sashimi, nigiri sushi, maki, and temaki

San Francisco is certainly the city of restaurants. It’s often said that we have more eateries per capita than elsewhere, but to my mind that only means that we have more bad places to confound the hungry. It’s still a talent to unearth the tasty and the price-worthy.

Yokoso Nippon

Sushi is one of my favorite vices. While I’ve had damn good sushi in weird places like Minneapolis and Phoenix (really!) there’s only two cities with the twisted verve to have satisfied my sushi needs: San Francisco and Manhattan. (I’ve not yet been to Japan; anyone wanting to sponsor a sushi research trip should immediately contact this blogger….)

Right away I want to stress that there is a great variety of what we gaijin call sushi. I don’t presume to dictate what is and what isn’t proper. It just is. That’s also part of the fun of it all.

There are many top-notch well-known places. Perhaps too well-known. Ebisu (1283 Ninth Ave., 566-1770), Blowfish (2170 Bryant, 285-3848), Tokyo-a-Go-Go (3174 16th St., 864-2288), and Grandeho’s Kamekyo (943 Cole St., 759 8428). You know the kind of place. Really good sushi, but discovered, so that there’s always a line, a crowd, and it’s become unpleasant to get in and pressure to be in.

There are some fantastic sushi places in the city which aren’t crammed full of those people (fill in your mental image of those people; thanks).

Here are some of my fav raw fish digs; what are yours?

  • Hama-Ko (108-B Carl St., 753-6808) – We’ve been calling this place “Grandpa’s Place” for almost two decades. A couple have run this with love and fervor for ages. Right on the ‘N’ Judah MUNI line.
  • Deep Sushi (1740 Church St @ 30th St., 970-3337) – We were able to carry out our tradition of eating here on opening night. The chef is an artist! Everything which came to our places on the sushi bar was as incredible to look at as to eat.
  • Yokoso Nippon (314 Church St., no phone) – Most people know this as “No Name”, the home of the incredibly filling and inexpensive don buri (on rice) bowls. Right on the ‘J’ Church MUNI line. Across the street from:
  • Warakubune (307 Church St., 252-8383) – One can drive by this place for ages and not realize there’s a working restaurant here, it’s so cleverly camouflaged. Some of the offerings inside are just incredible, especially the house roll, with a sublime mix of mayo and spicy, umm, spices.
  • Fune Ya (354 Clement St. @ 4th Ave., 386-2788) – For that sushi hit when the kids are on your back, here’s an inexpensive sushi boat place with an impressive menu of to-order rolls and other things like soba. If you can afford to have your kids ordering the chefs around at Blowfish, go for it, but when the bills pile up, head on over to Fune Ya.

We have a lot of sushiyas in our fair city. Here’s what purports to be a complete list:

so there’s no excuse not to pick something close to where you are or where you’ll be and try something you’ve not had before. Mmmmmmm, sushi.

(Disclaimer: I take it as understood that I have no financial incentive to recommend one place over another. If you, owner of a fine restaurant, wish to attempt to sway my impartial journalistic advice with a liberal dose of complementary tasty treats, you’re more than welcome to try… :-)

4 Comments so far

  1. easy (unregistered) on July 22nd, 2005 @ 7:39 am

    thanks for the sushi update! am going to eventually bring my son, the sushi lover, to SF. when i was there last, we saw a SUSHI BOAT in chinatown, and he wants to go there, or someplace like it because of the boat activity! i am assuming some of these places (fune ya)are in the boat mode.:) we live in richmond, va. and oh, i wish i was in SF…

  2. seamus (unregistered) on July 28th, 2005 @ 12:41 pm

    I also recommend Isobune in J-town. It’s gimmicky (sushis on rotating boats), but the quality is excellent.

  3. Jason S. (unregistered) on July 29th, 2005 @ 12:36 am

    I thought Isobune was the original sushi-boat restaurant—at least, that’s what they claim—making them the proto-gimmick. :)

  4. Michael 'Mickey' Sattler (unregistered) on July 29th, 2005 @ 2:33 am

    You are correct, Sir. Isobune does claim to be the original. This would be annoying except for the quality of the food. I can’t believe I forgot to mention Isobune. It’s a favorite, but too expensive to let the kids run amok in.

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