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Best Sushi in San Francisco?

As a newcomer, I have yet to find a great sushi place in San Francisco. Any thoughts??

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  1. If you set your standards of greatness in Japan, Los Angeles, or New York, you might be out of luck.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Robert Lauriston

      But there are a lot of Chowhounds that love sushi and report on places often. I suggest doing a search to see the most recent reports.

      I haven't been to Kiss Sushi yet but it certainly gets high marks on this board.

      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        I have to agree with this. I have found ok to nothing kinda thing.

        1. re: Robert Lauriston

          Really? In all of San Francisco, no good sushi?

          1. re: thirtyeyes

            I'd have to agree with Robert on this one. There is plenty of very good sushi to be had in San Francisco but it seems that there is precious little (and I've yet to have) sushi that is as great as can be had in many places in New York, Los Angeles or, to my palate, Seattle. I haven't been to Japan, so can't compare anything there and San Francisco.

            1. re: ccbweb

              We've split some off topic replies about finding good sushi in Seattle into a new thread on the Pacific Northwest board. That topic can be found here: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/510942

          2. re: Robert Lauriston

            Sebo's my new favorite. Reasonable prices given the exceptional quality.


          3. I have had excellent sushi at Hime on Lombard. But I don't know a hell of a lot about sushi...Someone else here did not like it.

            1. If you tell us your tastes in sushi, that might help with suggestions.

              Site Talk: Style Picker feature -

              1. If you like creative rolls, I recently tried Sushi Bistro in the inner richmond and it's my new favorite (around 6th ave. and Balboa).

                My standbys are Taraval Okazu-ya and Noriega Okazu-ya (outer sunset), and Ebisu (inner sunset).

                1. Here's a recent thread on SF sushi. I strongly recommend you do individual searches for the restaurants named herein, since there is no one uber-thread consolidating the whole scene:


                  Sushi Monster

                  1. Koo in SF will easily satisfy all sorts of sushi lovers from the fancy roll fanatics to the classical purists.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: K K

                      KK, Care to elaborte on Koo? How's the selection, quality, rice? Fresh wasabi or no? Would you rank it above or below Kaygetsu? ;-)

                      1. re: Porthos

                        Koo is an entirely different experience. I don't recommend it if you are only going for nigiri, but highly recommend it if you want an omakase with cooked food (and the cooked food is indeed amazing) that includes nigiri. The chef owner has a resume of some years spent at a Boston sushi restaurant (supposedly Boston's first ever with a long history), up to 7 years at Sushi Ran and some at Ace Wasabi + Tokyo Go Go. I wouldn't say their fish quality beats Sakae or Kaygetsu, but the chef's skills with cooked food is superb with European and Japanse influences. Some of the stuff may be from the regular or special menu, and others are custom made.

                        They have fresh wasabi, but I'm not sure what variety it is. Perhaps it is the kind domestically grown. They don't grate it on the spot but they do grate it everyday and keep the contents in their hoshizaki case inside a container and of course provided with sashimi (also part of omakase). If the chef likes you he'll give you some during the nigiri portion of dinner. Lighter green color that's like a mint chip ice cream green, has a much stronger kick than the hmmm pre-packaged? squeeze tube grainy variety of hon-wasabi that places like Kitsho and Sakae use.

                        Ikura no shoyu zuke (or ikura marinated in soy sauce and sake) is the best I've had there, even surpassing Ino Sushi and Sushi Sam's versions. Their uni came from Mendocino county/North Coast, and they've even had kurodai when I went that I thought was shimaaji belly at first.

                        I'm not surprised if they use a mix of True World or IMP for fish sourcing because you have to use either or in the business to get the quality stuff and be on top of the competition. Kinmedai doesn't seem that hard to get these days for some places, but getting quality cuts is key. Theirs was nice and firmer than the soft one at Kitsho, in a way nice but different. The kinemedai kama nitsuke (stewed in soy sauce) I had there though, was sublime, tastes like kinki (both are deep sea fish).

                        Koo's website at sushikoo.com should have an online menu with prices. Specials menu selection changes daily. I also recommend their in house smoked ankimo, which tastes like a smoked hard cheese. They might not always have it.

