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Sushi Sho to Reopen in El Cerrito

My neighborhood newsletter states, "Akitoshi Kawata, owner Sushi Sho, 26 yrs. on Solano Avenue is moving to 10749 San Pablo" next to Big O Tire, 1 1/2 blocks north of Moeser. I never tried it on Solano but had heard some very good reviews.
Does anyone have more information?

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  1. No but thank you for posting this, I've been wondering where he was going to reopen.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Missmoo

      thank g'ness, it's about time they reopened! i love sushi sho!

    2. News about whether they plan to keep the peculiar seating rules would be appreciated (no waiting allowed, bar seating only, no lines, no reservations).

      4 Replies
      1. re: bbulkow

        Many peculiar rules but I enjoyed it the one time I went. I had thought he was retiring. The place was for sale about a year ago.

        1. re: bbulkow

          If the same rules apply, well, waiting outside at Big O Tire in El Cerrito will be a bit less fun than waiting on Solano.

          1. re: bbulkow

            Good news that he's opening.

            I wasn't a regular, having only discovered Sushi Sho about a year before it closed. However, I didn't quite experience the rules described.

            In my experience, we were offered a seat at a table while waiting. From the table, we were offered to order drinks and small plates until the second seating.

            It was odd to have such a large space and only use a portion of the sushi counter, but we didn't mind. He was a bit of a "Sushi Nazi", but was also friendly enough.

            (Oops, didn't notice that this was an old tread with only some new posts on the bottom. Looks like we might have good news in Oct.)

            1. re: jman1

              When the old location opened over 20 years ago, Aki-San had another sushi chef behind the counter with him, another in the kitchen, 2 food servers, plus a dishwasher in the kitchen. Over the decades, as his rent increased along with other costs, his margins got smaller so he scaled back to just him and his wife doing the all the buying, prep, service, and clean-up. While his offerings were no longer all inclusive, I found his sushi and hospitality to always be wonderful and gracious.

              I really, really look forward to enjoying his company again.

          2. I went approximately 40 times in my 2 years living in Albany... 1 word: Phenomenal. Ultra-traditional, nigri/sashimi only. The fish is as fresh as it gets and Aki-san just takes so much pride in his food. His unagi, grilled to order over a habachi, would easily be my death row meal. He also smokes his own salmon and brews his own shoyu sauce, I believe. If you're in a hurry or have a palette geared towards American sushi, this would not be the right place. Your meal will take at least two hours and you'll wait a very long time to take a seat and almost as long for the first bite of food -- but it'll be transformational. Better than the Michelin 2-star Urasawa in LA in terms of sashimi & nigri IMO.

            Do any of you know if he's actually opened? I'll have to give him a call... I'm stuck in LA right now for business school, but I'm not joking when I say I'll fly up for a weekend to eat there one more time and give my heartfelt thanks to Aki-san and his wife for all the amazing meals I've been privileged to eat at Sushi Sho on Solano and great conversations I've shared with him and their other guests around the bar.

            -----
            Sushi Sho
            1645 Solano Ave, Berkeley, CA 94707

            2 Replies
            1. re: heyitsjai

              Drove by today, didn't look like it

              1. re: kc72

                drove by everyday. i stopped by and they are still working inside.

            2. Any change since the last post? I live in the city now so I can't check for myself. We're so thrilled he has found a way to reopen.

              14 Replies
                1. re: kc72

                  Reading this post made my day (even my week). That’s such wonderful news. It was our favorite place for sushi. The only negative thing about it was it was challenging to get seated because it was so popular and small. The sushi was always super high quality delicious and I liked the atmosphere. Aki-san could be stern, and while this was off-putting to some, there was a genuineness and warmth in the restaurant and in Aki-san himself that is lacking in most restaurants. And some of our most entertaining and memorable non-food restaurant experiences were watching his interactions with unseasoned newbies.

                  1. re: Ridge

                    I always loved when he would tell me the best way to eat one of his preparations!

                    1. re: Missmoo

                      I was in Berkeley this week and stopped by Monterey Fish Market on Hopkins only to discover that Aki-san serves sushi there on Saturdays!!!! Its a shame I had to leave before the weekend but I'll be back in a month and definitely be there on a Saturday for his sushi!

                      1. re: heyitsjai

                        Great tip --- could you please tell us more about the set up at the market?

                        1. re: Melanie Wong

                          Unfortunately I don't know... I stopped there on a Friday before my flight out :-( They had a poster saying they serve sushi by Aki on Saturdays so I asked the guys there if it was indeed Aki from Sushi Sho and they confirmed yes!

