The sushi place on Geary near 25th or so... It has been mentioned here before, but I finally made it a week or so ago after "American Psycho" down the street at the Alexandria.
It was great. My new destination sushi place for the city. I presume it is only in SF (in the US anyway - please let me know if I am off-base) that there could be a wide variety of cheap sushi places. A semi-chain in We Be Sushi, Yum Yum Fish, a variety of "no name" places (some less cheap than others), and a whole host of places thaqt slowly work their way up to what I had always thought of as typical Sushi restaurants: Tons of wood panels, good fish, expect to fork over enough dough to get a dozen burritos.
Most of my experiences with the cheap places is that they were usually fine, sometimes very good. We Be Sushi always satisfies me if it sushi as concept that I am craving. When I want a more reliable melt-in-your-mouth tuna experience, I usually head to a place like Miyabi(Church near Market). For special treats, I go to Ebisu or other places, temper my appetite so as to avoid an $60 tab, and walk away very satisfied.
Enter Kitaro. At about the same prices, the fish there was a good as I get on the very best night at Miyabi, as good as Ebisu's best. Plus they have a bunch of rolls the likes of which I had never seen. Godzilla Roll was cubed tuna bound with a creamy wasabi paste, and then the whole thing tempura-fried. I presume this is inauthentic, but very delicious.
Atmosphere was very low-key, service was quick and attentive.
I will be back there. As soon as possible.
Thanks a TON for this recommendation. We've been meaning to go and even tried when I had an relentless sushi craving a few weeks back. Unfortunately it was a Monday night and it was closed. We've been enjoying Kabuto but had spotted Kitaro when there was a crowd of Japanese people standing outside. Always a good sign.
Have you been to Tekka on Balboa and 4th/5th? Heard it was excellent.
I have never been to Tekka or Kabuto. I recently hit a place on San Pablo over in Berkeley about 10 blocks south of University. The name escapes me but it was good.
I made it to Country Station on Mission a few months ago. I remember liking it, and the atmosphere is hilarious. They were playing Sgt. Pepper, and then early Metallica, one of the staff had dreads (he looked Japanese otherwise, so I am not sure how he managed to get his hair to do that), another pink hair. Apparently they are all performers of some stripe. Avant-garde theater or noise-punk would be my guess.
Ebisu never disapoints me, but I find the wait to get seated prohibitive. The regulars there do get treated like royalty, so if you know anyone who qualifies, get 'em to accompany you, and sit at the bar. I, sad to say, do not rank in that class.
Is Kabuto in the same neighborhoos as Kitaro?
re: Mike Zurer
Kabuto is not too far from Kitaro - it's at 15th and Geary, on the right hand side if you're heading west on Geary. It's not cheap but it's not outrageous either. Very low key place in terms of decor, ambience, and the fish is fantastic!
There are typical items on the menu and you can always get the regular cooked foods like tempura, etc. However, as you walk in there's a big whiteboard that lists the specials that day and it's always chock-full of great stuff.
The main thing that earned my allegiance was a piece of scallop sushi. I am very wary of eating this as I've had bad scallop sushi in the past where just from the texture you can tell that it's just not right. So whenever I do order it, it's almost hope against hope that it'll be decent, at a minimum. At Kabuto, it was a sublime experience! The scallop itself had a healthy pinkish sheen to it - none of the "bleaching" that sometimes goes on to make them look really white. It was a very large scallop-dense and heavy. And the meat of it was the sweetest I have ever tasted. It was just a clean, sweet, ocean taste-very pure. It was fantastic!
One time we took a friend there who has lived in Japan, speaks Japanese, does work with Japanese stocks and loves sushi. He ordered something that is not typically offered- something you need to know of and they made it for him. It's a roll that is similar to a normal tuna roll. However, the tuna inside is scraped off the bones near the belly of the tuna so this meat is extremely soft. The meat of the belly, toro, is already buttery; this stuff blew that away. I apologize that I can't remember the name of this roll right now. I'll post it when I find out because it is definitely worth asking for if you haven't eaten this yet!
I had scallop for the first time the last visit I made to Ebisu. It came in two parts - a tempura of what must be the muscley part around the white meat, and then the normal scallop part as nigiri with a special dipping sauce. The sauce wasn't great, but the scallop itself was just as you describe in your note. I now look for it whenever I am out for sushi.
re: Mike Zurer
Check out Shimo, very close to Kitaro--Clement near 25th. Excellent sushi. Friends of mine used to debate which was better--Kabuto or Shimo. I still haven't been to Kabuto, but Shimo is great.
Further afield, Kirala in Berkeley is awesome. It's more than just sushi--their robata grill dishes are really the main attraction--but the sushi I've had there is outstanding. Long waits, no reservations, but worth it.