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great sushi in the Bay area?

l
lvolleyer Mar 26, 2011 12:19 AM

Just moved from NY to Bay area. For the last 1 year, been looking for a decent sushi bar without much success. Actually, we did find one decent place. Yume in Alameda. Overall very good but kinda stuffy atmosphere and they don't take reservation. The server, the wife of the sushi chef, is close to being sushi Nazi. Such a painful experience having to wait if you don't get in on the first round.

Been to Hatsuhana, Shimizu, Yasuda, Kuruma, Sasabune, and Jewel Bako in NY and they have really spoiled my taste buds. Considering huge population of Japanese ancestry in the Bay area, it's shocking none of the restaurants come even close of any of the ones mentioned above.

Tried Kitsho, Tomisushi, sushi ran, and Yuzu multiple times to be sure. They are all just average. Certainly edible but not enough to go out of my way to eat there. The fish never tasted special.

Next on my list

Joy's sushi in San Mateo
Sushi Kiss

Any other recommendations?

  1. b
    bja70 Aug 5, 2011 01:41 PM

    Been to a lot of sushi restaurants in the bay area but the only ones I keep going back to are
    Hamako in cole valley (very fresh fish...pretty much that's all though)
    Kabuto in the richmond area (very tasty, special nigiri items...a bit non-traditional but good)
    Hana in rohnert park (maybe my favorite all around place)

    3 Replies
    1. re: bja70
      t
      TonyVelebil Aug 5, 2011 02:15 PM

      Hana Japanese in Rohnert Park is my favorite in the region by far. Otherwise, i go back home to So Cal for really good Sushi.

      -----
      Hana Japanese Restaurant
      101 Golf Course Drive, Rohnert Park, CA 94928

      1. re: TonyVelebil
        j
        jman1 Aug 5, 2011 10:35 PM

        Wow. I've never been to Rohnert Park, but I that there a number of Japanese restaurants there. Am I being fooled, or is it a lot for a smaller city? Something to do with golf?

        1. re: jman1
          b
          bja70 Aug 7, 2011 10:09 PM

          Not sure about any other good Japanese places in Rohnert Park but Hana is definitely worth checking out. The owner Ken also owns part of Go Fish, a sushi place in Napa.
          Hana has really fresh fish and a pretty good sake selection and their omakase always has tasty dishes as well.

    2. Ashley12 Apr 4, 2011 04:32 PM

      Kirala in Berkeley. Simple and fresh...great every time. Normally have a few interesting varieties of fish that are exciting to try.

      -----
      Kirala Restaurant
      2100 Ward St, Berkeley, CA 94705

      15 Replies
      1. re: Ashley12
        p
        pauliface Apr 4, 2011 06:41 PM

        The wait is always so long that I never go anymore. I work nearby, and if I could reserve a table, I'd go at least once a month. As it is, I have not been in several years.

        1. re: pauliface
          Robert Lauriston Apr 4, 2011 06:43 PM

          It's not hard to get in at lunch. Sometimes there's no wait later in the evening, otherwise I'd never go, either.

          1. re: pauliface
            escargot3 Apr 6, 2011 09:47 AM

            The last few times I've been, there wasn't a long wait. Perhaps a sign of the times. Perhaps just luck.

            It's one of my fave places -- especially their lunch special. Hey Robert, perhaps we've bumped elbows at the counter! Uzen also is a great resto for the neighb

            1. re: escargot3
              Robert Lauriston Apr 6, 2011 09:52 AM

              I've never sat at the counter at Kirala. I mostly order robata.

              Uzen's great. Serious traditional sushi.

              -----
              Uzen Japanese Cuisine
              5415 College Ave, Oakland, CA 94618

              Kirala Restaurant
              2100 Ward St, Berkeley, CA 94705

              1. re: Robert Lauriston
                Eugene Park Apr 6, 2011 01:32 PM

                Like Uzen a lot. Wish their selection was a little deeper.

                1. re: Eugene Park
                  l
                  lvolleyer Apr 6, 2011 06:50 PM

                  OK. the new list.

