With my recent move back to SF, it’s been quite a challenge to find an authentic sushi restaurant in San Francisco. Over the course of the years, I’ve learned that Japanese cuisine should be a fun dining experience where you can joke around with the sushi chefs, make concoctions of your favorite flavors, and order as go at the sushi bar.
Before, when I thought of my favorite sushi restaurants, I thought of places with really really bomb rolls.
Shortly after, I realized 3 things they both have in common: great service, freshness of the fish, and a very very small selection of sushi rolls.
Daigo Sushi in San Francisco is a worthy outlier.
Tucked away in outer Richmond, sits this tiny little gem with some of the freshest sashimi you’ll ever find in the Bay Area. With rent prices being so outrageously high in SF, I’m glad we ventured out from the 7×7 grid in the city. They have a small restaurant that seats six people at the sushi bar, and a total of 7 tables.
Whenever I go to a new sushi restaurant. I’ll test their Salmon & Hamachi for “freshness.” Both are pretty standard and are hard to mess up.
If you can’t tell that it’s not fresh, it’s not worth going to anymore.
First off, it should never be “fishy” tasting or smelly.
Second, it should never be stringy.
Here’s what it should look like:
(photos are NOT enhanced so you can see the quality of the fish)
Salmon & Hamachi
Hotate “fresh scallops”
Hamachi Carpaccio (yellowtail)
with jalapeno, onion, and garlic ponzu sauce
This dish isn’t “authentic” but it’s damn good and I get it every time!
OK. This has got to be one of best shots I’ve ever had.
They use finely diced hamachi, chopped onion, raw quail egg yolk, crispy rice balls (crumbs),
sliver of avocado, pinch of fish eggs as garnish, and truffle ponzu. YUM!
Sweet Shrimp “amaebi”
In order to preserve freshness, the chef prepares the shrimp by defrosting and running it through water. He then meticulously washes and dries the shrimp till it’s ready to eat.
Then you have the option of frying the shrimp heads or putting in a miso soup.
Lightly battered shrimp heads
Miso soup with shrimp
This was my first time trying this and it was recommended to me by the owner. The conversation began like this:
Me: What’s good today?
Owner: I noticed you don’t like anything with a strong fish taste, we have some really fresh halibut that you might enjoy.
Now that is some attentive service! and he was right.
I’ve been here about 7-9 times in the past 2 months and I LOVE the attentiveness of their servers. My cup of tea is never empty, and they have my sides of siracha & lemon wedges ready before my asking for it (it’s going to sound weird, but I really like eating sushi with siracha, tiny hint of lemon, and low sodium soy sauce).
Although there are places with really great sushi rolls, you shouldn’t judge a sushi restaurant by the quality of their rolls –> but by the freshness of their fish. If you’ve never experienced sitting at the sushi bar, talking to the sushi chefs, or ordering as you go- whatever you want, whenever you want. TRY IT!
Let me know how it goes!
PS: If anyone has a good recommendation for a sushi spot in SF… uhm what’re you waiting for? SPILL!