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Mar 9, 2008 10:13 PM

Sebo, SF report w/ pics

We got there about 6:30pm Fri. and thought we'd be in for a wait since this place is small and very popular. We were totally surprised that there were 2 spaces left at the sushi counter and the main dining area was completely empty!

So we got the 2 counter space and it's Awesome sitting so close to the 2 guys. We got the Hapa one (didn't ask his name..he told us his mom is Japanese). The other guy has tatoos on both arms.

Free tap water in glass bottle & edamame (soy beans) right after being seated.

I had a list of the nigiri I wanted to try:
uni (sea urchin from Santa Barbara) $9- I wanted Hokkaido uni but they didn't have it. The uni we got was very yummy. Even if u think u don't like uni, get theirs.

Kanpachi (amberjack) $7
ankimo (monkfish liver from Boston) $8
Honmaguro (Bluefin tuna) $10 - they only get a small amount on go on Fri!
Kanburi (winter yellowtail) $9-only available in the winter, so hurry if u want to try it.
tai (sea bream) $7
saba (mackerel) $8
kohada (shad) $8
hotategai (scallop) $8

Did enjoy all the nigiri, Two complaints: RICE wasn't that good and fell apart from the fish too easily. AND: didn't like the music, it gets too Loud in there!

I wanted maguro maki ($10) w/ Kaiware, avocado, lemon, sesame oil & sea salt..but he probably didn't hear us, and we were getting kinda full so didn't get it..though others next to us seemed to like it and it looked yummy.

Our total was $80.29 before tip for 9 kinds of nigiri. So if you got bank & want fresh sushi go here.

Red seedless grapes given free w/ bill.

One unisex bathroom in the front, credit cards taken. Closest Bart stop: Civic Center and just walk about 7 blocks and you're there. Next to Patxi Pizza, no Sebo sign except on the window. Read they don't take reservation & the wait can be long.

Hrs: Tue-Sat 6:00 p.m.-10:00 p.m.

My pics:

517 Hayes St, San Francisco, CA 94102

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  1. What is the difference between Hokkaido uni and regular uni?

    I am linking to the main Place record because those pictures are so great. The Place search has a bug because the punctuation has to match exactly. So in this case, leaving the comma out between San Francisco and CA probably showed no existing record.

    517 Hayes St, San Francisco, CA 94102

    2 Replies
    1. re: rworange

      I don't really know what the difference is. I just had my note that Windy said Hokkaido uni was one of her Top Ten Taste of 2007. The uni I got was good though.

      Thanks for creating another link for the post.

      1. re: rworange

        Hokkaido's an island, the northernmost part of Japan, that has a reputation for great uni. The Hokkaido uni I had at Sebo was the best I've had.

      2. Those pictures are so fish porn! Great interior shots of the restaurant, too. Thanks for the report!

        1. Hokkaido uni is arguably one of Northern coast Japan's most famous seafood, a highly prized item amongst gourmets. It's given the Japanese name ezo baifun uni with ezo being the archaic name for Hokkaido, and baifun having a fond name of "horse poop" for some whacky reason. The gonads themselves are a darker orange with a hint of brown, versus the yellow brown of our Santa Barbara uni counterparts. It really depends on the kind of kelp these urchins feast on, that determine the insides.

          Hokkaido uni's actual "cousin" so to speak are the urchins from Boston. At least their gonads look the same. Tastewise I'd say Hokkaido uni is by far sweeter, but the textures are not that far apart otherwise.

          Hokkaido uni at most places are very expensive. It's a substitute for most sushi bars when they can't get in SB uni (or if it is out of season). So do ask on the price/call ahead. If you are really lucky there may be a random sushi bar that can source hokkaido uni on the shell (Kitsho in Cupertino supposedly had them during winter timeframe).

          I like Sebo's menu in that they tell you exactly where the fish, clam or seafood item came from (ie what region or prefecture in Japan). Their bluefin seems to be from amami island, which if you wiki it, is a set of islands off Kyushu (another region famous from everything ramen to seafood). However not long ago Sebo did manage to source some baby bluefin (meiji honmaguro) and that's another huge treat if you ever get to try it. I can't remember if they ever got around to sourcing kindai maguro, which is bluefin raised via sustainable farming (original research done interesting by kindai university, in ... Osaka?!)

          Wish I had a chance to try kanburi (adult yellowtail specimen). I hear it is also great as shabu shabu in Japan with ponzu sauce.

          Sebo's shoyu ikura has some sake marination in it as well, in addition to soy sauce. It can be a bit potent, but it's very very nice.

          You can also request omakase here, ie let the chef's decide for you.

          6 Replies
          1. re: K K

            I was just reading somewhere that Sebo's bluefin now comes from an experimental farm.

            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              It could be "kindai maguro" then, I suppose only Mike and Danny can confirm this. If you google these words, one of the search results is a pdf file that describes this sustainable farming in some detail with various contacts/email addresses in Japan. Very interesting reading.

            2. re: K K

              The meiji honmaguro was really a treat. And yes, they do now receive shipments of the kindai honmaguro, but that isn't their only source for tuna, at least, last time I checked.

              1. re: K K

                Email from Sebo:

                We have been, over the past couple of years, making efforts to be responsible and conscientious with regard to acquiring our product while at the same time maintaining the quality and authenticity of our food. We are now one of a very few restaurants in the US that are receiving bluefin tuna that has been cultivated from the egg by Kinki University in Japan. Unlike other methods of cultivation, this method has no impact on natural populations. They are raised in low population density and are far superior to other cultivated bluefin that we have tried. Not only is the feed organic and pretty close to what the tuna would eat naturally, they also log what the fish eat and what water they are living in every day of its life. Additionally, the fish benefit from the low population density by being able to swim more naturally, as cage free chickens taste better than caged. By controlling where the fish swim/live the university is also able to significantly reduce exposure to bacteria and other contaminants resulting in a fish that is free of chemicals, hormone and antibiotics. We feel this is the only practical solution in maintaining the bluefin population around the world. We are hoping to receive this tuna every Friday as there are only 2 to 3 fish sent to the U.S. At this stage the university is still developing and refining the cultivation methods and are not a profit seeking venture. If you haven't tried it yet, you should definitely stop by and let us know what you think, we are working indirectly with the university to provide them with feedback, questions or concerns. Also for a short period of time we will have kanburi, which is the largest and oldest (=fattiest) stage of the yellowtail. It's only around for a couple months at most in the winter.

                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  My bad, yep it's Kinki university, not Kindai.

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    We ate at Sebo for the first time last night and we were blown away; we also chatted with Danny and Michael about the Kinki tuna. They said that 5 restaurants in the US are getting the tuna, including Sebo, The French Laundry, Alinea, Charlie Trotter's and one more that I can't recall at the moment. We thought the tuna was delicious.