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Best japanese in SF for bday dinner?

Doesn't have to be fancy, just fabulous. It'd be great if it has more then sushi. Thanks.

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  1. I haven't been in town long enough/eaten in enough places to make claims about the "best" yet; but we have had lovely experiences at Koo in the Inner Sunset on Irving. They have to flight sushi but excel at cooked dishes. its also a very classy place with a great atmosphere, good service and, if memory serves, a better than average wine list for such a place. I'm sure you'll get some ofther recs as well.

    Ebisu is fabulous for sushi (can't speak to their non-sushi dishes) but they're closed for remodeling this month. They're running some version of their operation across the street at Hotei (its on 9th ave in the Sunset) but I don't know exactly what that means.

    5 Replies
    1. re: ccbweb

      just an fyi: ebisu is not closed. we were there on tuesday for a great dinner.
      i forgot to ask when they would actually be closing. :(

      1. re: stuckinschool

        Huh, are they in fact still planning on closing to rennovate? We've actually been wanting to go back to Hotei (great noodles) but haven't been since we thought Ebisu had moved in.

        1. re: ccbweb

          Which noodles do you recommend at Hotei? So far everything has been dreadful.

          1. re: Melanie Wong

            Hehe, you took the words right out of my mouth. I haven't dared to step foot in there again. Have things improved recently?

            1. re: shortexact

              We were impressed with the cold somen noodles and the Shoyu ramen. We've only been there once, about a month ago, so I can't speak with ongoing expertise here.

      1. I don't know if there are any Japanese restaurants in SF that I would deem fabulous, although Kappa (mentioned here) could be but I have never been there so I can't say. It's very expensive, however. We had dinner the other night before the Film Festival at Fuku Sushi (1581 Webster inside the Kinokuniya Building in Japan Center), a place that has been there for years and I had never been to. The atmosphere has a nice elegance and there is a large menu of small plates. I especially liked the miso-grilled hamachi we had and the sushi and sashimi tasted very fresh. Yaki nasu (grilled eggplant) was also quite good as was the yakitori. This place reminded me of some of the better places you can find in the South Bay. They also have tatami rooms (at least I noticed one), but they may only be available for large parties.

        For the record I have been underwhelmed by both Koo and Ebisu, though I haven't been to the latter in many years. It always ends up on many Best lists and I never understood why it has been so lauded.

          1. re: lrostron

            I think Ozumo might actually be a good choice for the OP in terms of having a good atmosphere for a birthday dinner as well as plenty of space (in case there is a sizable group of people involved). There is also quite a bit more than sushi on the menu, and that was another trait the OP was looking for. The food is at least decent, and it depends what you're looking for, but I can't ever imagine myself using the word "fabulous" to describe Ozumo's food.

          2. For more than sushi, Bushi-Tei is my next place to try for the right occasion. Here's the search result with several reports.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Melanie Wong

              Great food but not technically Japanese -- more fusion a la Ame, in my opinion.

              Concur with Fuku and would also heartily recommend Toraya on Fillmore.

            2. If you are 4 or less (2 would be best), then Kiss. This is where I was taken for my birthday. Sat at counter and had a fabulous time.

              1. If you are looking for less traditional Japanese, and are interested in something more innovative, I think that Namu in the Inner Richmond on Balboa is a really neat place. The wait staff is attentive and knowledgable about their well selected wine and sake collection. They are also very knowledgable about their food. This place has a minimalist vibe and is very cool. The service is small plates style, but they have a grown-up burger for those who can't deal with the Japanese/Korean preparations.

                I have been here twice and think it is a great addition to the 'hood.


                1 Reply
                1. re: Jeni Bean

                  It sounds like they've finally gotten their liquor license then. When I was there a few weeks ago, they still hadn't gotten it yet, and they weren't serving any wine or sake.

                  1. A really nice little restaurant, but probably too low-key to be suitable for a birthday celebration, is Japantown's Kuishinbo. Run by a husband and wife, he handles kitchen, she handles front of the house. Very authentic casual Japanese dishes, comparable to San Jose J-Town's Gombei. They serve sushi and sashimi, but I've never had any there. I usually order off the specials board, which is the market fresh stuff. Had excellent grilled sardines once.

                    Last weekend I had the kaki fry off the regular menu, which was very good -- crispy outside, tasty oysters, and not oily. Came with rice, shiromiso soup, lotus root boiled in mirin/soy, and a little salad of green leaf lettuce and daikon sprouts, with goma dressing. All fresh, all good.

                    1. Okoze on Union on Russian Hill has wonderful sushi, fabulous other dishes (the volcano -- uni fried in shiso leaves -- is amazing), and a celebratory atmosphere.

                      1. Thanks for all the recs. One I have is Bistro Chin on California at 6th. It is excellent. Not bday material in terms of ambience but my favorite sushi in SF. Sushi is great and the small plates are outstanding. Spicy tuna spring roll, fried oyster on cabbage w/ spicy hamachi, etc etc. Very innovative.

                        btw, any thoughts between Kiss and Zushi Puzzle?

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: Juliejf

                          I've never done Zushi Puzzle but Kiss is a huge favorite of mine - truly elegant and excellent. Go with an appetite and order the biggest Omakase your pocketbook can afford!

                          1. re: Juliejf

                            I just ate at Bistro Chin for the 2nd time last night. Quite good. I especially enjoyed the interesting small plates.

                          2. Ten Ichi on Fillmore is an old favorite of mine, and suitable for a b-day dinner. They have good sushi there, but I'm a huge fan of their Donburi dishes.