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.
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.
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!
There are many places around South Bay where you can go to enjoy some food and drinks with your co-workers. For starters, you have all those restaurants around downtown Mountain View on Castro street. Of course, most of them cater to the power lunch crowds. You can’t blame them since business rents in that area are as astronomical as residential rents. So to find a more down to earth comfort foods, you have to look elsewhere. For us, we had two requirements, close to the office and Japanese izakaya. Enter Tanto.
It’s located on El Camino and is a popular spot. So make sure you get reservations. Parking can be problematic too given the annoyed neighboring business who had to deal with the success of Tanto. Make sure you read the signs when you park.
Inside there are your tables and off to the side are booths, semi traditional ones where you can take off your shoes before sitting. It’s a very inviting atmosphere. Add in the wait staff and you’ll feel right at home. Our dishes came out quickly one after the other. And our waitress was helpful in making sure we weren’t over ordering, which we still ended up doing. But hey, she warned us. Sure, the food was classified as Japanese tapas, but the portions were more than what we expected. So glad we had a large enough group!
Tanto Japanese Restaurant
1063 E El Camino Real
Sunnyvale, CA 94087
+1 (408) 244-7311
Verdict: A must for those of you working in Mountain View or Sunnyvale who don’t want to travel too far for a great meal.
Once again, not in San Francisco, but in San Mateo do we discover good sushi at I would add, very affordable prices. A 30 minute drive south of the city is DASH Japanese Tapas and Sushi. Located right across from the movie theater, you’d probably overlook it if it weren’t for the lines. We had reservations so that worked out perfectly.
We were seated right away and took a couple run throughs of the menu and went with their omakase. Here, they have two choices for omakase, a $20USD 5 piece or a $40USD 10 piece. You can do either sashimi or nigiri. We chose nigiri along with a couple appetizers. It was advertise as a tapas place as well, so why not.
The appetizers came out quickly and all were good except for the shooter. I’d forgo getting that and stick to sushi. Then it was prepping for our sushi courses. That meant passing time with beers, several actually. Service could use some more tuning. But to be fair, they were training a new member. We had to flag down our servers for orders and reorders. Even though we could have gone through our sushi chef, he was busy preparing all the sushi for the restaurant. He does a fantastic job with the fish. All they need to do is train someone else to help scale the offering. I saw him prepare the ten piece nigiri set when we first came in. As the place got busy and it came to us, we got a serving of 5 and 5 (and eventually another 5). A good move by the chef to keep us from sitting without anything to eat.
I can tell this place has potential of going from good to great. Chef George was very personable and the selection of fish was perfect for those who want to expand their experiences in sushi.
DASH Japanese Tapas and Sushi
220 Main St
San Mateo, CA 94401
+1 (650) 340-1508
UPDATE: They have moved around the block to 204A 2nd Ave San Mateo, CA 94401 and updated their menu. Stay tuned for details.
Verdict: An unpretentious place for sushi at a surprisingly low cost. This may become my neighborhood favorite.
A little south of the San Francisco airport is where you can find the New England Lobster Company. A bit out of the way but when you’re craving a good lobster roll, you might want to make the hike. It’s not in a strip mall or near other restaurants. It’s just there, surrounded by warehouses and office buildings, ready to give you this mighty sea crustacean from the east coast. This place was a huge upgrade. I remember visiting their little food truck many years ago in a similar setting that left me with a “why are they all the way out here.” But like the saying goes, build it and they’ll come and we did.
This place was both a market and a restaurant which makes sense. The first time we visited them was to get some frozen lobster tails from the store. Now they got plenty of stock for all you seafood lovers. There’s dungeness crab, oysters, scallops, and many more. You can even take home some of their chowder. All that can be done on one side where the rest was dedicated to the restaurant. Plenty of seating. All you have to do was read the giant menu, order, get your number, find a seat, and wait for your food. Oh, you’ll want to pick up some utensils too. After the food came out, it was time to chow down. Great stuff. You can judge from the pictures below.
New England Lobster Company
824 Cowan Rd
Burlingame, CA 94080
+1 (650) 443-1559
Verdict: Not a bad way to upgrade your spot New England. When I return home from a trip and want a lobster roll, I’ll know where to go.
When it comes to lively sushi places, Sushi Sam’s Edomata nails it. This place had been on my dinner list for quite some time. Countless number of friends posting delectable pictures and raving about their times here was getting unbearable. Even with the number of good sushi restaurants opening up in the city, this restaurant still shined in their minds. And now I could see why.
You can tell it’s a local favorite given the amount of patrons walking in who knew the chefs by name. One by one, people came in a were shown to the bar. We stood there hoping our reservations would land us there too since we didn’t put down a preference. Low an behold, there were exactly three seats with our names on it, at the bar, next to the window. The stars were aligning my friends.
Inside the place was loud but manageable. It’s the energy level that’ll sweep you away. Servers are whisking by attending to basically everyone.
We went for their sushi omakase which was a two hour journey into their best selections filled with drinks and fun. Courses came out quickly one after another. Served on these little white plates, you’ll watch as they stack up after you finish each course. The nigiri was served in pairs. One complimenting the other. I’d say their creations with the yuzu salt was unique but a bit on the salty side. The others, are topped with nikiri. All were to be eaten as is, without any additional soy sauce. It’s not like we needed it. Each bite had enough flavor to feed our grins from ear to ear.
This visit will be one of many visits during my time here in San Mateo.
Sushi Sam’s Edomata
218 E 3rd Ave
San Mateo, CA 94401
+1 (650) 344-0888
Verdict: A sushi omakase must visit for both the food and atmosphere.