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BEST OMAKASE FOR UNIQUE NIGIRI SUSHI IN SAN FRAN?

s
sdiddy Oct 31, 2010 05:58 PM

Hello my wife and I are heading to SF around thanksgiving and we want to get a taste of SF sushi. We live in LA so we have it good here, but want to go all out and do a great omakase. Interested in really fresh fish and unique fish (love sweet live shrimp, uni, engawa, etc). Not interested in rolls or fusion. Willing to pay up to 80 or so per person for omakase. any advice? thanks!

  1. d
    dvhinsfba Apr 27, 2011 07:28 PM

    I'm a huge fan of Omakase. I always called it "feed me" but I admit "Omakase" does roll off the tongue nicely while helping to fuel romantic gastronomic fantasies. For old school Omakase that will rock your world go to Fuji sushi at 301 West Portal in SF. I used to live nearby and went here ALL THE TIME. This is where are the local Japanese population of Cheers-esqe regulars congregates to "get fed"... well. I've had had things like fried fish fins (think funky potato chips) delicious is an understatement. And balls of Unagi wrapped in avocado. I've asked other chefs to recreate this one but much as they tried they couldn't match what I had here. I was befriended by the aforementioned regulars crew by always gawking at the really bizarre, albeit yummy looking, morsels being served to my fellow regulars and then being offered that same morsel by the chefs. I love those guys. You can go to more fancier places but this place is truly the real deal. And I do like to bling it out, but my absolute must is quality. Go to Fuji and tell them to just "feed me".

    1. p
      pauliface Nov 1, 2010 05:20 PM

      Food-wise, I'd recommend Ino in SF, or Yume in Alameda. Zushi Puzzle, also very good, but for me ranks third.

      However, Ino is a very quiet dour place. whereas the guy at Zushi Puzzle is really fun.

      -----
      Zushi Puzzle
      1910 Lombard St, San Francisco, CA 94123

      Ino Restaurant
      25 Miller Ave, Mill Valley, CA 94941

      1. K K Oct 31, 2010 10:48 PM

        A few comments

        Wakuriya is a kaiseki restaurant, and perhaps the best one. They don't do nigiri sushi.

        SF isn't as haughty taughty as LA in terms of what comprises "omakase", but if you specifically request "nigiri omakase" there is no room for error in what you want the chef to serve you. But LA does have way better Japanese and even raw fish varieties overall.

        Sakae Sushi since moving to their new location for good, has somewhat higher prices than before. While I didn't sit at the bar the other night, the quality dipped a little bit. The yen is also very strong against the dollar, so variety wasn't as wide as usual as to what the place can import within reasonable cost, but whatever they had was pretty good. But this place is definitely not cheap, and I don't think you can walk out full with $80, as each white board special fish was easily $9 a pair, going upwards of $13 for wild white king salmon. I can only imagine the Japanese beef nigiri is $30 as is any toro they have. Sebo in SF is probably just as high, if not higher, and even smaller nigiri.

        On the downside, some sushi places close for Thanksgiving, so if you are planning to be here to hit up some of the best, I'd say schedule a flight to come here early.

        If sushi rice receipe is important to you, and you prefer a more vinegary presence, the rice at Ino Sushi in San Francisco Japantown is superb. Variety wise, this was what they had in December 09 via single piece nigiri omakase, to give you an idea

        kanpachi
        hamachi
        suzuki
        tai (madai)
        madai no konbu jime (kelp marinated)
        maguro
        maguro zuke (soy sauce marinated tuna)
        marinated scallop (simmered/cooked in soy sauce, includes the "ribbon")
        marinated sea snail (whelk or perwinkle like)
        kazunoko (might be too early if November, it's a new year's food item/herring roe)
        uni (will be fantastic this time of year, from Santa Barbara)
        ikura (Ino's soy sauce marinated ikura is supreme)
        mirugai (geoduck)
        torigai
        ika
        geso (squid legs)
        ebi (normally I do not order the cooked shrimp, but Ino preps his own)
        tako (I usually do not get cooked octopus, but the receipe is probably the best in town)
        anago and unagi are excellent, just to get that in house made brushed sauce, simply divine
        hirame
        hirame no engawa
        saba
        kohada
        ankimo (the best I've had, better than Sebo's and Sushi Zo's)

        Although Ino has been known to stock some surprises at times.

        Other places with perhaps 30 kinds of varieties of fish to choose from, Kitsho in Cupertino (usually unlocked also with omakase, definitely within the $80 range or more), Sushi Sam's in San Mateo. Unfortunately both are outside of SF.

        Then there's Sushi Ran in Sausalito (also very expensive) and maybe Morimoto in Napa, much further north.

