This Saturday is Halloween and that means the streets of San Francisco will be awash with drunken, costume clad revelers. If you don’t want to elbow your way past hipsters dressed as Donald Trump and Caitlyn Jenner to get a martini, we recommend you book a reservation at one of the city’s top sushi restaurants instead. Sip sake (or a potent whiskey cocktail) and delight in the exotic — that fresh uni and eel, better beware! There’s no better way to celebrate Halloween than with a killer meal and you can’t go wrong with one of the following five stellar spots for sushi.
When Michael Mina announced that his restaurant group was opening a modern izakaya with a sushi bar in the Financial District, we were skeptical. But the high-end Japanese eatery, run by executive chef Ken Tominaga, is a smash hit. Sushi lovers should book a seat at the intimate sushi counter where you can interact with the chefs as they are hand rolling the fish, flown in from Tokyo’s famed Tsukji Market. Michael’s Negitoro, a roll with bluefin fatty tuna, scallion, uni, and ikura is a must order. One of the best things about Pabu is its spacious and lively bar with extensive sake and Japanese whisky lists. Order that martini or opt for an aromatic rum cocktail with fresh yuzu and chocolate bitters. Cheers!
101 California Street San Francisco, CA 94111
Omakase has been open for less than six months, but it’s already the talk of town among sushi connoisseur. Just last week it earned a star from Michelin! There are only 14 counter seats at the stark and clean bar. A trio of quiet and focused chefs make magic with sticky white rice and seafood that’s flown in three times per week from Japan. There is no set menu, instead diners choose one of three price options and then the chef prepares edomae or traditional-style sushi. A meal begins with a glass of Krug champagne and each piece of sushi, be it an appetizer, sashimi, or nigiri, comes out individually on antique Japanese dishware and pottery. The sushi is wildly fresh, innovative, and beyond scrumptious.
665 Townsend Street San Francisco, CA 94103
3 Roka Akor
Just underneath the Transamerica building on the corner of Montgomery and Jackson is Roka Akor. This large and airy restaurant features modern architecture and tables that wrap around an open kitchen with a traditional robata grill at its center. Roka Akor is the ideal spot for group dining when many different appetites must be appeased. Not only does the menu offer premium sashimi, and nigiri, but the selection of robata grilled meats is spectacular. The wagyu flat iron steak with maitake mushroom and egg yolk is one of the most buttery and interesting steak preparations we’ve ever eaten. Vegetarians will enjoy the Japanese mushroom rice hot pot that is topped with black truffles and the meat and seafood-free maki rolls that feature avocado, asparagus tempura, and Japanese herbs. Roka Akor also has a dark and sexy downstairs bar, so the party can continue with after dinner libations.
801 Montgomery Street San Francisco, CA 94133
A pioneer of the sustainable sushi movement, Tataki, on California Street near Divisadero, has been an old favorite for over nine years. The walls are yellow and the space is small, but what it lacks in style, it makes up for in cuisine. Start with a bowl of miso soup and plate of seaweed salad. These classic Japanese starters are on point and perfect for whetting your palate. Next order a sampler of nigiri and several of the tataki. You can’t go wrong with the tataki deluxe, a delectable platter of slightly seared, impeccably prepared pieces of fish that are paired with a variety of dipping sauces such as citrus aioli, yuzu reduction, and jalepeño ponzu. It’s worth noting that Tataki does not take reservations, so you may have to wait for a table.
2827 California Street San Francisco CA 94115
For a more happening upscale scene, Ozumo on the Embarcadero is your best bet. It’s sleek and chic with zen garden accents and a large 30-seat sushi bar. During happy hour the lounge area is crowded with young professionals sipping sake and Asian-inspired cocktails that incorporate interesting ingredients like lychee juice, black walnut bitters, and pomegranate shrub. With over 40 different bottles available by the glass, the sake list is one of the largest in the US. Now on to the food: Toro, white albacore, hamachi, sea bream, Spanish mackerel, and uni are just some of the fresh fish listed under sashimi. The rolls are equally diverse. There’s hamachi maki with cucumber, avocado, tempura flakes, jalapeño, and roasted garlic miso sauce; unagi, asparagus, and mango topped with salmon and avocado and spicy aioli; and classic California rolls.
161 Steuart Street San Francisco, CA 94105