                  Sakae
                  Ino Sushi
                  Uzen
                  maybe Kirala

                  1. re: lvolleyer
                    r
                    Ridge Apr 6, 2011 10:13 PM

                    And if you are in the north bay give Tsukiji Bar & Sushi Restaurant in Mill Valley a try. I think it's an underappreciated gem.

                    Haven't been to Kirala in a long time. My impression of it was that it was good but over rated.

                    Haven’t been to Ino in a while but my experiences there have always been excellent.

                    If this were a few years ago the obvious answer would be Sushi Sho in Albany. It was amazing sushi (was my favorite in the bay area) and always an interesting experience. The Chef is supposedly opening up a new place on San Pablo in El Cerrito.

                    I've never been to Uzen but will give it a try. How long is the wait there on Friday night?

                    -----
                    Kirala Restaurant
                    2100 Ward St, Berkeley, CA 94705

                    Ino Restaurant
                    25 Miller Ave, Mill Valley, CA 94941

                    1. re: Ridge
                      Robert Lauriston Apr 7, 2011 10:01 AM

                      Uzen takes reservations.

                      Kirala's good, but not so exceptional that I'd wait in line. The main draw for me was the robata, which Ippuku does better. (No sushi at Ippuku.)

                      -----
                      Kirala Restaurant
                      2100 Ward St, Berkeley, CA 94705

                      Ippuku
                      2130 Center St, Berkeley, CA 94704

                      1. re: Ridge
                        d
                        Dan Wodarcyk Apr 7, 2011 11:18 PM

                        Really enjoyed Sushi Sho and was only able to go once. I'd compare the experience similar to Ino Sushi, including the gruff chef, but both excellent.

                        All said, I've had much greater experiences with quality, variety, and cut in LA and New York, including Sushi Zo (LA, my newest favorite) and Sushi Yasuda (NY.)

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

                      2. re: lvolleyer
                        K K Apr 7, 2011 09:56 AM

                        I haven't been to Kirala in a long time, but their strengths are more in the cooked dishes (robata grill). The nigiri sushi in memory is good but not mindblowing, and plus if you are into the exotic stuff, Kirala doesn't have it.
                        The whole package is interesting otherwise if you combine robata grill items with sushi.

                        Given that you've been to Kitsho, which even you said did not blow you away (of which their seasonal white fish selection can be interesting), then Uzen and Kirala, which don't even have the breadth of Kitsho's selection, will disappoint you. Kitsho's small cooked dishes and home made tofu, natto, miso are quite good.

                        Tsukiji Bar & Sushi Restaurant in Mill Valley....the chef as I understand it used to work at Sushi Ran....and if Sushi Ran didn't impress you, I doubt TB&S will.

                        Sakae, Ino Sushi, Jin Sho (Palo Alto) - sit only at the counter and interact with either chef owner and describe what you like and also your NY standards (since the chefs did work in NY before and I'm sure know at least a bit about the scene) and let them entertain you...., and maybe Sushi Sam's.

                        But I have to admit...after looking at a Chinese blogger's 2009 writeup of 15 East in NY, even Sakae and Ino won't come anywhere close... but for SF Bay Area standards they are as tip top as you can get.

                        -----
                        Jin Sho
                        454 California Ave, Palo Alto, CA

                        Sakae
                        243 California Drive, Burlingame, CA 94010

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

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

                        1. re: K K
                          bbulkow Apr 7, 2011 05:40 PM

                          Another note. I think we tend to a get a bit inbred on our recommendations. The MV sushi places - Tomi and Yakko - are more than acceptable for day-to-day sushi. Some days I think Tomi is above what I often get at Sam's. And, tomorrow, my dad wanted to eat one sushi while he was out, and we're going to Naomi in MP. I like the width of their non-sushi menu, and the sushi on a friday is usually very good. The itame has a yen for things like Saba and the darker, more oily fishes, which my dad also likes.

                          1. re: K K
                            r
                            Ridge Apr 8, 2011 08:02 AM

                            Sushi Ran is good. I would certainly not call it “just average”, although I have not been there since last spring. Some of their appetizers can be very interesting and I have had some excellent sushi there. I remember eating some amazing deepwater Uni from Japan there and the specials menu often has great sushi. But it is very expensive and has a somewhat dated feel to it.