        -----
        Sebo
        517 Hayes St, San Francisco, CA 94102

        Sushi Sam's
        218 E 3rd Ave, San Mateo, CA 94401

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

        Kitsho
        19541 Richwood Dr, Cupertino, CA 95014

        Sushi Ran
        107 Caledonia St., Sausalito, CA 94965

        Wakuriya
        115 De Anza Blvd, San Mateo, CA

        Morimoto
        610 Main Street, Napa, CA

        6 Replies
        1. re: K K
          k
          klaw Nov 1, 2010 03:35 PM

          Yea, you're not going to get a Sushi Zo or Mori in Northern CA. Sakae, Sushi Ran and Morimoto are fine but can't touch the fish quality of those places. I've just come to accept it.

          -----
          Sushi Ran
          107 Caledonia St., Sausalito, CA 94965

          Morimoto
          610 Main Street, Napa, CA

          1. re: klaw
            K K Nov 1, 2010 04:54 PM

            The interesting thing is that as great Zo is, the atmosphere and ambience (namely the stone coldness of the chef) is rather off putting, and I'd rather go to Ino Sushi who while is also gruff and generally non talkative, at least does sushi rice at least IMO better than Zo (and yet Ino still makes simple california rolls spicy tuna rolls, but none of those multi combination ingredients stupid name specials) and if you are lucky, you might even be able to get the guy to smile briefly.

            In the interest of those in pursuit of "exotic" fish, it is said that Zushi Puzzle in the Marina, while not perhaps an uber traditionalist kind of place like Ino, does supposedly carry the oddball Japanese or foreign import at times, like the wacky looking pencil-fish, flying fish, and even the ugly looking Hakkagu per Yelp photos (an octagonal fish native to the waters around Hokkaido) which only in the last few years was imported seasonally to Taipei's high end kappo/sushi bars to be served as sashimi and sushi. Perhaps not all offered all at once, but if fish is more important than rice, there's potentially one other option.

            -----
            Zushi Puzzle
            1910 Lombard St, San Francisco, CA 94123

            1. re: K K
              n
              nocharge Nov 2, 2010 01:21 AM

              I've had numerous great meals at Zushi Puzzle interacting with chef Roger and tasting all kinds of exotic fish just flown in from Japan. My advice, if you are going to go there, is to call them well in advance and get a reservation for the counter. (They are not on OpenTable.) They have a dining room as well, but the ambience is mediocre and while the food is still great, you would miss out on all the fun.

              1. re: nocharge
                p
                pauliface Nov 2, 2010 09:34 AM

                absolutely. counter only!

              2. re: K K
                vincentlo Nov 3, 2010 01:38 AM

                Well when I think of the best sushi in the Bay Area, it's always Sakae, Sebo, and Ino, in no particular order. Ino can be a bit "stern" for some, especially if you didn't grow up eating in traditional sushi houses with strict sushi chefs. Sebo is on the other end, when everyone looks like they are family members of the chefs, and dinners can last a long time, great if you're into drinking sake slowly and chatting with the chefs and other loyal customers. I absolute love the atmosphere of Sebo (and its food and no-corkage policy from True Sake but not their prices), but some of my friends think service is too slow with all the banter.

                I went to Zushi Puzzle at a friend's recommendation, and ordered a sashimi platter for $40-50 I think. You can imagine my disappointment when I only got the typical tuna, sashimi, and hamachi I think. I talked to Roger at the end, coveting all the beautiful sashimi pictured inside the restaurant, and he said next time I needed to mention "wild" (at least I think that was the word he said) when I ordered sashimi so that he could give me proper treatment. So remember this when you first visit Zushi Puzzle! Service there needs some work though.

                -----
                Sebo
                517 Hayes St, San Francisco, CA 94102

                True Sake
                560 Hayes St, San Francisco, CA 94102

                Zushi Puzzle
                1910 Lombard St, San Francisco, CA 94123

                1. re: K K
                  k
                  klaw Nov 4, 2010 02:43 PM

                  I've come to love Kiezo, when you're there for lunch in an empty place, he's actually a pretty funny guy.

            2. d
              dbrosin Oct 31, 2010 07:06 PM

              I'd put Wakuriya in San Mateo up against anyone. It's in a very unassuming spot in a shopping center with a Safeway, but it's quite remarkable!

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              Wakuriya
              115 De Anza Blvd, San Mateo, CA

              1. Sushi Monster Oct 31, 2010 06:19 PM

                If you're bringing LA-scale expectations up here, you might be better off saving your money and going to Sushi Zo back home. If you really want a great experience near San Francisco, there is Sakae in Burlingame. Good luck!

                Sushi Monster

                1 Reply
                1. re: Sushi Monster
                  Pei Apr 27, 2011 09:59 PM

                  ditto

                2. chefj Oct 31, 2010 06:13 PM

                  Oh yeah, You may have to surpass your 80pp to go to the "best"

                  1. chefj Oct 31, 2010 06:12 PM

                    You know that Omakase tasting rarely consists of all sashimi or sushi.
                    Here is thread that is already started
                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6836...

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