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Sebo Lately?

My wife and I are visiting San Francisco and then Napa in a few weeks to celebrate our anniversary. It is my first trip to the Bay area. We both love sushi and saw Anthony Bourdain's visit to Sebo on No Reservations.

I have been reading some less than positive reviews online for Sebo lately. Most of the negative reviews complain about the price and not being full. I am not sure if the influx of these reviews is just a result of Sebo's recent popularity or if they have gone downhill. Can anybody who has been there recently comment on the current quality of the sushi?

To provide a little backround, I prefer nigiri and sashimi to rolls and we love trying new things. I have never been to Japan but the best sushi dinner I have ever had was at Oya in Boston. We also have done the omakase at Nobu in Vegas which was pretty good. We usually have sushi once a week so I am not sure if that qualifies us as true sushi nuts.

We are looking for a fun sushi bar to have dinner and try some new things. The sort of place we can sit at the sushi bar and keep eating till we pop. We are willing to consider an omakase as long as it is not mostly cooked dishes. If anybody has a suggestion of another sushi bar to go to please feel free to chime in.

Thanks in advance for the advice!

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Sebo
517 Hayes St, San Francisco, CA 94102

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  1. Why not save your Sushi-fix until you get to Napa and go to Morimoto which recently opened.

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    Morimoto
    610 Main Street, Napa, CA

    1 Reply
    1. re: Scott M

      Went to Morimoto last Wed., 9/22 for an early dinner. Sushi was ok (shared a $75 combo) -- guess we've been "spoiled" by the good offerings we used to get at Sushi Sho (still hasn't reopened). The stand-out dishes for me were the sea urchin carbonara (udon noodles) and foie gras chawan mushi.

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      Sushi Sho
      1645 Solano Ave, Berkeley, CA 94707

      Morimoto
      610 Main Street, Napa, CA

    2. Sebo has always been expensive with mixed reports. It's much less expensive than Oya though.

      Service is what it is there. It's worth it if you can sit at the bar, which you can't reserve. They have extremely fresh fish that is hard to find most other places.

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      Sebo
      517 Hayes St, San Francisco, CA 94102

      8 Replies
      1. re: Windy

        Thanks Scott and Windy:
        I was not aware of the new Morimoto. Perhaps we will hit both and report back.

        Oya was pricey but worth every penny.

        How late can we arrive and not be frowned upon at Sebo? We will probably be hitting them up on a Wednesday night. I was thinking of getting there around 8:30 or 9. I know we can't reserve a spot at the bar but we will make reservations.

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        Sebo
        517 Hayes St, San Francisco, CA 94102

        Morimoto
        610 Main Street, Napa, CA

        1. re: JohnnyRoaster

          Honestly it's only worth going if you sit at the bar. And the atmosphere is serious rather than fun. But it can be great fish. Call as you're heading over and ask them if it's too late.

          We had an aged sake at Oya that was unlike anything I've ever tried.

          1. re: Windy

            The house aged Wagu at Oya is what put me over the edge. It simply melted in my mouth.

            If you make to the East coast often, you should check out Miyake in Portland Maine. It is almost as good as Oya at a fraction of the price.

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            Miyake Restaurant
            10650 S De Anza Blvd, Cupertino, CA 95014

            1. re: JohnnyRoaster

              Maybe I need to plan a trip to Portland ME...Let us know where you end up.

        2. re: Windy

          Based on the reminder, I went by this week. It was the first time I'd been since Danny left, and all the faces behind the bar were new. The servers were new too, and friendly!

          Prices have gone up. The nigiri is now single pieces ($3-6 for most), so it's easier to sample more kinds of fish. Highlights were Hokkaido uni ($9 for a single nigiri), tiny white shrimp, bonito, and madai. The ikura (salmon roe) is great too.

          Arrivng as they open close to 6 is still the best way to get a seat at the bar. Sakes are as good as ever.

          1. re: Windy

            When I posted my downhill report last September, prices had already gone up, though not that much. The website still lists the old prices, with Santa Barbara uni at $9 for a pair.

            Yes, the [few remaining] sakes are still good, but the list used to have at least a dozen, and it was down to 3 or 4 on my last visit.

            The web site also still has pictures of Danny and the younger guy they trained.

            Is it really safe to recommend this place right now with so much turnover?

            1. re: SteveG

              I don't think "so much turnover" is accurate, nor did I post a downhill report.

              Danny left the business. Michael is still the owner. The fish is from the same top-end suppliers.

              And the Santa Barbara uni is still $9 a pair. (I didn't try it because they had uni from Maine and Hokkaido.)

              1. re: Windy

                This sounds like lots of turnover: "all the faces behind the bar were new. The servers were new too."

                Tablehopper says, "Black has started working with some new seafood distributors, and has not only found a source for fresh Hokkaido uni, but is now offering a wider range of fish."

                Is the fish the best in town? Where else have you eaten sushi recently that Sebo beat?

                I'm not sure what's up with the PR effort on the "new" Hokkaido Uni that I see all over Tablehopper and the other blogs. I know for sure I've had Hokkaido scallops there, and that I've done side by side Uni tastings of Santa Barbara and Uni from somewhere in Japan at Sebo--but this was several years ago. I found a 2007 yelp review that mentioned Hokkaido Uni. The only way what they are saying would make sense is if they went with a less-good distributor last year when I had my disappointing meal and they're returning to their prior standards.

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                Sebo
                517 Hayes St, San Francisco, CA 94102

        3. How early should 2 people arrive on a Saturday in order to be guaranteed counter seats at the 6pm seating?

          1 Reply
          1. re: Morton the Mousse

            In theory 5:59 should be fine, since they won't reserve the counter. Except that sometimes they do. Call and see what they say.

            Or plan on going for a couple of rounds of drinks if someone beat you to it.

          2. I've been going fairly regularly for the last two plus years and would recommend Sebo without hesitation. It has gotten better with the new distributor - they now have a regular source of bluefin and have toro most nights. Hokkaido uni is also a treat - smaller and sweeter than California, with a bit less of a briny sea flavor. Also, I don't believe that one partner's leaving has had any negative impact on the quality of ingredients or preparation. As mentioned, Sebo is quite expensive relative to other sushi places (budget a minimum of $100 per person food cost only) but I have yet to find anything comparable in SF, and not for lack of trying.

            Again, it only makes sense to sit at the bar (six total seats) and order omakase - feel free to tell them you want mostly raw dishes and they will happily oblige. You can't make reservations so to guarantee a seat, show up at 6 right when they open. The bar usually fills up immediately and turnover is slow.

            Please let us know how it is if you do decide to go!

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            Sebo
            517 Hayes St, San Francisco, CA 94102

            1. DON'T READ YELP!! STAY FAR AWAY!!! Sebo is still as great as ever. It's not for people who want your average fish and cheesy rolls, it's for die hard sushi/fish fans that aren't afraid of food and trying new things. Sebo is about QUALITY not Quantity. There is a reason why all respected chefs go there.

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              Sebo
              517 Hayes St, San Francisco, CA 94102