17 2016 Apr
San FranciscoTagged food, hayes valley, omakase, sushi

Ever since I moved back to the Bay Area there seems to be more and more sushi shops. I’m not talking about the serve-you-the-usual-assortment-of-fish places. These places are catering to the eager nigiri lovers looking for hard to get fish paired with creative flavors. The one we went today was a relatively new establishment in Hayes Valley, Tsubasa Sushi.

Worried that we couldn’t get seating, I made reservations. At first they told me they didn’t take any. Then they called me back and said they would and if I wanted to sit at the bar. Okay. Sure.

When we arrived I was a bit surprised that the place was empty for a Sunday night. About half the place was occupied. The large tables weren’t being used though most of the smaller two to four people tables were filled. Glancing over the menu and seeing the variety of rolls and the word “fusion” on the menu, I think the owners wanted to make this more of a lively setting. A place for large parties to come and sample their selection of food and spirits. The patrons tonight had a different idea. The parties tonight were either a pair like us or a small group of three or four. In my opinion, all they need to change was the length of the sushi bar. More seats please! However, this may have been due to the previous owners which also served sushi, but from what I gathered, not to this level of craftsmanship.

Anyways, we made it clear that we wanted to be wow’d by their omakase, which comes in at $60USD (up from $54 a month earlier) for 12 pieces of nigiri. And since we saw chawanmushi on the menu, we got that too.

The food came at a reasonable pace with a complimentary starter. The individual nigiri came out in three sets of three and one set of two, leaving the last for us to choose. Clever. The time in between the sets we occupied with general helpings of beer and sake. Don’t worry, we didn’t go overboard, even with the wait staff checking in every once in awhile. The food was up and down, but mostly on the up. There were memorable ones and only a few, I-wish-I-hadn’t. That’s the risk you take when you explore. The meal took about an hour to complete and by the time we left, more people had rolled in. No lines outside though.

Tsubasa Sushi

429 Gough Street
San Francisco, CA 94102
+1 (415) 551-9688

Verdict: If you want high grade sushi without a ridiculous wait, give this place a try.

UPDATE 9/10/2016

Coming back here, it was great to learn that they streamlined the menu and focused making their nigiri favorites even better. It’s definitely going to be fun checking back often to see what they’re up to. I see what you’re doing here. Keep it up guys!

The Storefront

I bit hard to spot with the restaurant marked by that little sign. It's not like you won't be able to spot that it was a sushi restaurant when you look in though.

Tako Su @Tsubasa Sushi

This was a nice way to start our meal, a complimentary squid seaweed salad. I actually love the fact that it was kept raw to keep the squid's unique texture.

Ox Impressions: 

Hirame @Tsubasa Sushi

This piece of flounder was light and clean with a bit overpowering glaze and topping. I don't think I was able to taste much of the fish and maybe I'm spoiled by having the spine cut that I can't enjoy normal flounder any more.

Ox Impressions: 

Kanpachi @Tsubasa Sushi

A nice thick cut of wild amberjack with a dash of nikiri and a sliver of lime.

Ox Impressions: 

Kurodai @Tsubasa Sushi

I'm a sucker for black sea bream. Char it a bit like they do here and you have me hook, line, and sinker. This got me real excited about the rest of the meal.

Ox Impressions: 

Crab Chawamushi @Tsubasa Sushi

After our first set out comes the steamed egg custard with crab. It takes about 15 minutes to make so you can guess how long into the meal we were. But oh man, this stuff was worth the wait. As small as it may look, there's s good amount of crab meat waiting under there.


Ox Impressions: 

Crab Chawamushi @Tsubasa Sushi

I have to share a second shot of this. Pretty deceptive chunk of crab on top right. Well there's more of it hidden in that soft savory custard.

Yo Saba @Tsubasa Sushi

If you've read my other posts on sushi, I'm sorta on the extremes with mackerel. Either I hate or love it. In this case I love this wild mackerel. The tastes aren't too strong like the cured ones you find. This was nice and hearty sans any of that tangy madness.

Ox Impressions: 

Inada @Tsubasa Sushi

What we started to notice that each set had a seared nigiri. Here we had a lightly seared wild young yellowtail. Oh, how the flavors dance in your taste buds.

Ox Impressions: 

Chu-Toro @Tsubasa Sushi

Medium fat seems to span a large range. At first glance this looks like your normal cut of black fin tuna. But when you look closer and after taste it, it's definitely not your basic cut of maguro.

Ox Impressions: 

Shima Aji @Tsubasa Sushi

Wild yellow jack. So similar to the kanpachi, amberjack, that I think I need to have these side by side next time. And yes, there will be a next time.

Ox Impressions: 

Madai @Tsubasa Sushi

The red sea bream was obviously the piece that saw the torch in this set and I didn't mind the taste of it.

Ox Impressions: 

Sayori @Tsubasa Sushi

You don't get to see this one too often, unless you're in Japan. Here they prepared it beautifully. Just look at that touch of silver. And the taste, it tasted like I was back in Osaka.

Ox Impressions: 

Hirame @Tsubasa Sushi

I think the chef read my mind, because I don't think this was their hirame konbu jime, flounder marinated in kelp. This was hirame engawa, the cut of flounder near the fin. Thank you chef!

Ox Impressions: 

Aka-Madai @Tsubasa Sushi

This tasting included so many species of fish from Japan and this one was no exception, wild red tile fish. My personal sushi catalog is expanding way too fast. It's going to be hard remembering these tastes. So happy this place had a unique selection.

Ox Impressions: 

Hokkaido Uni @Tsubasa Sushi

Last but not least was sea urchin from Hokkaido. Always a favorite for me and their rendition did not disappoint one bit. Fresh dollop on top of some quality rice. Nori not needed.

Ox Impressions: 

The OxPosted April 17, 2016 By the hungry ox

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