Barracuda Japanese Restaurant?s chefs tweak their selection of sushi rolls, teriyaki dishes, and noodle bowls to make sure that each of the eatery?s three locations offers a tailored menu. The restaurant?s namesake roll tops a core of soft shell crab and avocado with sliced salmon, mango, spicy mayo, unagi sauce, and tobiko. Other rolls showcase an eclectic spread of ingredients ranging from deep-fried spicy tuna and jalapenos to chicken and white wine sauce. The chefs even eschew rice in certain rolls, instead swaddling ingredients with iceberg lettuce, cucumber slices, and cozy blankets. Traditional Japanese cooked dishes also star on the menu, including spicy pork slathered in teriyaki sauce and tempera veggies submerged in udon soup.
The sushi chefs at Yoko’s Japanese Cuisine artistically roll arrangements of eel, spicy tuna, and thick-sliced salmon for diners to prod with discerning chopsticks. The menu reads like a voracious mariner's Christmas list with its plethora of ocean-fresh goodies, such as traditional california rolls ($3.75), tied together with delicate ribbons of seaweed. King Kong specialty rolls ($7.95) swat away hunger as if it were a pesky airplane, daring tongues to scale a towering combination of hamachi, salmon, and crab to reach a pinnacle of spicy squid. The deep-fried Dangerous roll ($7.95) lives life on the plate’s edge with a bold assortment of fish, avocado, and scallions, and the spicy scallop salad creeps down the slopes of the crab- and unagi-packed Volcano roll ($7.95). Diners need not scan the ocean’s vast horizon to find vegetarian or cooked options, as herbivore-friendly shiitake mushroom rolls ($2.95) and grilled chicken-teriyaki entrees ($8.95) placate taste buds of all persuasions in the restaurant’s low-key dining room.
The Inner Sunset's roots are modest. The area was once made up of sand dunes, and early developers called the area "Sunset" to try and attract residents despite its omnipresent fog. But it flourished regardless, thanks to low rent prices that attracted UCSF medical students as well as immigrants—first mainly Irish and then Asian—which led to the Inner Sunset's diverse array of mom-and-pop businesses. Today, gentrification has finally caught up with the area, but the neighborhood's held onto its deep small-business origins, and there are still plenty of locally owned restaurants and specialty shops to patronize.
Begin with a Healthy Breakfast: It's the most important meal of the day, so why not start out with organic, fair-trade, locally produced food at Crepevine (624 Irving Street)? There are sweet and savory crepes, of course, but the restaurant also serve up eggs and pancakes made from a secret house mix. Feel free to take your time, as most of the nearby shops don't open until 11 a.m.
Outfit Yourself in a New Outfit: After licking the last of the 100% Grade A maple syrup from your plate, head off on a window-shopping adventure. There are several specialty boutiques clustered on Irving Street and North 7th and 9th Avenues. Save some money by shopping at the funky Crossroads Trading Co. consignment shop (630 Irving Street) or find a très chic hat at Parisian-style boutique Cranberry (536 Irving Street). Accessorize your new attire with handmade pieces from local jewelers at Paragraph (1234 9th Avenue).
Figure Out What a Crumpet Is: Refuel after shopping at Secret Garden Tea House (721 Lincoln Way), which serves traditional afternoon tea and a mouthwatering selection of pastries, small sandwiches, and salads. To make sure the restaurant has your favorite items in stock, call in your order ahead of time.
Embark on an Ecological Adventure: The 55-acre San Francisco Botanical Garden (1199 9th Avenue) is not only good for your soul—you can admire 8,000 plants across manicured plots and open spaces—but it’s also good for your wallet. It's free for San Francisco City and County residents.
Dine at a Hidden Gem: Thought it’s small, Kitchen Kura (1525 Irving Street) finds the space to whip up a wide selection of the kinds of dishes you might find in a traditional Japanese household. This includes okonomiyaki—pancakes made with flour, cabbage, egg, and meat, seafood, or veggies—as well as nanban—fried garlic chicken—and nishime—vegetable stew. Of-age guests can sip a premium cold sake flight, and nonalcoholic plum soda is also served.
Finish on a Sweet Note: After enjoying a French breakfast, British lunch, and Japanese dinner, devour some Italian gelato for dessert. Since Holy Gelato (1392 9th Avenue) is open until 11 p.m., you'll have plenty of time to try an assortment of flavors that include sea-salt caramel, amaretto, and chocolate hazelnut.
Stripped-Down Sushi | Tokyo-Style Kitsch | Underground Dining (Literally)
When to Go: Happy-hour discounts run from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m., and you’ll probably have more luck getting a seat right away.
While You Wait
Kenchin-style soup: a soup that incorporates hearty, all-vegan ingredients, including lots of root vegetables, tofu, and shiitake mushrooms. It originates from Japan’s Buddhist temple culture.
Tsukune: Japanese chicken meatballs, often cooked on a skewer and covered in a sweet soy-based sauce.
While You’re in the Neighborhood Before: Peruse the eclectic wares at A&G Merch, which sells everything from acacia-wood coffee tables to whale-shaped bottle openers (2279 Market Street). After: End the night with a seasonal cocktail and a game of pool at Blackbird (2124 Market Street).
Know Your Ingredients According to The Wall Street Journal, the majority of Akiko’s seafood comes from the Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo. Many of the other items are sourced from local merchants or other Japanese cities.
While You’re in the Neighborhood Before:Stop by for some treats, many of which are imported from the UK, at Fiona’s Sweetshoppe (214 Sutter Street). Just be careful not to spoil your appetite. After:Stop by for a nightcap and a chat with one of the friendly bartenders at Rickhouse (http://www.rickhousebar.com/).
If You Can’t Make It, Try This: The sashimi and specialty rolls at Sushi Toni (733 Bush Street), which also stocks a well-curated selection of Japanese saki.
Don’t be fooled by the burrito-like presentation—each and every sushirrito contains classic and inventive sushi flavors, rolled up fresh with every order. Chefs prepare a wide array of these inventive riffs on sushi, including the Salmon Samba sushirrito—made with king salmon—and The Satori sushiritto, which features kona white fish with wasabi mayo and various veggies. They break sushi norms with other items on the menu, as well. For the Porkivore, for example, they spread mustard-seed mayo over oven-roasted pork belly. Whatever the fillings, though, chefs always add a generous helping of sushi rice that’s sourced from California growers.
Folding sushi into a burrito-like form all comes down to convenience for founder Peter Yen. While working in San Francisco, Mr. Yen often wanted sushi for lunch. There were a couple of problems, though: fancy restaurants weren’t practical spots to enjoy an afternoon meal, and quick-service sushi places just weren’t up to snuff quality-wise. To find a remedy to this conundrum, Peter joined forces with chef Ty Mahler and came up with a novel concept: use a giant piece of nori like a tortilla and create a made-to-order, burrito-like meal stuffed with Asian and Latin flavors. Hence, the sushirrito was born. Customers can easily eat the handheld meal onsite, or store it in their briefcases while they climb the rappelling ropes back up to their offices.
Every piece of fish inside a sushirrito comes from Royal Hawaiian Seafood, a company committed to sustainability. That means steelhead trout arrives from a responsibly farmed containment system. Furthermore, fishers use single hooks to catch yellowfin tuna—ensuring no unintentional creatures wind up in the nets. Founder Peter Yen’s commitment to the environment, however, goes well beyond the ocean. He and his staff rely on compostable and biodegradable clamshell containers, and the design team at Gi Paoletti Design Lab used eco-friendly items when coming up with the restaurants’ decor.