Acclaimed restaurateur Yoshi Tome came to America for a teacher-exchange program, but he used his degree more in teaching Americans how to truly enjoy sushi. Today he owns the restaurant Sushi Ran, where his chefs craft entrees with fresh fish from local purveyors or from the Tsukiji market in Tokyo. Executive chef Scott Whitman has a plate for every taste—vegetarian options, seafood, and meaty entrees including slow-cooked duck breast and Vietnamese shaking beef. Meanwhile, executive sushi chef Nori Kusakabe rolls soft-shell crab, vegetables, and spicy tuna at the sushi bar. Wine director Gabriel Alamilla helps diners navigate the 300-bottle wine list and explore the collection of 30 small-production wines by the glass. He matches rieslings with raw fish and chardonnays with Japanese entrees. He can also recommend a selection from 30 different sakes, which are separated into four categories: fragrant, light/smooth, rich, and aged.
At Tokyo Shabu Sushi Restaurant, sushi masters slice up delicate sashimi and handrolled maki while chefs put flame to chicken katsu, teriyaki steak, and umami udon noodle soups. But the crew also takes their flavors a step beyond the offerings of many other Japanese restaurants. The menu has a knack of blending Japanese and western influences, as seen in teriyaki-style New York strip steak and a creamy cheesecake dessert made with earthy green tea. Potent sake cocktails and frosty Japanese beers go with just about any dish and help visitors work up the courage to perform their spoken-word versions of "Purple Rain" during weekend karaoke.
Master chef Kaz Sasaki has spent more than 15 years behind a sushi bar. But his roots in the craft extend much deeper than that. Chef Sasaki learned his skills from his father, Master Yuzo Sasaki, a man who was required to spend the first three years of his sushi apprenticeship perfecting his rice-making techniques before he was allowed to even touch a piece of fish. Chef Kaz also learned that great sushi not only looks good, but also has the right consistency?it's not too hard to chew or too soft and falling apart like a magician performing without his smoke bombs.
At Taki Sushi, chef Kaz composes a menu that includes sashimi, nigiri, and nearly 20 different special rolls. He also crafts other Japanese favorites, including shabu-shabu hot pots, sukiyaki, and udon.
Inside Tip: Though customizable rolls are the top seller, you can also opt for signature selections such as the miso sushi roll with salmon, tuna, fish cake, seaweed salad, and pickled radish.
Kimchi: a spicy-and-sour mix of fermented veggies such as cabbage, radish, and cucumber that’s popular in Korea
Tobiko: flying fish roe; its red-orange color and crunchy texture make it a popular garnish for sushi
While You’re in the Neighborhood: After dinner, sip a drink while listening to a live DJ at EZ5 (684 Commerical Street).
Perhaps Frommer’s put it best when describing what sets Ace Wasabi's Rock-N-Roll Sushi apart “from the usual sushi spots around town,” citing “the unique combinations, the varied menu, and the young, hip atmosphere.” Indeed, this restaurant has stood out since 1995 thanks to inventive dishes that feature seasonal fish flown in from Tokyo's Tsukiji Fish Market. The tuna, scallops, crabs, and salmon are paired with accouterments such as maine lobster and Niman Ranch bacon bits. Nearly 40 maki rolls fill up the dinner menu––with options named after famous bands, movies, lingerie shops, and even Elvis¬¬––many of which can be wrapped in organic quinoa instead of sushi rice. No matter the selection, there’s something to complement its flavors on the drink menu, which includes six beers on tap, wines from around the globe, seven signature cocktails, and an extensive list of cold and hot sake. Not surprisingly, posters and album covers from rock-and-roll bands such as U2 and The Pretenders bedeck the walls, which are illuminated by studio lighting. Bottles of sake and candles line display cases, and an open sushi bar gives diners a chance to watch the masters at work.
Live Sushi Bar and Live Sushi Bistro blend tradition with innovation in the rice-wrapped fish arts at both welcoming restaurants. Both distinct locations share lunch, dinner, and drink menus, as well as experienced staff and sushi chefs who demonstrate their skills at a sushi bar outfitted with seats for dining spectators.
A Sampling of Sushi
Some Not-Sushi Options