                        So in short, Koo's omakase (with cooked food) is like eating at an upscale fancy restaurant but without the pretense, or dress code enforcement. Some of the dishes I had looked so beautiful they would have qualified to be high end European/French/Cali fusion.

                        Porthos, do me (and some of us) a favor and post a contact email in your profile please :-), or just contact me via my profile (if you need more specifics).

                        1. re: K K

                          regarding sakae's hon-wasabi, the last time I ordered omakase, jun-san had a wasabi root which he grated right before serving up a nice chunk of o-toro.

                          Usually I see them squeezing it from the plastic bottle, so to see it grated right in front of me was very cool

                      2. re: K K

                        So, ah, how much should one expect to drop at Koo for a big nigiri feast? <grin>

                        Sushi Monster

                        1. re: Sushi Monster

                          I've had a nigiri only experience and it costs be around ~50 per person including beers and sake. I liked KOO a lot but I felt it was a little on the plain side. They have the technique down they just dont have much of a variety in terms of seasonal fish.

                      3. I wrote a review on Shimo II (on Taravel). Check it out if you're still trying to find good sushi in the area. Let me know what you think if you go! Maybe it's just me, but I think it's San Francisco's best kept secret.

                        1. My favorite sushi in SF is at Sebo (even though the chefs/owners are two "gringos"!).

                          517 Hayes St, San Francisco, CA 94102

                          1. Tekka, on Balboa between 6th and 7th ave.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: dudesinmexico

                              several one word recs of Tekka on this board. care to elaborate?

                              1. re: dudesinmexico

                                People like Tekka for their generous portions on nigiri sushi, some have said literally 2 mouthfuls worth or more. The sushi chef there is not classically trained and has no problems serving up sushi that size (there are photos on the net, also on yelp). But the strength of Tekka is in their cooked dishes. This is one reason why the cooked stuff menu on the wall is in Japanese and those who don't go there for cooked dishes, order from the sushi menu instead which is in English.

                                Regarding Sebo, one of the owners to my understanding is half Okinawan. I still have yet to go but everyone swears by it, also a very non Japanese friendly place. If you also enjoy Sakae Sushi, apparently Sebo is an equivalent of a sort. But if you don't like Sakae Sushi's sushi rice flavor and construction of nigiri, then perhaps you'll find Sebo the same way based on trusted friends reports. Sebo is also the only sushi restaurant in the Bay Area I'm aware of, that has a top side sliding fish counter (very common in Japan), versus the typical Hoshizaki's everyone else uses. Not a food detail, but very cool nonetheless.

                                Apparently Kyo Ya in SF is a great place for old school nigiri sushi, but it is expensive. I'm told their tai is ishidai (parrotfish) from Japan, which I have yet to see at least in the Peninsula to South Bay.

                                1. re: K K

                                  Kyo Ya was really disappointing. We had an extremely expensive dungeness crab salad and they used frozen crab that tasted like it had thawed a couple times. I thought the nigiri was okay but not in the top tier of SF restaurants.

                              2. Tokyo Go Go on 16th Street between Mission and Valencia. They know what they are doing. It's the only place in S.F. that I am aware of where you can get 3 different grades, all excellent, of belly (fatty) tuna on a given night. Give it a try. It can be a bit of a scene the later it gets, so go early.

                                1. I would avoid Sebo at all costs. Went recently and just posted a report:


                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: brian j

                                    Sebo was good to us -- we ate there a few weeks back and the sushi was fresh and delicious, ditto the sake, and the service was pleasant enough. For a nice sushi experience, I would not hesitate to return or to recommend it.

                                    And on another note: For a somewhat less expensive neighborhood sushi meal, we both love Kiji on Guerrero/22nd.

                                    1. re: brian j

                                      I've not had such a dismal experience at Sebo. That's not to say it can't happen in the future. But then again, I always sidle up to the bar, somehow or the other.

                                      I just stick to the sushi, that's it. I've never been disappointed.

                                    2. I will be visiting San Francisco later on this month, and wonder what will be a good sushi place to go with my girlfriend. Im looking for an omakase type place like sassabune or nozawa in LA, anything close to or similar to those restaurants?

