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Oct 26, 2008 05:53 PM

Moderately-Priced Sushi in San Francisco


I've done several searches on this board, but haven't been able to find a clear answer to my question. I'll be visiting from Chicago and understand that sushi in San Francisco is far better than what I'm used to.

My husband and I will be staying at a B&B in the Western Addition, so we're close to Japantown. I'd appreciate recommendations for moderately-priced sushi in the area - - food for about $50-60 per person for a nice-sized meal. Do we need to spend more to get great sushi?

We generally enjoy more traditional sushi - - we don't need olive tapenade on our tuna nigiri or mango sauce on our salmon. The space doesn't need to be fancy - - the food just needs to be good. A colleague has suggested Kiss as a good, but perhaps pricey, option.

Thanks in advance for your help.

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  1. For that much (not what I would describe as moderately priced) you can go to Kiss or Ino.

    Keep in mind there's a lot of mediocre to bad sushi in and near Japantown.

    Otherwise I'd recommend going further west on Geary to the Richmond district, where you have your pick of Kabuto, Murasaki, and on the right nights Okina or Tekka.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Windy

      Hi, Windy. Thanks for the advice.

      I understand what you're saying about "moderately priced." I just wanted to exclude spots that would run us $200+ for a good-sized meal. In Chicago, we typically have a hard time getting out of a sushi place for less than $40/person, and this isn't at the expensive places.

      Our sushi night is probably going to be a Saturday night. Given the comment about the "right nights," if this info helps, it would be good to know.

      We have a car, and aren't shy about using public transportation, so we'll travel for the best sushi. I just like to walk when I can.

      Thanks again.

      1. re: RChicago

        Since you do have a car, I would recommend Sebo - Hayes Valley and Sushi Koo - Inner Sunset.

        Ino - Japantown may be a little north of $60 pp for a 'good sized' meal.

        1. re: osho

          Sebo is hard to do for under $50 per person. That's not to say the quality isn't very high, but the portions are traditional sized, not American. And it's a crime to go there and skip the sake.

          Tekka is closed Saturdays; Okina (very simple place on Arguello) is open.

          On the other hand, I wouldn't recommend driving on a Saturday night without allowing a lot of time looking for parking. Esp for Hayes Valley after 7 p.m. while the opera and symphony seasons are both on.

    2. I feel that Ino and Sebo are both likely to be too expensive for what you want. Although it is not traditional, I really enjoy Domo at the price point you mentioned. For $40 - $50 you can have a good amount of sushi and sake.

      I was there this past weekend and enjoyed the ankimo, the yellow tail scallion roll and (don't roll your eyes) the delicious spicy tuna balls. It is located on Laguna St in Hayes Valley.

      5 Replies
      1. re: Senor Popusa


        Domo is certainly not a destination sushi establishment I would steer visitors to. If you focus on just sushi, I think you can have a good meal at Sebo. Buy the sake from True Sake across the street - no corkage !

        Windy, I agree that Okina seems to be the best bet here - given that Tekka can be unreliable - in terms of not opening at all sometimes.

        1. re: osho

          Thank you again for the responses!

          1. re: RChicago

            If you do decide to go to Sebo (and like Osho, I do recommend it), just watch the tab. It is best if you sit at the bar (only 6 seats). Friday is fresher than Saturday.

            Rereading your post--you could easily walk to Sebo or Kiss or Ino. Ask your B&B for guidance on which way to walk to Hayes Valley to avoid the housing projects. And let us know where you end up.

            1. re: Windy

              Ino is closed for vacation until November 18th. It's expensive. Also note that chef Noboru Inoue has been known to be rude to customers unfamiliar with proper traditional sushi etiquette, so it's not the best place for sushi newbies. He's SF's own "sushi-nazi", BUT he has never expelled any customers like the "soup-nazi" in the Seinfeld TV show.

          2. re: osho

            I don't think you can get "a nice-sized meal" all in at Sebo for the price point suggested. I agree that Sebo is a destination place (lucky for me I live in the nabe so I am a regular there) and Domo isn't but for the price point suggested I don't think there is a true destination option unless they don't eat a lot.

            Domo is where I go when I want good sushi and am dining with people on a budget.

        2. Kiss and Kappa are really good small places near your B&B/Japantown, but prices might be out of your range. Like others have mentioned, if u go into the Richmond district area you'll find Okina and Murasaki (both traditional sushi), and further away, Kabuto (traditional & creative modern sushi, not Americanized), all within your budget. I like Kabuto which is also the most popular one in this area.

          In the sunset district area you'll find Sushi Koo (but lately I've heard complaints about unfriendly service, rushing people out) and Ebisu (crowded). I like Kazu Sushi. All are within your budget. Ebisu is the most popular place in this area.

          Sebo on Hayes street, is out of your quoted price range.
          Note: It's true that u can walk (+10 blocks) from Japantown to Hayes Valley. BUT a few people have been robbed or killed walking in between those 2 areas. So I recommend that u DO NOT walk at night in the Fillmore area. Although u could avoid the dangerous area by going around it and walking down Gough st.
          Here's my 2 cents worth: on Sundays Sebo serves "Izakaya" only (cooked Japanese tapas, no sushi), and on Mondays a different chef does California-French cuisine (starts 11/3). Let me explain that the sushi at Sebo is prepared by 2 Americans (the owners) and their knife skills were not the best, so last year they added chef Fukashi Adachi. The portions are tiny compared to everyone else, so u might still be hungry after spending $80 per person. Their redeeming value is that they buy/ import the finest/ freshest and most expensive fish available.

          For really upscale non-Americanized sushi (on a future visit, when u want to splurge) go to Kyo-ya in downtown SF, or Sushi Ran in Sausalito (one Michelin star).