                          -----
                          Sushi Sho
                          1645 Solano Ave, Berkeley, CA 94707

                          1. re: heyitsjai

                            I was in 2 weeks ago to buy fish and while they were sampling 2 rolls (spicy tuna and a simple avocado) with some items in the case, I did not see anyone preparing or serving sushi - maybe he was taking a break? It was about 2:30. I did sample the rolls and thought they were average, rice too soft and the nori damp - perhaps they had been prepared way in advance. The set up seemed to be for takeout only; no chairs, crowded with customers there to buy fish and the deli like set up.

                            1. re: tomatoaday

                              Okay, please explain to me why there is such a cult following of Sushi Sho. I don't get it. I've been there several times in the last few years and have always thought that the food was okay, nothing great. I've sat at the bar and ordered a variety of sushi and specials, and have ordered entrees off the menu. It's fair but nothing like what people are describing. What am I missing? I think Taki Sushi a few miles away is far superior in terms of freshness, value and overall quality.

                              -----
                              Sushi Sho
                              1645 Solano Ave, Berkeley, CA 94707

                              Taki Sushi
                              10877 San Pablo Ave, El Cerrito, CA 94530

                              1. re: calalilly

                                Are you sure you are talking about the same place? To me the quality of the sushi at Sushi sho was always at the highest standard you could expect. Everything I ate there was very good to excellent with 90% of the things being excellent. Nothing could beat the fluke sashimi and he always managed to get his hands on bluefin Toro that was much better than anyplace around. It was the best Sushi in the Bay Area (at least in my opinion). And Aki San and his wife were great fun. I miss them.

                                1. re: calalilly

                                  I was under the impression that they served only sushi. Which entrees were on the menu?

                                  1. re: wolfe

                                    The only thing that might be considered an entree on the menu that I can recall is the hamachi kama (Aki-San grilled it back in the kitchen), and I really miss his preparation. (Other places seem to believe grill the collar too much, turning it into inedible charcoal on the outside and very overcooked flesh on the inside.)

                                    Also really miss his marinated salmon and his marinated saba.

                                    1. re: Stephanie Wong

                                      I was wondering if calalilly remembered entrees if it wasn't one of the sushi places further west, Sushi Solano or Sugata.

                                      1. re: wolfe

                                        My mistake. Just looked them up on yelp and google, not the same place I was thinking. Hmm, I thought that was the name of the restaurant but guess not. This explains a lot. Now I'm looking forward to the new place to open so I can experience what everyone is writing about!

                                  2. re: calalilly

                                    He's a gifted sensei, the sushi on its own is just good quality sushi, but the sushi along with his instruction and his blessing, so to speak, is something else entirely.

                                    -----
                                    Sushi Sho
                                    1645 Solano Ave, Berkeley, CA 94707

                  2. I am hoping for help again about whether the restaurant has now reopened- just waiting for the word before I drive across the bridge.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: laurapie29

                      Hasn't reopened last time I drove by about a week ago

                        1. re: Ridge

                          Doesn't look like any change as of a few days ago.

                          1. re: kc72

                            Ugh, my salivary glands went into overdrive when I read the title. Since moving back to the East Bay (Montclair) from San Mateo, I've been missing the easy access I'd had to upper echelon places like Sakae, Sushi Sam's & Yuzu. Uzen is good IMO but has a limited menu. Sushi Sho reopening would've had me rearranging my schedule so I could get there at least once a week.

                            I feel like the lady in the Mervyn's commercial from years ago......."open open open!!!"

                    2. Construction currently in progress (after delays for design/permits).
                      Still at the rough-in stage, so might still be a bit of time........

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: troutstalker

                        wow. year to the day from the original post and still in progress. damn those permits!

                      2. I've stopped by Sushi Sho's the new location at 10749 San Pablo next to Big O Tires in El Cerrito. I talked to Aki-san about his extensive remodeling effort and all the obstacles that the cities of Richmond and El Cerrito have put in the way of re-opening his business. The short answer is that he'll probably reopen for business by October 2011. The long answer would bring tears to your eyes. Regardless, the new restaurant will be gorgeous inside. Aki-san has done most of the carpentry himself with his usual pursuit of perfection.

                        Sushi Sho serves the best sushi I have ever eaten and I've had sushi at up-scale restaurants in Tokyo several times. I can't wait to be a regular there once again!

                        15 Replies
                        1. re: ckelley7

                          That is such wonderful news! My wife and i have been so missing Aki-san's artistry. The last time we checked the location a few months ago, it looked like nothing was happening and we both had pretty much given up hope of he and his wife's return.

                          1. re: ckelley7

                            Richmond AND El Cerrito? Do the city limits run through the restaurant?

                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                              What you don't have the parcel map for that area?