                                      9 Replies
                                      1. re: s0memale

                                        Is there a reason you particularly want sushi while in San Francisco? The sushi in town here really isn't going to blow you away in the ways that the best sushi in LA will/does. There are other options that San Francisco does have that are better than anywhere else, in my mind.

                                        1. re: ccbweb

                                          Okay, maybe it was a bit too much to ask something similar to the places in LA. My girlfriend and I will be visiting from Toronto. We have great sushi restaurants here (sushi kaji if your ever in town!), but every sushi restaurant seems to have the same array of fish.

                                          So I guess i'm hoping I can head to a sushi restaurant in SF where I'd get something a little different then here in Toronto most importantly ; A good selection of FRESH fish. I will probably be staying at the Westin St. Francis and will not have a car.

                                          Any suggestions would be great, thank you!

                                          1. re: s0memale

                                            Sebo has great fish, almost all from Japan. Lots of things you won't find most other places in this area.

                                            1. re: s0memale

                                              Ebisu is a rowdy and raucous place, but they have a huge selection of fish. They also do a pretty thriving business so the turnover on the fish is super fast which helps on the fresh part. This isn't an upscale sort of place, just good sushi.

                                              1. re: ccbweb

                                                Thanks for the replys guys. I think I narrowed down my list to Sebo, Ino or Kiss. Any final comments on these 3 from anyone?

                                                1. re: s0memale

                                                  You will see a lot of complaints about Ino because he uses powdered wasabi and a LOT of it. I don't mind that so much because I live in the neighborhood and can walk in whenever I want.

                                                  Kiss, on the other hand, is head-and-shoulders above Ino but usually always requires a reservation as there are only a dozen seats and, because his personalized omakase service is preferred, often books up.

                                                  I've heard great things about Sebo but have yet to go (outside my J-Town neighborhood).

                                                  1. re: Carrie 218

                                                    How far in advance does Kiss accept reservations? I guess they're not open for lunch, so someone could safely call in the afternoon.

                                                  2. re: s0memale

                                                    If you can get a spot at the bar Zushi Puzzle is the best I've had here. You're in great hands with Chef Roger.

                                            2. re: s0memale

                                              What ccbweb said.

                                              Sasabune and Nozawa are unique to LA and you definitely won't find that kind of attitude, plating, or style in SF. Omakase in SF is always an option that you request or appears on the menu as a set meal, not compulsory/mandatory like at those places.

                                            3. Here's my rule. Friday night, you can get great sushi in SF. The good places are hard to get into, but they're hummin' and the entire sushi industry is swingin' in your favor. I think the peak Friday I ever had might have been Ebisu, but sometimes it's hard to tell the fish, the "whole package", the sake, the time of day, which end of the bar you're on.

                                              Often, people who say a particular restaurant is good or not-so-good eat once, twice, three times, and don't distinguish the days of week. Both in-towners (who eat every night) and out-of-towners (who might be here for just specific nights).

                                              So, with the exception of KK, everyone's posting short Yea or Nay, and pointers to real reviews (valid, of course). Not much info.

                                              My best night in LA was BlueFin, where I had that sinful bluefin apple. Inside 100% avocado, outside 100% bluefin. I went to a doctor about 3 weeks later with bizarre in-head-buzzing --- later thinking, mercury? But it went away. Hopefully a small price for an outstanding. And. Really. Outstanding. Dish. I can taste it today, 3 years later.

                                              I never developed a real go-to for sushi in my san francisco years, east side of town. My closest japanese was Moshi Moshi on third, a friendly neighborhood japanese but not a rec for sushi, then all the way to Blowfish, overrated except for the tempura grapes, sake selection, and overall scene, Tokyo A GoGo was not open yet, next closest was either no-name on church or the place on Noe, not great.

                                              Now I live on the peninsula, and the sushi is plentiful. But you didn't ask about that.

                                              5 Replies
                                              1. re: bbulkow

                                                Tuesdays will be just as fresh as Fridays and a lot less crowded.

                                                1. re: bbulkow

                                                  Kiji last night, a Friday. As reported in another thread, absolutely the worst.

                                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                        Has anyone tried Ryoko recently? I used to go often a few years back when I lived in the city and loved it...