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sebo

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So, as my Yankees were rained out last night, and as I was feeling rather chastened about my useless review yesterday, I decided I needed another visit. I was planning to remember all the details, so that I could write a detailed description on this site.

Of course, within a minute, I'd instantly forget what I'd just eaten. I basically failed again.

However, I did grab a menu, so hopefully this will be more helpful, although I still don't know how to discuss the flavor. "Tastes like really good fish!" Anyhow, basically everything was delicious, so assume positive reactions to all the sashimi below. Again, I let them pick everything.

1. Kibinago (blue-banded sprat): This was memorable, because each piece is a whole little fish. Soft texture, the flavor of scales is somewhat prominent.

2. Ankimo (monkfish liver): Texture not unlike foie gras, with a milder flavor. I enjoyed this quite a bit.

3. Mirugai (giant clam): Firm texture, not chewy like you might expect.

4. Uni (sea urchin): Okay, this was mushy. Quite rich, which might not be for some palates, but I liked it.

Those were the most memorable, but everything was interesting, and nothing was bland (for better and worse: apparently some of the choices are too bold for their more conservative patrons). Usually it was served simply, with a thin layer of rice, but sometimes garnished with things like red pepper threads or avocado. The rest of the nigiri menu: big eye tuna, fatty tuna, super fatty tuna, bonito, yellowtail, striped jack, sardine, horse mackerel (I had this two different ways), sea bass, penn shell, octopus, flying fish roe, salmon roe, and fresh water eel. Ingredient quality was excellent, and leagues superior to typical corner sushi places.

This time, I decided to try a roll. I had the asparagus, which comes "with pickled gobo, katsuobushi, spicy Japanese mayo." I dunno what gobo or katsuobushi are, but the mayo flavor dominated, which I personally wasn't into.

Again, if you place yourself in their hands, you're basically guaranteed to have a fantastic meal. The two chefs, Mike and Danny, were extremely helpful, and took their time explaining everything to me. If you go when it isn't too busy, they'll actually take the time to build an assortment catered to your tastes, which is what they did for me.

Drinks... well, again I had beer. Orion, which I now realize is their only beer option. But it has a dry, neutral finish that pairs quite well with the fish, so unless you're a beer elitist, it should suffice. The sake... well, I'm not really a sake person, but it was there. (sorry)

As I mentioned earlier, the decor is spartan, but elegant. There are tables that seat six, but a party larger than that is probably not a good option. The bar area seats five. On my visit, there were a couple of tables of young hipsters wearing kitschy athletic wear, while at the bar, there were two middle-aged men, one of whom was casually reading a newspaper while eating his fish. The atmosphere is very relaxed, and the music is a cross between loungey dance music and R&B.

Um, that's it, I guess. Oh, pricing. $19 for nine pieces, $12 for five. Considering that these prices are in line with those at run-of-the-mill sushi places, the cost is quite reasonable. Nigiri prices range from $5 for the unagi to $9 for the tairagai (penn shell). The asparagus roll was $7.

like I said, worth a look.

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  1. Gobo is burdock, much reverred ingredient for stew in Japan for sumo wrestlers (along with hundreds of other ingredients), and apparently has some interesting healing properties.

    Katsuoboshi I believe are dried bonito flakes (Japanese name for bonito, even though that word sounds Japanese in itself, is katsuo). You can get the flakes at any Asian supermarket/grocery store, commonly used for seasoning, sometimes decoration/flavoring, as well as to make broth for various means.

    Sebo sounds like a good Japanese place, especially if they have kibinago (only Sushi Sam's in San Mateo offered this fish, that I know of, but only when in season), sardine (iwashi), and pen shell (tairagai) which might be a little exotic for some. I applaud restaurants that want to try to offer a wider variety of the less common stuff to broaden the tastebuds of others.

    Was the kibinago sushi served in braided pairs per piece? That's how Sam prepped it for sushi, looked quite nice.

    3 Replies
    1. re: K K

      Well, not sure what you mean by "braided," but there were two of them, placed delicately on top of a stack of, uh, some sort of small green shoot (yes, I know, I stink). It was very pretty, though. Generally speaking, they did put some care into the appearance of the plate, and didn't simply place everything in a row. Some things were placed on top of each other, some draped over other ingredients, etc.

      1. re: dunstable

        I like your posts alot. I think they are informative. Here's the address of the restuarant for those interested
        Sebo
        517 Hayes St
        San Francisco, CA 94102
        (415) 864-2181

        A few other Chowhound reports
        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...
        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...
        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

        Nice to get a fresh report. Things always change food-wise in restaurants. You know, don't sweat the writing. I woulnd't have thought anything if you didn't mention it. Write to share deliciousiness and, if you want to, write for yourself. I personally find I pay more attention to the meal if I know I'm going to write about it on Chowhound. I wind up enjoying food more when I'm not just scarfing it down but thinking a tiny bit about why it is good or bad.

        1. re: rworange

          thanks!

          also, before I forget, at the end of the meal they gave me two small plums, gratis.

    2. Thanks for the up-to-the-minute report! Michael Black is half Okinawan, so that might explain the one and only choice of Orion beer.

      Your earlier posting -
      http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

      1. I had another very good meal at Sebo last night. There were three of us, and we ate at the bar. The first time I ate there, two of us shared the seven course omakase:
        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

        This time, we each got an order of the five course omakase, and it was really good. We followed that with three orders of nigiri : Suzuki (black fin bass, not the stripped bass that most other places serve), Chu-toro and Ankimo. The Ankimo was house cured, and it was absolutely fantastic, incredibly smooth and buttery. Even better than the Ankimo at Ino Sushi, where they also cure their own.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Malik

          Mind if I ask how much the tab was?

          1. re: Melanie Wong

            The price is the only thing that's preventing me from going to Sebo more often. With three 5 course omakases, plus the three extra nigiris and two beers, the total came to $80 per person before tip. Still a good value for the meal we got, but just not an every week type of place at that price range.

        2. Well, if money is no matter, Sebo beats every sushi house in the Bay Area, and it's a big plus that you don't have to speak Japanese to communicate effectively with the sushi chefs. I find it humorous that Michael Bauer calls Mike the Asian buffer version of Orlando Bloom. Both Mike and Danny are very good-looking, and young as well, and sometimes I have some sort of cognitive dissonance with this fact, thinking oh no this is just another mediocre fusion sushi place. The sake selection is also one of the best in the Bay Area. While Sakae offers a more extension selection of traditional daiginjo, Sebo boasts refrigerated unpasteurized undiluted sake (nama genshu) selected by Beau from True Sakae. This is a truly amazing sushi/sake place, with nice decor as well. I just wish I could go there every day.

          Vincent

          1 Reply
          1. re: vincentlo

            "Buffer"?

          2. You know...buffer...more buff. Here's the exact wording from Michael Bauer: "[Michael] Black, perpetually clad in dark colors, looks like a buff Japanese American Orlando Bloom."

            Vincent