I have just moved to SF last month and wanted to eat good sushi. Of course i searched zagat and went to Ebusu in Sunset. That was the best sushi I have ever had! They were so fresh and delicious! I doubt there will be better restaurant but just in case, does anyone know any other ones in the city? Thanks.
Two of my favorites...You may want to check out Tekka @ Balboa btwn 6/7 or Kabuto on Geary at 14th(?). Tekka has excellent fish but also serves many delicious Japanese dishes that are not what you normally see in Japanese restaurants. In fact, I've never seen any of their dishes in a Japanese restaurant. They do not serve teriyakis or anything like that.
They serve dishes like large grilled rice triangles seasoned with a bit of soy sauce. This is very very nice as the rice comes out a bit crunchy on the outside and moist and soft on the inside- a wonderful textural combo. They also have dishes like kabocha squash served in a hot mirin sauce. Last time we were there, they had lightly battered and fried skate wing cubes. The cartilage had not been removed and you were definitely supposed to eat it.
They have excellent quality sushi/sashimi. They have the absolute best mackerel that I've ever eaten. I usually do not like this fish as it tends to be a bit oily to me. There's none of that characteristic at Tekka- it's all very pure flavors, excellent textures, and it seems a bit off the beaten path.
Kabuto also has wonderful fish and a more standard menu. Sit at the bar for a great time. Scallop sushi is wonderful. Sweet and sublime...
Welcome to SF!
Kabuto is also a favorite of mine. I think it has one of the broadest selection of fish but sitting at the bar is a must. Most of the sushi served at the table is made by the apprentice and not the sushi chef; several of my friends have reported significantly better food at the bar. Tida's mention of the skate wing reminds me of a similar thing I had at Kabuto - it was a steamed with a fantastic broth and shiitake mushrooms. The bones were delicious. The poke (marinated spicy tuna) is also delicious but it is very spicy and I'd recommend that for the later part of the meal so that you have all your tastebuds for most of the meal. The buttery hamachi sashimi I had was possibly one of the best I've had in recent memory.
As for Ebisu, I feel that it's a typical Zagat's recommendation - fairly good, but overcrowded and not the best deal. They have a wide variety of rolls that are good, some of which I think may not be on the menu (haven't been there in a long time, so don't quote me on this) - e.g. 49er (salmon and lemon), rainbow (all sorts of fish), catepillar (unagi and avocado). I think the variety of rolls are what really make Ebisu stand out.
Unfortunately for me, I don't really fancy rolls very much; I prefer sashimi and straight nigiri, hence I favor Kabuto.
Grandeho's on Cole between Parnassus and Carl is also excellent, I'd pick them over Ebisu as well because they have better nigiri. But they're also fairly crowded.
Murasaki on Clement (around 3rd or 4th I think) is also pretty good, fairly inexpensive and low-key, and even though it's not as good as Kabuto, it's still worth going. They have great made-to-order unagi (some of my pals think the sauce is a bit too thick, but I love it). I ordered omakase once and the chef made single orders of almost all their fish (along with other things) and I had great fun sampling each one and comparing the flavors and textures. They have really good ama-ebi (prawns) - I love nibbling on the feelers after their heads have been deep fried. The most impressive thing I've had there was the conch which was served in its shell after being steamed for several hours with seaweed. The sushi chef there is also very friendly and accomodating.
I found Kyo-ya enjoyable as well but it is pricier than all the places we just discussed.
The place that I go to most often is Hama-Ko, which has some of the best salmon and uni I've had in the city for prices that are lower than places like Kabuto. They also have my favorite ankimo sushi, which is pretty hard to come by (even in Japan, according to a Japanese buddy).
Ankimo is monkfish liver that's been steamed in sake. Most places offer that as sashimi, but Hama-Ko has a sushi version that's much better - almost like liver custard.
Omakase means chief's choice, letting the chef make whatever he or she thinks is good or in the mood to make. That might sometimes mean things that are not on the menu.
Kaiseki is more of a formal Japanese meal, usually about 7 courses, with seasonal ingredients. I think each course has to be prepared in a certain way, steamed, or fried etc... but I don't know what the exact requirements are. Are there any chowhounds out there who know more about this?
Believe it or not, Ebisu was the worst sushi experience I've had since I started eating it 7 years ago. Their sushi was very
fishy tasting and my friend and I both had to spit pieces out into our napkins because they were inedible. I'm stunned people line up for this place. I guess I was there on a bad night (which should not exist for a good restaurant).
On the other hand , there is a sushi place in the Richmond that I visit usually 2-3 times a week. It's called Monkichi and it's on
23rd and California. This is the best sushi I've had in the Bay area. Daily specials include Bonito(seared), Albacore (which has
been outstanding recently), Halibut, Yellowtail belly, Salmon belly, Hokkaido scallop (sashimi), Live scallop (my favorite), crab, pink tip clam, and less frequently sea bass, mackerel, snapper and the occasional rare item.
The rolls are outstanding, especially the Good Time Roll ( shrimp tempura roll wrapped with albacore and drizzled with garlic/ponzu sauce and tobiko and scallions).
The kitchen does not disappoint either. The gyozas are excellent, as are the marinated & roasted shittake mushrooms with garlic.
I could go on and on. The restaurant is fairly small ( 7 or 8 4-tops) and the bar seats 6. This place is still fairly unknown, but can
get very crowded. Owner/chef Yoshi-san is a great guy as well. Very friendly and accomodating.
Of all the friends I have taken there, none have been disappointed. Enjoy, Chowhounds!