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Japanese Monkfish Liver in SF Area Restaurants?03/08

In the Boston area, my fav. sushi chef prepares a simple dish of great monkfish liver, simply presented w/ ponzu sauce and slivered daikon and shiso.

We had our annual lovely brunch at Sea Salt in Berkeley yesterday , but i was not interested in their preparation because I personally want the punch of considerable acid w/ my monkf. liver ('ankimono' in japanese i think.) While sea salt's presentation is handsome, i do not like uni, and their dish has very little acid (rice wine vinegar) so I didn't order it. So I'm sure lots of you out there love the sea salt dish, BUT is there another plate of this in the area that has my goal of punched up acid component, but not the ponzu i've already had?Much appreciate your feedback.

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  1. I've had great ankimo at Sebo and at Uzen.

    I think any sushi bar could make it the way you want if you ask them to.

    1. Anko - Monkfish
      Kimo - liver

      shortened to Ankimo.

      Most Japanese sushi restaurants will have this item, either outsourced to a vendor, or they make their own. Some steam them in cylinders (hence the sausage like sticks) but refrigerated for some time so it ends up like a bit of a soft cheese for some preps.

      The real real real good places steam them a different way. One of the Sebo chefs told me they do steam them, but not in cylinders but chunks as is, then as soon as the water boils, they turn the water off, cover the lid and let it sit. Not sure where the rice wine marination and other ingrdients factor in. I still think Ino Sushi in SF makes the best ankimo prep hands down (enjoy with or without rice and nori) and the end result is something rich, creamy, with hints of sweet, alchol (from the sake) though not overpowering but excellent all round without the guilt like foie gras. And Sebo's version comes a close second. Both steam their ankimo this way (or pseudo "French style" whatever that means). Ino's ankimo does not even need scallions, minced orange spicey ginger and ponzu sauce, it's perfect as is. I'd say the same for Sebo's.

      Supposedly Hama-ko near the Haight does a nice version as some have said but you have to be lucky to catch them when they have it (or maybe it's reserved for the special customers). Stick with Ino or Sebo and you'll enjoy the best in SF.

      Other decent ankimo preps in the Peninsula but nowhere near as good as Ino or Sebo can be found at Sakae Sushi in Burlingame, or Sushi Sam's in San Mateo.

      3 Replies
      1. re: K K

        I second KK's positive assessment of Ino Sushi's Ankimo. Ino san makes his own Ankimo and is quite proud of it, as well he should be.

        1. re: Paul H

          Inoue-san has a knack for picking out the best monkfish liver lobes. Of course his receipe is secret. His ankimo is definitely one of his greatest strengths and offerings and even when paired with his excellent sushi rice receipe, it's a smashing out of the ballpark winner. (Even Danny Dunham of Sebo is a huge fan of Ino Sushi, arguably coowner Michael Black is too).

        2. re: K K

          I believe Ino's ankimo has the edge, but you really can't go wrong either Ino or Sebo. Last time I visited Hama-ko (quite awhile ago now), there was nice ankimo there as well, but it would be easier to just go for Ino or Sebo.

          Ino and Sebo both generally serve their ankimo as nigiri, occasoinally as gunkan but not with the ponzu prep that OP mentioned. IMO, the simpler preparation of the ankimo is much better, assuming you have a good product. Ino and Sebo's ankimo both have a complex flavor missing from most other restaurants' ankimo, and a ponzu-free prep really highlights the superiority of the product.

        3. Zushi Puzzle has fantastic ankimo. :-)

            1. my all time favorite ankimo has been at Ino. I've enjoyed it at many other places but Ino was just amazing.

              1. You may to try the ankimo, served in an appetizer called "spoonful of happiness" at Koo. in a chinese soup spoon you'll find a sliver of ankimo wrapped in raw halibut, drizzled with ponzu and white truffle oil. the other chinese soup spoon has uni and an raw quail egg yolk, again drizzled with ponzu. two spoons are served with a half shot of high-end sake. heaven!

                1. Unbelieveable that I actually forgot one entry/recommendation.

                  Despite what naysayers tell you, hit up Koo in San Francisco on Irving Street. Call ahead and see if they have SMOKED ANKIMO on the specials. Chef Kiyoshi-san uses a type of wood for the smoking (can't remember the name) and the result is very similar to a very finely textured smoked hard cheese, except it's monkfish liver instead. Paired and plated with some beets to take the edge off the palette. It's the best fusion and out of the box dish prep ever.

                  Some pics from flickr



                  5 Replies
                  1. re: K K

                    oh boy oh boy!. it's at the top of my list for our next visit. thanks so much!!
                    I have a thing for smoked foods.

                    btw, if you haven't tried the smoked chilean sea bass that continues to be a signature dish at betelnut, do have it. lovely.
                    they developed a very innovative(to me that is) technique for oven- smoking which was described to me in detail by barney-the talented Hawaiian chef we met there years ago(who has since moved on and I wish I knew where he is now.).

                    1. re: opinionatedchef

                      More memories coming back to me now....

                      Then you MUST make Koo a destination stop. Make sure you talk with chef owner Kiyoshi-san who actually did a gig at one of Boston's first Japanese run Japanese restaurants for upwards of 6+ years (the name of the place escapes me) before he ended up working at SF's Ace Wasabi then Tokyo Go Go, which pre-dates his restaurant Koo.

                      The beets are served with a su-miso glaze on top (su meaning it has vinegar prep in it, but has great flavor). Goes very well with a bite of the smoked ankimo.

                      1. re: K K

                        hold on, KK, ... i'm on the other line booking a return flight to SF....!!

                        1. re: opinionatedchef

                          www.sushikoo.com for more info. You might want to call later to see if they will have that special dish during your visit so you don't arrive disappointed. But that 2 spoonfuls of happiness dish afforementioned I believe it's on their regular menu (call and ask to confirm) which you also want to try in the same visit.

                          All linked places are open for dinner only. I highly recommend you squeeze in a dinner at Ino Sushi in SF Japantown just for the ankimo. Read up this thread for what to expect


                          Ino Sushi
                          22 Peace Plz # 510, San Francisco, CA

                          408 Irving St, San Francisco, CA 94122

                          1. re: K K

                            kk, thanks so much. we always stay at the queen ann at sutter/ocvtavia; quiet, historic, funky, inexpensive, well located. so now we'll just walk down the street for a dinner or 2 or 3...!!. (not back to quince though, after last year. food not noteworthy for us, and staff toooooo all over you.) th you again.