When Ino Sushi in Japantown closed down last year my heart sank. There went a great little shop that specialized in traditional nigiri, simply fish and rice with hardly any additives. It will be missed. However, moving into the space was the former owner of Koo, Kiyoshi Hayakawa. A place I loved for, you guessed it, traditional sushi. Not that the new trend of unique tasting sushi wasn’t good. It’s just sometimes, you’ll want to taste more unadulterated fish. That’s what Koo brought, and now that’s what An Japanese Restaurant brings back to Japantown. Though at a higher price of $80USD for their 12 piece nigiri set with an appetizer and salad.
We didn’t make a reservation and decided to walk in right when they opened to make sure we got seating at the counter. It’s a small place which probably seats around twelve people comfortably. During the Ino days seating was quite difficult to get if your timing wasn’t right. Throughout the meal, there were still seats available. So if you’re looking to try this place out, you should swing by soon as I’m sure things will get busy. They have only moved in for about a year and seem to be still adjusting. I’ve seen them referred to as Sushi An. Now it’s An Japanese Restaurant. The omakase pricing changed as well, though a very modest increase from $75. I speculate that’s due to the unique fish they’re able to offer. But then again, maybe it’s the rent.
Anyways, the experience was still fantastic. The chefs were very quick to keep the nigiri prepared, one bite at a time, while the waitress made sure the sake glasses were kept at an adequate level. Love their spillover cups. And what makes this dinner so great in a space like this, you get to talk to the chefs. No really, you get to talk to them. There’s only six people at the bar and you’ll get to know more about the unique cuts they serve. Trust me, I was that annoying guy asking everything from the type, to the region, and even the pronunciation in Japanese. Yeah, they didn’t mind at all and even wondered what I’ve eaten before. That’s getting to know your soon to be repeat customers.
An Japanese Restaurant
Japan Center East Mall, Upper Level
22 Peace Plaza #510
San Francisco, CA 94115
Verdict: A win even with a few misses and a high price point, check this place out. You’ll love the cozy atmosphere.
Time for another night of omakase and tonight we are checking out Sakae Sushi. It’s a modest size establishment on the corner of Burlingame, right across the street of the Caltrain station. So if you’re traveling by rail, this place would be convenient. But if you’re driving here, you should be able to find parking around the area. There’s even a small paid parking lot nearby.
Last year I had visited this place and got the lesser priced sushi omakase which had a delightful selection of nigiri. I’ve been wondering about their $115 option after trying this price point at other places around San Francisco. Here it includes two appetizers, a ten piece selection of nigiri, and soup. We went ahead and ordered that and within minutes the first course came out. The pace was pretty quick. By the time the nigiri came out, we weren’t even finished with the second course. Granted we were busy chatting away, so timing may have been perfect. The only drawback of the meal were some bits of slip ups in the nigiri preparation. Some particles of of other dishes on the pieces. Not anything to be up in arms about, but I was expecting some fine craftsmanship. Timing wasn’t an excuse since we were there early in the evening. Maybe it was a new chef. I’m not sure. I wish we got a seating at the bar. I don’t think this would have happened there.
All in all, it was a solid meal. Service was good and the selection of fish was good. Can’t complain there.
243 California Drive
Burlingame, CA 94010
+1 (650) 348-4064
Verdict: I can’t really say this was worth the $115, but they do offer a $75 option which I’d recommend.
You may think finding good sushi in Japan would be easy right? Well, if you know Okinawa, you’re in for a surprise. It will take a bit of work, weeding out those that focused on rolls, to find a premium place offering quality fish and a dedication to the craft of nigiri. Enter Jirocho Sushi, a restaurant right by Araha Beach in Chatan.
Once I got to the restaurant I was eager to try out the omakase. Inside, the restaurant was big with about three sections, the bar, the center dining area surrounded by sunken seating around the windows, to the more intimate dining area located off the main area. It looked like most of the locals ate in that section while the foreigners, myself included, sat in the brighter sections of the restaurant. I chose the sushi bar like any other lost hipster doing what he’s been conditioned to do, which was fine for me. They brought out an English menu and maybe it was the jetlag, but I ordered a feast.
Service was great and the food hit the spot. I know I’m a bit spoiled when it comes to sushi. And while I left satisfied, I did enjoy the other dishes more than the chef’s selection of nigiri. It was the same variety of fish I find at most restaurants. Yeah, I wish I wasn’t this much of a snob. 🙁
Jirocho Sushi (次郎長寿司)
1 Chome-12-9 Nakagami District
Chatan, Okinawa Prefecture 904-0116, Japan
Verdict: An above average place when it comes to selection and quality.
You hear of good sushi places all the time. And if you’re like me, you have a bit of skepticism. But when it came to Saru Sushi, it wasn’t how many people said it was amazing, it was who, plenty of fellow skeptics and food snobs. And after coming here, I get it, it’s good. It’s real good. You have to appreciate the creations and flavors they put together and you’ll fall in love with this place.
We got the fifteen minutes before they opened and already a few people were there with the same idea. First seating. And this was a Tuesday.
Once they opened we were seated right away. They had a couple seats outside and next to the window, but we chose the bar. Meeting the sushi chefs would be a good idea for future visits. The pair next to us already made that connection. And from what I saw, their nigiri omakase set included some very unique courses. As you may have guessed, I’ll have to come back to do the same. Not to say our set wasn’t great. It was and included some unique fish I haven’t had, wild and young. Yeah, we’re still talking about sushi here.
Although each of us got the nigiri tasting, $60USD for 12 kinds, we added a couple of other dishes we read about, the tasting spoons and the himachi truffle. With that and one more round of nigiri, I left fulfilled. I should note that I was starving before dinner and I ate more than I normally do. Not bad filling your belly with high quality food. Great job chefs. Ill see you soon for the advanced course.
3856 24th Street
San Francisco, CA 94114
Verdict: You want to taste some fine sushi, come here and have their sushi omakase.