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Akiko sushi vs. Ino recommendations please [San Francisco]

Hi Chowhounders,

I'm looking for a good omakase experience in San Francisco; I'm staying in Japan town but am able to travel within the city. I have a reservation at Akiko but am also contemplating Ino; however, I'm put off by the negative reviews of the chef. I can deal with unfriendly, but would probably find rude behavior would color my appreciation of the meal. If there are other restaurants you think I should consider I'd be very happy to get your advice.

An interesting and high quality selection of fish is most important to me as I'm most interested in sushi and sashimi.

Thanks so much!

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  1. Kiss is definitely worth considering if you want the whole omakase experience. I'm also a huge fan of Sushi Aka Tombo.

    I am one of those that gave up on Ino years ago - and I was living in JTown and frequenting their restaurants often. Even being a regular didn't garner better service or treatment. For me, no reason to give anyone money for good fish and a snarl.

    2 Replies
    1. re: CarrieWas218

      >> Even being a regular didn't garner better service or treatment.

      I agree with this point. I don't think being a regular changes how he treats people at all.

      1. re: CarrieWas218

        I love Sushi Aka Tombo. Won't go back to Ino.

      2. i think akiko's is your best bet if you're serious about sushi and don't want to risk it with ino.

        kiss is more kaiseki than sushi.

        sushi aka tombo just isn't at the same level as ino or akiko's.

        that said, i've never had a problem with ino, and have been probably >30 times.

        1. Kiyoshi-san at Koo in the Sunset is my favorite, hands down.

          I can no longer endorse Aka Tombo after my last couple of meals there.

          Ino's food is very good but I have no desire to ever set foot there again. He's just too grumpy.

          Has anyone tried the newly opened Maruya in the Mission? It looks fantastic. I have a reservation for early December.

          http://www.maruyasf.com/

          1. thank you so much for your help and suggestions; I think I'll stick with Akiko this time and give the other suggestions a try at a later date.

            Thanks again!

            1. Hijacking this to report a recent trip to Ino (after having visited Akiko, Maruya, Kusakabe, and Ichi).

              My god. I don't think Ino belongs in the same tier as the other four. I honestly think my neighborhood sushi joint (Kiji in Mission) is better than Ino. Completely ignoring any issues with service (which honestly was not that bad), Ino was far too heavyhanded with the wasabi which killed almost any opportunity for me to enjoy the fish. Not that it mattered since he mostly served me bland cuts. The ankimo was good, the mackerel was decent, but every other nigiri I was served was lean and tasteless. Ino doesn't even bother with acids or sauces to brighten fish like hirame. Ino also has this curious practice of serving me two nigiri of every fish for an omakase order. I later learned that I can order single pieces with less wasabi, but from the fish I was served I just don't think it would be better than a place like Ichi or Akiko, to say nothing of holy temples to sushi like Maruya or Kusakabe.

              Maybe I just need to become a regular and learn what precisely to ask for, but after my one meal I would not recommend Ino to anyone.

              6 Replies
              1. re: ajyi2012

                I agree with your report. Ino might have been top tier for San Francisco many years ago but that is simply no longer the case. Add the terrible service to the equation and there is no reason to go. My current SF sushi ranking goes like this:

                1. Kusakabe
                2. Maruya
                3. Koo
                4. Akiko
                5. Ichi

                Ino would make the top 10 food wise, but I refuse to go due to the poor service.

                1. re: od_sf

                  After visiting Ichi tonight, I have to take it out of my top 5 SF sushi spots list. Very small pieces of nigiri with uninspired, over-sauced neta, and underseasoned shari. Not impressed.

                  1. re: od_sf

                    It's kinda interesting (and sad?) to see your Top 5 list is all about newcomers, except Koo. How do places like Zushi Puzzle and Roka Akor fit in there?

                    1. re: vincentlo

                      I find the sushi at Roka akor to be generally mediocre, unfortunately. I go there primarily for the A5 wagyu and side dishes.

                  2. re: ajyi2012

                    ino uses lots of wasabi, which is definitely an acquired taste.

                    >> Ino doesn't even bother with acids or sauces to brighten fish like hirame.

                    this is a style thing. not all good sushi places use acids and sauces. i believe acids and sauces are a more recent trend in sushi.

                    1. re: Dustin_E

                      Sauces and toppings on sushi seem to be much less common and much less elaborate in SF than elsewhere (e.g. nyc, boston). While purists may view sauces/toppings as anathema, others (myself included) think they're the greatest thing since sliced bread. I hope some SF places will step up their game and start offering us more variety along these lines.