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Oct 1, 2009 04:33 PM

Best solo sushi lunch

Longtime LA chowhound here, exiled to small-town Pennsylvania for the last year+. The food situation here is bleak, to put it mildly...I thought every region had its delicacy but it appears Western PA is an exception. (Unfortunately, Primanti Bros/Pittsburgh-style sandwiches may look interesting, but after trying the real thing several times I'm sad to report they are extremely lacking in the flavor department. In fact, they taste like nothing at all.)

Anyway, except for two stops at Sushi Yasuda in NY, it's been over a year since I've had really good sushi and I'm going through withdrawal. BUT! I'm heading to SF tomorrow for the USC-Cal flight gets in around 11 and I'll be taking BART to Berkeley from there. My thoughts immediately ran to stopping for sushi somewhere in SF en route to Cal.

So here's what I'm looking for:

*friendly to a solo diner
*chef's choice+++/omakase+++
*the more traditional the better (i like to keep the blowtorches/jalapenos/handrolls to a minimum)
*money is not an issue here, I'm just looking for quality, whether it's a hole-in-the-wall or a Michelin-star operation
*accessible from public transit in some form -- I'm willing to make a detour within reason but it can't be in San Jose or something

My thanks in advance for your advice.

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  1. Unfortunately the best SF city traditionalist sushi places are dinner only and as some will say, pale in comparison to Yasuda. Should you reconsider showing up late to the game just to have dinner first, there's Sebo, Ino, Murasaki (which closes at midnight). Bear in mind that "omakase" might work best at Sebo and in terms of quality of fish, they will likely outperform everyone. Whereas at Ino, what you get at omakase may vary (also based on customer/chef relationship) and it is probably better for you to order a la carte as a first timer, but the sushi rice receipe and especially monkfish liver is unbeatable (paired with always crispy nori). Murasaki has an "omakase" listing on the menu for $60, but what you get is a mix of sushi, including big crazy rolls and sashimi plus mixed green salad, aka a little bit of everything yawner, unless you specifically request nigiri omakase with the chef. The bigger plus is that Murasaki closes at midnight. Sebo does not take reservations so you will have to show up early and put your name down (like 5 to 10 mins before they open). Neither of these places will have the breadth and depth of what Yasuda can offer (especially when Y-man offers multiple cuts and speciies of eel and tuna)

    Otherwise the best detour, maybe Sushi Ran in Sausalito (which is open for lunch. Get there early, get a seat at the bar. Based on the pics I've seen of their nigiri sushi and presentation, it might just be the one to hit if you can figure out your way to get there via public transportation.

    For late night (like 1 am to 2 am), Ryoko's in SF might be ok from what I've read, side dishes and nigiri (including I hear, Japanese beef nigiri).

    5 Replies
    1. re: K K

      Actually I take that back. Best detour for you is to take the Caltrains south from SFO, get off Burlingame station (which is probably 5 to 10 mins), and go across the street to Sakae Sushi. Should be on par with Sushi Ran (plus a lot of high end fish Fed Ex'd from Tsukiji Tokyo Fish Market, including seasonal exotic stuff not too many other places have).

      1. re: K K

        Great because that is #1 on the sushimonster's list.

      2. re: K K

        Didn't sakae close? Has it found a new location?

        1. re: Melanie Wong

          New name or sister?

          243 California Dr
          Burlingame, CA 94010
          (650) 558-9530

          1. re: wolfe

            This is what happened...

            Sakae thought they were going to lose their lease a year back. They already had plans to open a 3rd restaurant, to name it after Hiro-san's father (who passed away recently) in anticipation. But they didn't lose their lease at the time when Noboru opened.

            Then they REALLY lost their lease or whatever really happened. That old spot is empty now.

            So Noboru has been renamed to Sakae.

            jbeecher, please let us know where you ended up today!

      3. This may take a little work on your part but here is the SushiMonster list for the Peninsula. In addition there are 3 shops in the airport that you can investigate.