                            Tsukiji Bar & Sushi Restaurant is simpler and much less expensive Than Sushi Ran. The emphasis is more on the sushi. And the sushi specials menu is excellent.

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

                        2. re: Eugene Park
                          drewskiSF Apr 8, 2011 10:41 AM

                          I like Uzen as well though sometimes they've been heavy handed with the wasabi between the fish & rice.

                          I've also enjoyed Rikyu down the street.

                          1. re: drewskiSF
                            r
                            Ridge Apr 24, 2011 09:18 AM

                            Friday night we went to Uzen. It was excellent. We sat at the sushi bar and ordered:

                            Scallops- Usually I find scallop sushi good but overly lacking in flavor. For me the best scallop sushi has freshness with a hint of deep umami flavor. The gold standard for scallop sushi for me was scallop sushi I ate last summer in a casual Japanese bar food place in Inuyama Japan. The scallop sushi at Uzen came close. We enjoyed it so much we had two orders.

                            Aji, wild salmon, anago, albacore, uni, ama ebi, chu toro: All were excellent

                            1. re: Ridge
                              l
                              love food May 6, 2011 08:41 PM

                              Sushi Kazu
                              841 Irving Street, San Francisco, CA 94122-2310
                              (415) 681-5539 ‎

                              -----
                              Sushi Kazu
                              841 Irving St, San Francisco, CA 94122

                2. z
                  zin1953 Mar 29, 2011 07:50 PM

                  Zushi Puzzle, 1910 Lombard, SF -- http://www.zushipuzzle.com/ -- but be sure to sit AT the sushi bar!

                  Yoshi's, 1330 Fillmore, SF or 510 Embarcadero West (Jack London Square) Oakland -- http://www.yoshis.com/

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

                  9 Replies
                  1. re: zin1953
                    Robert Lauriston Apr 4, 2011 01:55 PM

                    I was not terribly impressed with the sushi or anything else at the SF Yoshi's. Most of the dishes were fine but nothing was great.

                    1. re: Robert Lauriston
                      z
                      zin1953 Apr 4, 2011 03:54 PM

                      Yes, well -- since you and I agree about so little, Robert (including your own efforts) -- why am I not surprised?

                      1. re: zin1953
                        Robert Lauriston Apr 4, 2011 04:17 PM

                        Do they have a sushi bar and did you sit there? That can be a totally different experience.

                        I don't think any experienced sushi lover would have been terribly impressed with what we had. I thought it was fine. My friend who worked in a sushi bar didn't.

                    2. re: zin1953
                      Eugene Park Apr 6, 2011 12:39 AM

                      The last time Yoshi's was considered anything close to really good sushi was in their original location on Claremont near College IMO. Once they moved to Jack London Square, quality went down noticeably.

                      -----
                      Jack London Square
                      70 Washington St # 207, Oakland, CA

                      1. re: Eugene Park
                        z
                        zin1953 Apr 6, 2011 06:14 AM

                        Yoshi's on Claremont -- or their initial offering at JL -- was NEVER a good restaurant, IMO. It was a great jazz club with a restaurant attached. Now -- again, IMO -- it's a great restaurant with a great jazz club attached . . . .

                        Different strokes.

                        1. re: zin1953
                          escargot3 Apr 6, 2011 09:50 AM

                          Beware when using the word NEVER: before it was a jazz joint, Yoshi's was simply a shoebox-sized great little restaurant. It then started to expand and expand and expand.

                        2. re: Eugene Park
                          Robert Lauriston Apr 6, 2011 08:42 AM

                          A few years ago Yoshi's got a new chef, Sho Kamio. The food definitely improved.

                          1. re: Robert Lauriston
                            Eugene Park Apr 6, 2011 09:18 AM

                            Haven't been, though I've heard from folks who have that the sushi still isn't anywhere in the league of Sakae, Sushi Sam's or Sawa (three restos I have been to repeatedly and recently that are completely unlike each other in terms of style).