                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                Yes, the El Cerrito - Richmond City limits between Manila Ave. and Lincoln Ave. run along the west side of San Pablo Ave. The restaurants front door is probably in El Cerrito and the
                                main body of the building is in Richmond. This is about a mile from where I grew
                                up (on the Richmond side) - ;-)
                                http://www.el-cerrito.org/public_work...

                                1. re: Bigshadetree

                                  That's funny, the old place straddled the albany/berkeley border .
                                  Progress is being made, Aki hope's to open in about a month.

                                  1. re: troutstalker

                                    Omg, does anyone have any updates on this???? I'm back in the Bay for the week and would love to see Aki-san!

                                    1. re: heyitsjai

                                      wheel chair ramp is done and i can see they still working inside. drove by everyday.
                                      very soon be patient

                                        1. re: ThaDu

                                          Sounds like the place is going to be packed even more than it previously was since all of us have been anxiously waiting for it to reopen for years. :)

                                      1. re: troutstalker

                                        Any news? Does anyone know if they are open yet??

                                        1. re: apocalyptical

                                          I peeked in today. It smelled like paint and it looked like there's still basic construction going on. There weren't any signs or ornamental things visible.

                                          1. re: hyperbowler

                                            went by today and saw all plastic sheets were removed from the windows and replaced with Japanese screen.

                                            1. re: ThaDu

                                              There is a small round Sushi Sho sign out, looks like it is a lighted sign!!!!!!!!!
                                              I have a feeling that people will camp out for this. We have missed it so much

                                              1. re: Longing4SushiSho

                                                Ohhhhhhh yes!!

                                                To co-opt a former national retailer's advertising - - - OPEN OPEN OPEN!!!

                                    1. re: Longing4SushiSho

                                      I couldn't see the whole room. It's not very big. Looks like four or more seats at the counter and six seats total at two tables.

                                      More photos of Sushi Sho
                                      http://www.flickr.com/photos/melaniew...

                                      1. re: Melanie Wong

                                        It reopened Tuesday night, 22 May. I was there along with at least 20 other regulars. One guy got in line at 3pm for the 5:30 opening because it's first-come first-served at Sush Sho.

                                        Once inside, you'll find that the ambiance is even better than Aki-san's previous location. Everything inside the new Sushi Sho is perfect including the lighting. And a lot of the credit goes to the man himself. I visited while the restaurant was under construction and saw that Aki-san did most of the framing.

                                        Everybody got drunk and waited a long time for their food. We didn't care. One woman brought flowers. Everyone was friendly and open for conversation. It felt like a party at a private home. I actually made Michiko, Aki's hard-working wife and hostess, laugh. When Aki-san finally appeared, we all cheered!

                                        The fish was as tender and sweet as I remember it was 3 years ago. My son and I had a great time and a lot of laughs. I teased Aki-san about being "The Wasabe Nazi" and I even asked for a big lump in jest. He promptly put one on my plate! After I composed myself I asked him politely to take it back. His sous-chef explained that Aki-san had mellowed. But I knew better than to mess with perfection.

                                        Sushi Sho opens Tues-Sat at 5:30pm. The first wave starts to clear out at about 8pm.

                                        1. re: ckelley7

                                          Hurrah! So happy for you and the rest of the regulars who've waited so patiently. I can't claim to be one. Good timing on my part that I had an appointment in El Cerrito on Monday and remembered to drive by to see for myself.

                                           
                                          1. re: ckelley7

                                            We are looking forward to seeing Aki again, but I was hoping that maybe Michiko could could get an assistant or simply rule as hostess. She's earned it.

                                          1. We were big fans in Sushi Sho and were sad when they closed down the Solano restaurant a few years ago. Last night we finally made it to the new location in El Cerrito. The location is better for us since we live in Vallejo. Going to the new restaurant felt like going to the home of a dear friend or relative who you have not seen in a long time and have missed. The food and hospitality were spectacular as always. We are happy that Aki-san is back.

                                            4 Replies
                                            1. re: Ridge

                                              That's great to hear.

                                              I wasn't a regular at the old location, but I still remember it as one of the best Uni that I've enjoyed.

                                              Was there a line or is it under the radar, at the moment?

                                              1. re: drewskiSF

                                                Drove my Wednesday night and there was nobody standing outside/line. I don't believe there was a name/sign on the outside of the restaurant either.

                                                1. re: drewskiSF

                                                  On wed night we got there around 7:15. There were only two people there when we arrived. By 8:00 the place was comnpletely packed. Most people I think were regulars at the old place but the nice couple seated next to us were new and had come after reading about it on chowhound. Of course don't come here if you are in a rush but come when you can hang out for a while.

                                              2. For a chef's choice dinner, what's an evening here usually cost?

                                                1 Reply