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Nov 21, 2013 02:12 AM

Maruya on 16th, best sushi in SF?

Or better said, how does Maruya stand up to some of the great sushi spots in Tokyo?

After a show at ODC my girlfriend and I walked over to Bar Bambino only to discover its out of business (moved?) and Maruya sushi has taken its place.

The quality of the fish was superb as was the Uni, although the rice seemed a little too sweet. The presentation and service were heads above. I cannot remember the last time I was at sushi place, nay any restaurant, and did not have to catch the waiters attention at least once.

Maruya is the best sushi experience we've had in San Francisco.

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  1. Did you order a la carte or omakase?

    2931 16th Street
    San Francisco, CA
    415 503 0702
    Closed Monday and Sunday

    3 Replies
    1. re: Melanie Wong

      can one order a la carte? menu online doesn't seem to imply that you can

      1. re: vulber

        The linked Tasting Table review says this:
        "You're not obligated to order the set menu (though we'd recommend it). Chef Sueyoshi prepares nigiri and hand rolls à la carte. Bonus bite: Order a boozy, jade-green macha tiramisu to finish the meal. "

      2. re: Melanie Wong

        A la carte, they allow the ordering of separate pieces and as pointed out they are on the pricey end of the spectrum with per piece at $8+ ... but worth it!

      3. I've heard that one of the chefs here gave a great omakase presentation and the other one not so much. It'd be great to find out which one is the good one.

        1. Wow, thanks. They're open nice and late too.

          1. This place is practically across the street from us, so we knew we would be giving it a try. Excellent selection of fresh fish--easily Sebo or Sushi Ran quality. I ordered the sushi combination, my dining companions had Hide's omakase. All of my sushi was pristine, though the rice was maybe a tad undercooked. Lovely, restrained use of fresh wasabi, ginger, and other garnishes.

            Dinner ended with an awesomely savory bowl of red miso soup and mushrooms. Uni was some of the freshest and sweetest I've had. Very happy about this addition to the neighborhood.

            1 Reply
            1. re: possumspice

              I am waiting for them to settle down before my visit (being selfish here). It would be nice to hear from someone who tried Masa-san's omakase at Sebo back then. My personal experience was excellent, and I don't expect any less from him at Maruya.

            2. I had a great meal last night. Ordered the Masa Hide omakase, which has a few set items from the kitchen and as many nigiri as you like. Standouts were super-fresh Mendocino uni, a cured fish something like saba, and something seared with a blowtorch just before serving.

              I sat at the counter right in front of the chef so had the optimal experience. He said he gets 80% of his stuff from Japan and was talking about how important it is that the fish is killed properly and eaten after the optimal amount of time for the species.

              They have an "orange" Vermentino by the glass that goes really well with sushi. Ten pieces and three glasses of wine came to $165 before tip.

              I haven't been to enough of the top places to rank it, but it was some of the best sushi I've had. I'll have to go back and ask him for a more esoteric selection.

              21 Replies
              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                I tried both ala carte and the Maruya omakase ($85), was less satisfied with the omakase (since they gave me several fish which are not my favorites and which I would not normally order, they only served to fill me up prematurely-- e.g. 3 giant pieces of maguro in an omakase, come on?!). The side dishes provided with the omakase were good but did not knock my socks off. Have not tried the Hide omakase. I would probably go ala carte in the future. Their botan ebi was particularly good. They could use some nama sake in their list. Enjoyed the anmitsu. The ambiance is much more relaxing and zen-like (reminiscent of Urasawa) than say Saru or Hamano but prices are also much higher than either of those.

                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  Did they have an ala carte option when you went last night? Stopped in last week and the only menu we were shown at the door was for two set menus. Decided to go elsewhere as we weren't that hungry.

                  1. re: tjinsf

                    I think if you get the Masa Hide omakase you can ask for anything you want from the list I photographed. Or maybe you can just order a la carte, period, I didn't ask. Note that I split the list into two photos to make them readable.

                    I think the botan ebi were the only item I got two of. The fried heads were another highlight.

                    1. re: tjinsf

                      Ala carte is always available. That's why the menu they hand out inside shows prices per piece.

                    2. re: Robert Lauriston

                      Setting aside Japan for a sec, because I've never had sushi there, how does this compare to top-flight places in NYC / LA? I'm curious because overall, I've been very disappointed by Bay Area sushi versus my favorite places in NYC (15 East), LA (Shunji) and SD (Kaito) and would love to have this be a legit substitute... How much did the wine cost of the $165? Even setting aside $15 per glass, the $120 for 10 pieces seems ridiculously expensive and far more than it would cost me at someplace like 15 East.

                      1. re: FattyDumplin

                        Maruya is ridiculously expensive, and probably doesn't compare that well to the best of LA / NYC.

                        1. re: Dustin_E

                          Does anyone have an inside scoop on this? Why is the sushi so not up to par here. Does the best fish just not come to the area at all? Is Mayura paying an ultra premium to get better fish?

                          1. re: goldangl95

                            Let me say this....most of these high end restaurants, their sources of fish/distributors are more or less the same.

