at the Nikko Hotel (downtown - near Union Sq). Kaz is the sushi chef there and he is a classicly trained sushi chef (trained in Japan). Pursists will love it - posers won't find any fried tempura rolls here, though. So if that's what you're looking for, go to Blowfish or Deep Sushi. This place is all about straight up sushi, sashimi and simple rolls. Just great fish. But you have to sit at the sushi bar (and make a reservation - there are only about 8 seats there). If you are extra nice, Kaz might even grate some fresh wasabi (from the root, not the powder) - what an experience...

Kiss is good for an overall experience - you'll think the dishes came straight out of Iron Chef. But I agree with the comment that the sushi wasn't all that, compared to other places.

I've tried the other places mentioned, and I've had sushi all over the U.S. (and in Japan), and Anzu is right up there with the best. Nobu still blows them all away though (I went to the one in Vegas and had a tasting menu - wow...). My advice is this: never go cheap on healthcare or sushi. You may regret it...

________________

Stu Fisher - Owner

Tastee Cheese

www.tasteecheese.com

stu@tasteecheese.com

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I know that Sushi Ran is in Sausalito- but it is my favorite! (not a bad drive either)

Good catch (no pun intended) - Sushi Ran is the best around (if you include points beyond San Fran)

________________

Stu Fisher - Owner

Tastee Cheese

www.tasteecheese.com

stu@tasteecheese.com

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  • 3 weeks later...

We tried both Ino, which conveniently enough was in the Japanese mall connected to our hotel, and Tokyo Go-Go.

Two vastly different sushi experiences. Ino was straight up traditional style sushi. The fish was fresh and high quality. The chef was a little bit heavy on the wasabi inside the rolls. We ordered a spicy tuna roll, and as opposed to more modern/western stlyle rolls, it was filled with extra wasabi. The wasabi was too intense for my wife, so we ordered a regular tuna roll. The chef put just a tad less wasabi in this roll than in the spicy tuna roll. I enjoyed everything, as I love wasabi. My wife, and another lady in this very small sushi bar both had a similar complaint about the wasabi. When requested, the chef was more than happy to lay off on the wasabi.

Tokyo Go-Go was modern style sushi. Very imaginative and creative rolls that were packed full of flavor and fresh fish. More of an Americanized style of sushi, but I must say that the creations that they came up with made for an extremely enjoyable dining experience. While I enjoyed both restaurants imensely, as I'm a fan of both styles, I'll have to say I'd give the edge to Tokyo Go-Go. Traditional styles of sushi were available, and the creativity was at the highest level.

We also made an attempt to check out Okoze, but unfortunately we got there at an off-time, it was about 4, and they don't open until 6 for dinner. It felt like 7 for us east coasters, and after a 6 hour flight, we were starving! :wacko:

Blessed are those who engage in lively conversation with the helplessly mute, for they shall be called, "Dentists." (anonymous)

Life is too short for bad Caesar Salad. (Me)

Why would you poison yourself by eating a non-organic apple? (HL)

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Tokyo Go Go is indeed a lot of fun, and the food is surprisingly good. It's hard to compare it to Ino, which does traditional sushi (nigiri and maki) a lot better than Tokyo Go Go. I think of the latter more as a fun outing on a weekend night to go drinking and eat light, rather than a proper sushi restaurant.

Kiss is indeed quite good as well, though I tend to prefer the cooked dishes there. But I have on occasion had an incredible piece of nigiri at Kiss, on the last visit it was the Kohada (gizzard shad). I had Kohada at Ino a few weeks later and it was nowhere near as good. Ino is great for Ankimo (monkfish liver) and Aji (spanish mackerel).

Another good place for traditional sushi is Takara in Japantown, right next door to Ino. Much larger place than Ino, be sure to sit at the sushi bar at the old guy's station for the best experience. The Amaebi (live prawn) comes straight out of the tank outside, and is really amazing.

Hamako, which has been mentioned on this thread, can also be quite good. His specialty is Saba (mackerel), which is the best I've ever tasted anywhere.

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My husband and I loved Kabuto when it was accross the street from its current location. We used to visit SF frequently in the 1980's and early 1990's. We hadnt been back for a while, and took a whole crew there last December. We ordered a lot of food. We were not at the sushi bar, but I still thought the chef should acknowledge us in some way. He didnt even make eye contact or say goodbye when we left. The service wasnt good. The sushi was good but not spectacular and it wasnt served beautifully, it was just plunked down on large plates. It was very disappointing.

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I had never known the name of my favorite sushi place until this thread made me research it. It's a tiny place run by a couple who, in my experience, are very kind and personable. I found in checking around that some customers have felt otherwise.

What the service is not, is rushed. If you're in a hurry, don't go. It's a two-person operation. The good thing is that you can relax. It's like an anti-fad-sushi place. My brother, who has lived in Japan for 14 years, always wants to go when he's in town. (He can't afford sushi in Japan but that's another topic altogether!)