                            -----
                            Sakae
                            243 California Drive, Burlingame, CA 94010

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

                            1. re: Eugene Park
                              bbulkow Apr 7, 2011 05:34 PM

                              It's a notch down, in my opinion, but it's more than decent. I remember a week when they had bluefin specials, that they had actually brought a fish over from japan. And some days, the uni is pretty good. Really, though, I'm happy with the burger when I'm eating in the jazz room. And I miss when they had okonomiaki.

                      2. h
                        hannah Mar 29, 2011 06:09 PM

                        Another vote for Sakae. Amazing meal there on Friday. I had the omakase and it was very much worth the price. Large cuts of fish and SO fresh.

                        -----
                        Sakae
                        243 California Drive, Burlingame, CA 94010

                        1. i
                          indigirl Mar 28, 2011 07:42 PM

                          How about in Berkeley/Oakland, where do the hounds recommend we go in the east bay?

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: indigirl
                            m
                            Mr_Happy Mar 28, 2011 08:49 PM

                            I like Uzen in Oakland

                            -----
                            Uzen Japanese Cuisine
                            5415 College Ave, Oakland, CA 94618

                            1. re: indigirl
                              l
                              lvolleyer Mar 29, 2011 02:43 AM

                              Yume in Alameda. Not sure if any other in Oakland/Berkeley comes close. Might as well buy some fresh fish from Tokyo fish market and make sashimi by yourself.

                              1. re: indigirl
                                Robert Lauriston Mar 29, 2011 09:09 AM

                                Second on Uzen, very traditional and good.

                                1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                  b
                                  Bunson Mar 29, 2011 03:02 PM

                                  Try Sushi Masa in south San Jose but only if you sit at the bar and Chef Masa is working. He's getting up there in age and is delegating more to other chefs so he may not be behind the sushi bar all the time, but read Ken K's review on Yelp dated 8/17/2007. The table service can be a spotty especially if they're busy but if you can catch Chef Masa behind the sushi bar and ask for the omakase you should be happy with the results.

                                  -----
                                  Sushi Masa
                                  5363 Camden Ave, San Jose, CA 95124

                              2. Melanie Wong Mar 26, 2011 10:02 AM

                                Also bear in mind that supply lines from Japan have been disrupted. Quality and variety may be less than normal for the time being.

                                9 Replies
                                1. re: Melanie Wong
                                  l
                                  lrealml Mar 26, 2011 01:44 PM

                                  Does anyone have any observations about this? I have been really craving sushi lately, but I am not sure that I will be able to find the quality I am used to right now. ( and I do realize that any concern about the impact to the sushi supply is completely inane compared to the horror of the tragedy, but I am curious none the less)

                                  1. re: lrealml
                                    Windy Mar 26, 2011 02:25 PM

                                    There are many other sources for fish than Japan. Have an open mind, and discover something new.

                                    1. re: Windy
                                      d
                                      Dan Wodarcyk Mar 26, 2011 10:59 PM

                                      I agree with Eugene that Sushi Monster has put together such a great list, albeit just peninsula, which includes the best, Sakae. In order of preference and having been to each in the past 2 months:

                                      1. Sakae, although the size he was cutting to that day was uncommonly large, quality always exceptional
                                      2. Hana, Rohnert Park, better and better each time I go, and a new sake sommelier who takes the experience to another level
                                      3. Ino Sushi, in Japantown, not Mill Valley
                                      4. Morimoto Napa, although the floor service has gotten worse on every visit. Sit at the sushi bar and deal with their pros

                                      -----
                                      Sakae
                                      243 California Drive, Burlingame, CA 94010

                                      Sushi Monster
                                      955 Ralston Ave, Belmont, CA

                                      Ino Restaurant
                                      25 Miller Ave, Mill Valley, CA 94941

                                      Morimoto
                                      610 Main Street, Napa, CA

                                      1. re: Windy
                                        l
                                        lrealml Mar 26, 2011 11:01 PM

                                        Sure, any specific suggestions?
                                        When it comes to food, my mind could not be more open...

                                        1. re: lrealml
                                          Windy Mar 27, 2011 01:29 AM

                                          You'll find them on the blackboard anywhere that serves good sushi. For example Sushi AKA Tombo is serving blue prawns from New Caledonia. (We had to look up New Caledonia to see where it is.)