                            Michael Black and Danny Dunham back in the Sebo days once told me that they used IMP (wholesaler) and they pay for essentially boxes of "mystery fish", think "fruit of the month" or your mail order organic grocery box delivered to your door. These are kind of like bulk discounts, and usually lots of seasonal delights but sometimes you would see other things. Quality could vary but they should not be that far off. Without saying too much, it is very likely most of the restaurants out there (the good ones) are going this route as it is likely more economical, despite the risk of not necessarily knowing what is inside. The really really really good places would not just rely on one source for seafood and get them elsewhere. The rest is up to the relationship of the restaurant with the supplier to determine the quality. The remainder of the equation is skill, service, experience, and what the chefs are allowed to (or not allowed) to do if they are not part or full owners.

                            For the really top notch premium stuff available in NY and LA sushi places, if a restaurant is willing to pay, they can procure the good stuff (and if there is demand for it). The prices they pay may differ if in LA or NY...of course the more you buy (wholesale) the better. They just have to balance the books at the end of the day and see if it is worth it. Would you as a customer pay $60 to $70 for two pieces of wild Oma Japanese bluefin for a restaurant to just break even? Perhaps if you had a 3 Michelin Tokyo sushi restaurant in SF, but will you fork out $400 to $500 for a dinner with no drinks.

                            Not sure if this partly explains some of the madness and differences.

                            1. re: K K

                              My impression is that the differences between high-end sushi places depend a lot on how much time the chef spends on the phone to Japan.

                          2. re: Dustin_E

                            ok, so i'm not missing anything... because i've walked out of 15 east totally stuffed with 2 - 3 beers and been under $200. and 10 pieces is like a starter for me. guess i got my hopes up for nothing.

                            1. re: Dustin_E

                              I have trouble reconciling "probably doesn't compare that well to the best of LA / NYC" with your earlier "isn't as good as the top spots in Tokyo, but it isn't THAT far off."

                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                >> I have trouble reconciling "probably doesn't
                                >> compare that well to the best of LA / NYC" with
                                >> your earlier "isn't as good as the top spots in
                                >> Tokyo, but it isn't THAT far off."

                                I mean adjusted for price. I suspect there are places as close as maruya to top tokyo spots for a lower price in both la and new york. i've been to urasawa, masa, bar masa, yasuda, kuruma, but some of these were a while ago, and none of these are at the same price point as maruya. Which is why i say "probably" and not "certainly".

                              2. re: Dustin_E

                                Maruya may be expensive but sometime in the last year I spent a similar amount at Sakae and was even more disappointed (despite the fact that I got bigger cuts at Sakae, but I wish I went to Maruya that night instead).

                                1. re: K K

                                  Yeah, i've definitely had far more disappointing meals at price points similar to Maruya.

                                  Maruya will definitely be the place in SF I return to the next time i want an expensive sushi meal.

                                  1. re: K K

                                    Wait do tell us what disappointed you at Sakae!

                                2. re: FattyDumplin

                                  You can see the price per piece on the photos I posted.

                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                    Yikes. Thought that way too cheap to be per two but too much to be per piece. Thanks for clearing up! Feels pretty expensive even relative to other high end sushi in other cities, too bad as reviews make it seem like a really good place.

                                    1. re: FattyDumplin

                                      I dunno how it compares with other cities, but I'm not sure I spent more than I did at Sebo.

                                  2. re: FattyDumplin

                                    No comparison with my favorite places in nyc, at least (I'm thinking Sushi of Gari). Have yet to find someplace which even comes close out here.

                                    1. re: FattyDumplin

                                      I just moved to SF after having lived in NYC for many years, so I can give my perspective. I thought Maruya was pretty good, and much better than the only other sushi restaurant mentioned on Chowhound that I've been to in SF, which is Ino.

                                      In comparison to NYC sushi, I would put it just a notch below the top tier, which includes 15 East (my favorite) and Yasuda. Others would include Kuruma Zushi, Sushi Nakazawa, and Ichimura in that tier, though I personally thought all three were overrated (Kuruma serves you horseradish and not real wasabi unless you ask, Nakazawa doesn't cut his own fish half the time, and Ichimura precuts/refrigerates slices of fish when serving). I personally think Maruya is comparable to a place like Sushi Azabu in terms of quality. It's good enough that I'm not making excuses to go back to New York just to eat sushi, but if Maruya and 15 East were in the same city, I would go to 15 East, no contest.

                                      My tab came out to $200, including tax, tip, and a pricey glass of white burgundy - I asked for chef's choice, and I ate 15-20 pieces (didn't count exactly). I was definitely pretty full when finished, and I'm used to Masa at 15 East stuffing me to the gills.

                                      1. re: NYAngeleno

                                        interesting. that's helpful. i still get back to NYC once every couple of months, so it sounds like i'll save my sushi binges for there. that said, good to have an option in SF for sushi, as i'm finding myself increasingly hitting other lacking cuisines when in NYC... for example, looking forward to Takashi in a couple weeks because the asian grilled meats scene in the Bay sort of sucks.