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Help! Good sushi in SF, neighborhood eats in North Beach?

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We are coming to San Fran next week, and we want to find the best sushi in town - freshest fish, unique SF ambience, etc., etc. My husband is very interested in a sushi place that does the boat thing - sushi floats by on boats and you pick up what you want. Can we get the best sushi with the boat experience?? Where should we go?

Also, we are staying in the North Beach neighborhood and would like to know some good eats there for breakfast and lunch.

Okay, one more - best dim sum in Chinatown?


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  1. there is a small restaurant on Colombus and Geary called Da Flora, owned by Flora & Mary Beth. Some people think this is some of the tastiest most simple Italian food around there. I think I have had some preety dam good meals there. All their bread an desserts are home made by MB and Flora is a real coneuseur of Italian wines. It is small, it is oldfashioned, but you will remember it fondly.

    3 Replies
      1. re: mambooster7

        Thank you, it's on our list! We love simple Italian, along with a simple wine!

        We'll let you know what we think after we've been.

      2. You will probably get tons of responses regarding the "best" sushi if you do some searching on the boards. This question gets asked at least twice month or maybe even once a week. I don't frequent the ultra expensive places, which is price is an indicator would suggest that it's the "best", but a few above average places may include Ino Sushi and Kyo Ya, located in the Grand Palace Hotel, though it's been over 10 years since I've been to either of these. I wonder if they stilll have sushi at the Nikko Hotel. I looked it up it's called Anzu. Hope others who have been to these places can comment.



        What I really wanted to comment on was the boat thing, no such thing as good boat sushi. Don't even try. The one in Japantown is the only one I know of, and that is below average at best.

        1 Reply
        1. re: badbatzmaru

          Thanks for the tips. We'll check into them - no one else has posted to say they have been more recently, but we're all for an adventure.

        2. La Boulange, the fancy patisserie on Columbus, is doing breakfast and lunch specials. Mama's (on Washington Square) for brunch is a SF institution. Osteria del Forno is a great little place on Columbus for lunch or dinner.... One could go on and on.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Gary Soup

            Oh my, how are we going to get to all these places in 4 days? We will just have to eat our way through the city.

            Thanks for the information - we'll hit what we can on this trip, and then have to plan another!

          2. Just a couple of notes -
            Boat places are tourist traps. Crap fish. The fish is floating by on a boat - of course it's not good.
            Unique SF ambiance - most good sushi places here have terrible atmosphere. The places with good atmosphere - they don't care about the fish. The places with good fish - they don't care about the atmosphere.
            I personally think Zushi Puzzle, at the bar, is the best sushi. But like the other poster said, everyone has a favorite here, so you're going to get a thousand different answers.

            1 Reply
            1. re: mrsricho

              Okay, we get it about the sushi boats. My husband was taken to one the last time he was in SF on a biz trip, so he liked the fun of it. But he was probably too loopy on sake to discern the lesser quality of the fish. We definitely want quality fish, and now we understand to look for a crappy atmosphere to lead us to best quality fish!

            2. My favorite sushi place in SF is Sebo on Hayes Street...no boat though.

              1. Our favorite dim sum places aren't in chinatown - but we'd recommend Yank Sing @ 101 Spear Street or Ton Kiang @ 5821 Geary Blvd. (between 22nd & 23rd).

                If you end up going to Mama's in north beach for brunch, please note that there is an old school bakery directly across the street that just sells focaccia bread. They sell out early, but if you're waiting in the often long line at Mama's, send your husband over to get a sheet of focacia. Ask the ladies who run the place to cut it, and you can have a piece while you wait in line and save the rest for later...Also in North Beach there's a place called Danilo Bakery @ 516 Green St. This place is tiny, but they do have a few tables and chairs. Having just gotten home from a trip to Italy, we were happy to find this place. Chose one of the sandwiches from the case - they sell out quickly too....our favorites are the ham and cheese, the vegetarian, and the tuna. Crisp flat bread, fresh ingredients. Yum. Also, lots of pastries are to be found here too.

                If you're going to Japantown - there's an ok sushi boat place there. It's a fun experience but if you're a a real connoisseur you won't be wowed by this sushi. On the other hand, if you're a sushi novice - boat sushi is good way to experiment, since each plate is only two pieces - you can try stuff, and if you don't love it, who cares...move on to the next little plate. We often take sushi virgins to boat places - because it's fun and not intimidating. If you do end up going to Japan town, there is a noodle shop (just across from boat sushi) that is good - it's called Mifune, and even our Japanese friends enjoy coming here for the noodle soups and tempura.

                There's a sushi place on Balboa near 6th called, Sushi Bistro that does some unique rolls along with great nigiri and sashimi. It's a bit of a scene and the tiny dining room can get noisy - but depending on your age, you could absolutely love it or really hate it. We just went last night and particularly enjoyed the C-2 roll, and the yellow tail nigiri. The nice thing about this place is that they take reservations. We also like Kabuto Sushi - Geary Blvd @ 15th St.

                Hope you enjoy your time in San Francisco....

                1 Reply
                1. re: Ellesf

                  Thanks for your extended response - all great info! I have never been to SF, and the hubby only a couple of times on short biz trips, so we are getting a better understanding of what is where. We are not sushi beginners, so we will forego the boat deal and look for top of the line fish. Thanks, too, for the dim sum tip - you're the only one to comment on that topic so far, so now we have a direction to go there, too. We will definitely enjoy SF, though with the continuing rain, wind and general crappy weather here in the Seattle area, we are wondering why we aren't escaping to Mexico! We must have planned this trip in the short hot season of August.... !!!!