                                          Sebo occasionally sources tuna from Croatia. Tataki (not my favorite otherwise) is serving delicious arctic char in place of salmon.

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

                                          Sushi Aka Tombo
                                          1737 Buchanan St, San Francisco, CA 94115

                                          1. re: Windy
                                            l
                                            lrealml Mar 27, 2011 01:52 AM

                                            Thanks!
                                            I will satisfy my craving one way or another.

                                            1. re: Windy
                                              b
                                              bigwheel042 Mar 27, 2011 03:16 AM

                                              A quick update on Sushi Aka Tombo. I would recommend going on a weeknight, if possible, and sitting at the bar. I went Friday night for the first time and it was nearly packed, and the servers were clearly overwhelmed with the tables. I'm pretty patient if the food is good, but my companions were really not happy with the multiple mistaken orders and the erratic way they came out of the bar and kitchen (to the point where they swore they'd never go back).

                                              -----
                                              Sushi Aka Tombo
                                              1737 Buchanan St, San Francisco, CA 94115

                                              1. re: bigwheel042
                                                Windy Mar 27, 2011 09:22 AM

                                                Yes, going on a weeknight and sitting at the bar are important for any sushi experience, especially a place where you haven't been before.

                                                It's not worth going to Sebo if you can't sit at the bar.

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

                                                1. re: Windy
                                                  r
                                                  Ridge Mar 27, 2011 09:36 AM

                                                  One of my favorites is Tsukiji Bar & Sushi Restaurant in Mill Valley. We went last night. I highly recommend it. I don’t understand why this place isn’t more popular than it is. The sushi is impeccable, fresh and varied and the service could not be more welcoming and nice.
                                                  http://tsukijisushimv.com/

                                    2. Eugene Park Mar 26, 2011 08:42 AM

                                      The esteemed poster "Sushi Monster" has done some extensive research on this subject. Definitely worth a read or three:

                                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/45649

                                      1. s
                                        shanghaikid Mar 26, 2011 04:49 AM

                                        geta in the piedmont district of oaktown has cheap sushi and rolls. unfortunately, only seating for 6? at the sushi bar and 4ish tables.

                                        it's not new york city but pretty damn good! japanese owned.

                                        1. K K Mar 26, 2011 04:34 AM

                                          NY is impossible to top, your standards have spoiled you. Your next best thing after that is to drive to Southern California for generally superior Japanese to SF....

                                          But do try:

                                          Ino Sushi (San Francisco)

                                          Sebo (San Francisco)

                                          Jin Sho (Palo Alto) - chef owners are former Nobu NY alum, but they are also very strong with traditional nigiri (just sit at the bar and tell them what you like)

                                          Sakae in Burlingame, Older sister restaurant to Yuzu but has a much fuller lineup. Yuzu is better at cooked dishes than sushi, and has more of a drinking and pub + cooked eats feel.

                                          Reservations strongly recommended. Not sure if Sebo takes reservations these days, but get there a bit before opening for sure.

                                          Kiss Seafood is not a sushi bar...it is like a multi course fixed meal with a nigiri course (limited fish selection, but good). Kaygetsu is a kaiseki restaurant with a 6 to 7 seater sushi bar with a very small selection (and small sushi bar) that charges Sakae and Sushi Ran prices, and is only good if they get in seasonal fish (call ahead before you go). Sushi Sam's is a fun neighborhood and very popular place...maybe 25 to 30 kinds of special fish on a good day, but they tend to over garnish their nigiri in order to be creative/innovative, but still worth checking out.

                                          And there's Morimoto in Napa (and perhaps Hana in Rohnert Park) but I have no gauge on how the traditional sushi fares up there.

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

                                          Kaygetsu Restaurant
                                          325 Sharon Park Dr Ste A2, Menlo Park, CA 94025

                                          Jin Sho
                                          454 California Ave, Palo Alto, CA

                                          Sakae
                                          243 California Drive, Burlingame, CA 94010

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

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

                                          Yuzu
                                          3347 Fillmore Street, San Francisco, CA 94123

                                          Morimoto
                                          610 Main Street, Napa, CA

                                          12 Replies
                                          1. re: K K
                                            bbulkow Mar 26, 2011 10:31 AM

                                            Good list. Worth mentioning: Sushi sam's strength is the whiteboard, where they have fish seen rarely elsewhere anywhere in the bay area. Although I love the place, I agree with KK that it doesn't fit the OP's profile.