It's in Cole Valley, right where the N-Judah streetcar stops at Cole and Carl:

Hama-Ko Sushi Restaurant

108 Carl St Ste B

(415) 753-6808

Edited by ingridsf (log)

My fantasy? Easy -- the Simpsons versus the Flanders on Hell's Kitchen.

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I had never known the name of my favorite sushi place until this thread made me research it.  It's a tiny place run by a couple who, in my experience, are very kind and personable.  I found in checking around that some customers have felt otherwise. 

What the service is not, is rushed.  If you're in a hurry, don't go.  It's a two-person operation.  The good thing is that you can relax.  It's like an anti-fad-sushi place.  My brother, who has lived in Japan for 14 years, always wants to go when he's in town.  (He can't afford sushi in Japan but that's another topic altogether!)

It's in Cole Valley, right where the N-Judah streetcar stops at Cole and Carl:

Hama-Ko Sushi Restaurant

108 Carl St Ste B

(415) 753-6808

Yes, Hamako has been mentioned a couple of times on this thread already. I don't know if I would call the couple very kind and personable. The wife is lovely, but the husband/sushi chef is definitely temperamental, especially with new customers. But the sushi itself can be very good, and his saba is definitely my favorite in town. Note that he's been talking about retiring imminently for the last couple of years, so if you like the place you should get over there soon.

Ino is also solely a husband and wife operation, as is Tekka in the inner Richmond. The nice thing with Tekka is that the wife also makes cooked dishes, which are often better than the sushi. But there's no English menu for them, so you have to prod her to get the list of dishes for that night. And they only open weeknights, usually not until 7:30pm, and there's almost always a wait for a seat. It's quite possibly the smallest restaurant I've been to in San Francisco.

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I had never known the name of my favorite sushi place until this thread made me research it.  It's a tiny place run by a couple who, in my experience, are very kind and personable.  I found in checking around that some customers have felt otherwise. 

What the service is not, is rushed.  If you're in a hurry, don't go.  It's a two-person operation.  The good thing is that you can relax.  It's like an anti-fad-sushi place.  My brother, who has lived in Japan for 14 years, always wants to go when he's in town.  (He can't afford sushi in Japan but that's another topic altogether!)

It's in Cole Valley, right where the N-Judah streetcar stops at Cole and Carl:

Hama-Ko Sushi Restaurant

108 Carl St Ste B

(415) 753-6808

Yes, Hamako has been mentioned a couple of times on this thread already. I don't know if I would call the couple very kind and personable. The wife is lovely, but the husband/sushi chef is definitely temperamental, especially with new customers. But the sushi itself can be very good, and his saba is definitely my favorite in town. Note that he's been talking about retiring imminently for the last couple of years, so if you like the place you should get over there soon.

Ino is also solely a husband and wife operation, as is Tekka in the inner Richmond. The nice thing with Tekka is that the wife also makes cooked dishes, which are often better than the sushi. But there's no English menu for them, so you have to prod her to get the list of dishes for that night. And they only open weeknights, usually not until 7:30pm, and there's almost always a wait for a seat. It's quite possibly the smallest restaurant I've been to in San Francisco.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Kabuto would have to be among our favorite sushi places in SF. IF you range further afield, we really like Sushi Sam's in San Mateo, although the last time we went the fish did not seem very fresh at all.

Also saw that Kabuto will be changing ownership at the end of this month. The following is a snippet from Grace Ann Walden's column in the SF Chron:

===========================

Sept. 1 will be a sad day for fans of chef Sachio Kojima of Kabuto A&S Sushi (5121 Geary Blvd., near 16th Avenue) in the Richmond District. He has sold the business to Jinsoo Kim and Eric Cho, who own Ariake Japanese Restaurant, just a block away at 5041 Geary Blvd. (at 14th Avenue). Until Aug. 31, Kojima will be training Kim's and Cho's chefs in his style.

Last year Kojima gave up his lease at his popular Japanese restaurant and moved it across the street to a smaller space. The idea was to downscale and operate the new place with his wife and children. Now Kojima plans to move about five hours north of San Francisco, near Mount Shasta. He said his wife, Ayako, who has cancer, needs to drink pure water, and that that area has it in abundance.

In the early 20th century, travelers came to the region to "take the waters" from the many springs. Kojima plans to open a small sushi bar there. Kim, one of Kabuto's new owners, is an experienced sushi chef, having worked for seven years at Ebisu in the Sunset. He also has cooked French and Japanese cuisine for many years. He says the partners plan to close the restaurant for just a short time, reopening in early September and keeping Kojima's style.

Dinner will be served nightly except Sunday; lunch might be added later. Currently, Kabuto is open for lunch and dinner Thursday through Tuesday.

===========================

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