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Sep 18, 2013 04:51 PM

Sawa Sunnyvale

[Note: This was split from a thread on Jai Yun in San Francisco, which you can read here:]

Dustin. From visits 1 through 5 in an itemized list, how much did each meal cost ?????

Thanks a bunch.

And my question was directed at either of you.

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  1. this list is very approximate, and includes tax+tip, but excludes include alcohol. for alcohol, i'd usually budget another $75 -- his sake is awesome and totally worth it. (and he has bottles of sake ranging from $60 to $600...)

    meal 1 -- $75 per person
    meal 2 -- $120
    meal 3 -- $120
    meal 4 -- $200 per person (included never-frozen line-caught tuna from aomori)
    meal 5 -- $150 per person

    i've always left feeling it was totally worth it, though, when comparing to other meals in the bay area (french laundry, manresa, saison, benu, crenn, coi, etc)

    12 Replies
    1. re: Dustin_E

      Thanks Dustin.

      And for your meals of 1 through 5, was that usually primarily (or rather mostly) composed of just sashimi ?

      btw, have you been to LA sushi bars so that you might have something to compare it too ?

      Thanks again.

      1. re: kevin

        every single sawa meal was at least 80% sashimi, with the other 20% being some combination of: grilled fish, shellfish, and/or meat; vegetables grilled or pickled; or (most often) just more sashimi.

        i've only been to urasawa in la. the only real similarity between the two is they are expensive and serve raw fish.

        hiro urasawa puts a lot of effort into the precision of the cuts, the beautiful arrangement of the ingredients, and balancing the flavors.

        steve sawa puts a lot of effort into sourcing the best fish and sake possible, and serving it in very generous portions. and he adds some light sauces to most dishes.

        i've been to lots of top places in tokyo, though, if you want comparison with those spots -- but in a nutshell none of them are particularly similar to sawa, and they are all generally a lot more humble and simple than urasawa. i'd guess (because i'm relatively uninformed about this) that sawa is similar to some expensive and exclusive izakaya that specializes in fish and sake, but sawa's portion sizes are a lot larger.

        edit: actually i'll take that back somewhat. i was at a counter-style kaiseki place in tokyo last june named "tomura" that was counter-style seating, and served about 10 courses presented very straightforward, most of which were raw fish. if you take that formula, remove some of the obsession with perfection, add some light fusion-ey sauces, and add a bit more variety to the types of protein served, and increase portion sizes, you'd have something somewhat similar to sawa.

        1. re: Dustin_E

          Yeah, I remember those portion sizes were incredibly large.

          But Dustin, take a look at the range of dishes on the website, which displays a lot of creative, and possibly French-ified dishes and the dishes look intricate with creative, novel saucing and expensive touches like caviar and truffles:

          Let me find my not too favorable review from years ago:

          1. re: kevin

            some of the dishes on his website look somewhat more intricate than what i've been served. not hugely so, but somewhat.

            the caviar in the photos looks like "tobiko" which isn't particularly expensive -- i've been served that before, perhaps in most of the meals.

            some things have definitely changed since your review (eg bills are no longer itemized, and the only choice you have is whether you want more) but it sounds like his style hasn't changed much. i don't think i've ever had any rice on any of my visits, for one. i think some noodles, but only once.

            i'm glad to know i'm not the only one who thinks of sawa as "korean style sushi"

            again, i haven't spent much time in la -- so it is very possible sawa doesn't stand up to what is available there.

            it is also the type of place that very understandably doesn't suit everyone's taste. so if you've been before, and didn't like it, probably no need to go back.

            1. re: Dustin_E

              well, from what you've described in these posts i don't need to go back.

              Though I always did wish my experience was very similar to this review which led me there originally:


              1. re: kevin

                it is easier to get in now -- you just have to call ahead and make reservations... and he doesn't do the menu test thing either -- but he does expect you to sit down and just eat omakase style. he also still hosts exclusive business lunches for vips.

                it would be possible to prefer sawa to the places in japan -- it is a much less dainty approach to top-quality fish.

                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  Huge slabs of sashimi, I think, right ?

                  1. re: kevin

                    yeah, mostly just that.

                    perhaps some of the sauces, and that steve sawa himself is korean, but mostly the huge slabs of sashimi.

        2. re: Dustin_E

          part of the value of jai yun used to be that there was no corkage, but i believe that changed at some point. anyone know when?

          pretty sure sawa won't allow you to bring in outside beverages.

          1. re: Dustin_E

            Yeah that's typical of Japanese restaurants, except perhaps Sebo in Hayes Valley since they have a deal with True Sake in the same neighborhood. In general from my experience, most Chinese restaurants will allow you to bring your own wine if you ask politely. Only the fanciest ones charge a corkage.

          2. re: Dustin_E

            looking back at my credit card statements for these meals, these numbers are way off.

          3. The original comment has been removed