                                            As to why the bay area doesn't have better sushi - it's about money. There's more money and greater flow of supply and demand in New York. Realistically, all the fish has to get on an airplane, so geography is not an issue, only money. The fish at Le Bernardin has no equal in the bay area, for example.

                                            1. re: bbulkow
                                              l
                                              lvolleyer Mar 27, 2011 01:35 AM

                                              I agree with bbulkow. I had awesome raw fish at Le Bernardin. I believe one of their course is called "raw". Not so different from typical sashimi.

                                              I think my next will be:

                                              Sakae
                                              Sushi Sam's
                                              Sebo
                                              Ino

                                              Thank you all for your contribution. I appreciate that many are able to point out that I much prefer traditional nigiri over the nouveau sushi adorned with lots of unnecessary adornment. I will post more later on when I do hit my favorite go to sushi place here.

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

                                              Sakae
                                              243 California Drive, Burlingame, CA 94010

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

                                              Ino Restaurant
                                              25 Miller Ave, Mill Valley, CA 94941

                                              1. re: lvolleyer
                                                bbulkow Mar 27, 2011 11:07 AM

                                                Kaygetsu should be on your next short list, even though it's a far drive. You have to find out when they're doing sushi, but when they do they have a very short list and it is very traditional. I think they do every night, but lunch seems more iffy. It is primarily kaseki as KK says, but the one time I had sushi there was peak.

                                                -----
                                                Kaygetsu Restaurant
                                                325 Sharon Park Dr Ste A2, Menlo Park, CA 94025

                                                1. re: bbulkow
                                                  K K Apr 4, 2011 01:20 PM

                                                  I'm not sure how long ago you had nigiri at Kaygetsu, but my first two times were 2006 and 2007 and 2006 was way better than 2007. Since then, Toshi-san was working lunch sushi and dinner every day in addition to preparing sashimi courses for kaiseki dinners (as well as making California rolls for the casual lunch crowd) that quality even of a la carte nigiri orders was inconsistent. Not sure what it is like now, but he either has an assistant or another chef on duty during that timeslot (best to call ahead). You definitely need a reservation at the bar (since they seat only 6).

                                                  Kaygetsu in my estimation based on those two old visits, will be a gamble. The bar space (as well as fish storage) is so small that the selection will also be the same.

                                                  If they have something seasonal and rare, sometimes it is saved only for dinner courses, but one must call ahead to find out (and hopefully get the answer), at most it will be one or two really interesting fish (like chicken grunt/isaki which is a white fleshed fish), unlike Sushi Ran or Sakae for example (or Sushi Sam's for that matter).

                                                  Quality of even the nigiri making is going to vary. Prices are going to match Sakae level, and honestly I'd rather eat at Sakae where the pieces are bigger and at least you know what they have.

                                                  The only thing I wonder, is that what prices and availability of seasonal Japanese fish is like these days in the top sushi bars with the earthquake/tsunami/radiation leakage into the waters around Fukushima disaster.

                                                  -----
                                                  Kaygetsu Restaurant
                                                  325 Sharon Park Dr Ste A2, Menlo Park, CA 94025

                                                  Sakae
                                                  243 California Drive, Burlingame, CA 94010

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

                                                  Sushi Ran
                                                  107 Caledonia St., Sausalito, CA 94965

                                            2. re: K K
                                              Windy Mar 26, 2011 11:10 AM

                                              I'd go to Sushi AKA Tombo over Ino any day, especially if you care about friendly service.

                                              Sebo has its days when the fish is hard to top. But helps if you're used to NYC prices and can get a seat at the bar. I rarely eat there as a result.

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

                                              1. re: Windy
                                                K K Apr 4, 2011 01:29 PM

                                                Well Ino is clearly not for everyone. It is one of those places where you and the chef develop some sort of unspoken relationship and take it for what it is with his behavior and character/temperament. Not like he will explode or anything, but he's not one of those super fun loving chatty friendly chefs trying to make buddies with you, and not doing this as an act like some of those "sushi nazi" types as characterized by a WSJ article some time back.

