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.
Featured on Best of the Bay, Kobe Japan's menu of colorful sushi plates and entertaining hibachi draw in streams of steak- and seafood-lovers. After an appetizer of bacon-wrapped Tsunami shrimp ($7.50), patrons may peruse the six-page sushi menu, which showcases a creative collection of seaweed-and-rice roll-ups. The Titanic roll balances shrimp tempura, tuna, spicy crab meat, and salmon ($14.95), and the Hippo roll snuggles yellow tail, tuna, and salmon tighter than a scuba suit's bear hug ($8.95). Those feasting from the hibachi menu can pair sips of house sake ($7) with certified-Angus New York steak, served hot off an iron griddle to flame-kiss mouth-buds with juicy flavor ($22).
Nama Sushi is named for its wide-ranging list of handmade sushi, but the restaurant's chefs also craft steamy dinnertime feasts featuring nutritious buckwheat noodles, crispy tempura vegetables, and teriyaki specialties. The team whips up seafood-filled udon soups, grills barbecue short ribs, deep-fries pork cutlets, and tosses chicken in spicy sauce. For diversified meals, they pile Japanese goodies onto combination dinners served with mixed tempura, miso salad, and rice.
Sushi California sates eager bellies with a suite of delectable Asian cuisine. Non-seafood nosh-seekers feast upon succulent specials such as the chicken teriyaki, served with rice, soup, and salad ($7.75 at lunch, $11.95 at dinner), and ice-cream-chapped esophagi can defrost with warm, brothy udon soup ($7.95). Sushi offerings span raw-fish styles, with humbly unadorned sashimi arriving in chirashi ($16.50) and hamachi ($19.75) platters with small, rice-bound nigiri balls bearing loads of green mussels ($3.75), scallops ($4.75), salmon ($4.25), and mackerel ($3.95). Eclectic six-piece rolls range from the classic california ($4.50), which ensnares crab cake and avocado within its rice-and-seaweed tractor beam, to the unhinged crazy roll, which smuggles in yellow tail, fish roe, tuna, avocado, and cucumber ($8.95). Veggie-friendly options abound, from inari pieces ($2.75) to squash rolls ($3.95).
The atmosphere at Edoko contrasts sharply with what you might expect from a buffet. The walls are lined with natural wood accents and overhead, paper lanterns hang from thin wooden beams that slant at angles. The family-owned restaurant serves sushi buffet and traditional sashimi and Japanese cuisine, using natural ingredients including organic greens and fresh seafood from local shrimp forests.
O Chamé’s lunch and dinner menus blend traditional Japanese flavors with California cuisine’s penchant for local produce, showcasing “everything that’s right about ‘fusion’ cuisine,” according to San Francisco Chronicle food critic Michael Bauer. Pass through O Chamé’s entryway, where bamboo stalks and other foliage snuggle up to amorous walls, before sitting down to sample one of more than 20 appetizers in a golden-hued dining area decorated with Eastern-themed scenes. Rafts of fried tofu drift in a sea of fish broth and fresh hijiki seaweed (lunch only), and chefs dress fashion-forward seared yellowtail sashimi in braised-leek and horseradish-sauce garments. For the main course, cooks fill big bowls with steaming broth and udon noodles, crafting eight varieties of the “bracing elixir” Bauer calls one of San Francisco’s finest. Patrons can slurp up such ingredients as grilled oysters or braised beef shoulder with spinach and takuan, a Japanese pickle. Desserts such as poached bosc pear with fresh blueberries cap off dinners with a dazzling mélange of fruits one wouldn’t wear for a night on the town, unlike banana hats or pumpkin daisy dukes.