                                                But I will have to agree just based on talking to friends, that Aka Tombo is definitely a better value option in relation.

                                                -----
                                                Ino Restaurant
                                                25 Miller Ave, Mill Valley, CA 94941

                                                1. re: K K
                                                  Windy Apr 4, 2011 01:41 PM

                                                  I've spent years building relationships with chefs, especially sushi chefs.

                                                  My experiences at Ino weren't good enough for me to be interesting in making that kind of investment. I'm not looking for friends, nor do I order a lot of wacky rolls. But I do expect welcoming service.

                                                  1. re: Windy
                                                    p
                                                    pauliface Apr 4, 2011 06:39 PM

                                                    I always get better food at Ino when I go with my Japanese friend than when I don't. But I do think he's the best in the area.

                                                    -----
                                                    Ino Restaurant
                                                    25 Miller Ave, Mill Valley, CA 94941

                                              2. re: K K
                                                l
                                                lrealml Mar 26, 2011 01:30 PM

                                                I also am a Sushi Sam's fan. I agree that occasionally some of the Nigiri are over garnished; however, it is easy to remove the excess. Also the Omakase always seems better when we manage to get a seat at the bar (which is hard to do because they are so busy). They definitely have some amazing fish.

                                                Like another poster said, Joy is definitely not what the OP looking for.. They really only do rolls, and the only time I tried it a few years back, the fish was just mediocre didn't seem real fresh.

                                                1. re: lrealml
                                                  K K Apr 4, 2011 01:33 PM

                                                  Not sure what you mean by removing the excess, but you can't unfortunately remove the fire and burn marks off a blowtorch sear on a fish, and once sauce is splashed on a fish, it's not like dabbing it off with a napkin can do much. I suppose one can request with the chefs to make it plain, but in some cases, depending on the quality of the fish, if they just mold the nigiri as is with no sauce no searing no condiments, it does not taste as good, which makes you wonder about the consistency of the batch that day.... Like for example if they do seared black cod nigiri, it HAS to be seared/blowtorched. If alfosino (kinmedai) is not in pristine shape, then of course they have to maybe slightly seared it, douse some sauce.

                                                  1. re: K K
                                                    ankimo Apr 4, 2011 04:27 PM

                                                    i don't like sushi sam's for that reason -- dressed up too much.
                                                    i like ino in sf. esp. ankimo
                                                    kiss is also a very nice meal
                                                    but if you're looking for yasuda level, save your money and fly down to LA for mori and zo, etc. otherwise might have to lower expectations a little.

                                                    1. re: K K
                                                      l
                                                      lrealml Apr 4, 2011 05:15 PM

                                                      I mean in the cases where there is too much daikon or too much aioli... obviously you can't remove searing... I've only had the trouble with a piece being seared past my liking twice I believe.
                                                      I agree that once the sauce is on the fish, there is no removing it completely, but I often like a little sauce and normally find the sauce/fish combinations at Sushi Sam's quite good (once I scrape some of the excess off).
                                                      If I am in the mood for plain fish, I don't go to Sushi Sam's, I go to Higuma in Redwood City for there omakase charashi or sashimi (which is great quality for the price IMO)

                                                      I need try Sakae soon (although I can't afford for them to be my regular place since they are definitely a price point higher than Sushi Sam's and over twice as expensive as Higuma)

                                                2. artychokeasana Mar 26, 2011 03:57 AM

                                                  Sushi Sam's in San Mateo is great; also try Kaygetsu in Redwood City.

                                                  -----
                                                  Kaygetsu Restaurant
                                                  325 Sharon Park Dr Ste A2, Menlo Park, CA 94025

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

                                                  1. m
                                                    Mr_Happy Mar 26, 2011 01:33 AM

                                                    Joy sushi is IMO more of a sushi roll place which I like and is fun but I think maybe not what you're looking for. Maybe Sushi Sam's in San Mateo?

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

                                                    Joy Sushi
                                                    30 S B St, San Mateo, CA 94401

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