I’m currently battling the intense desire to go back to Ino Sushi in San Francisco.
Thank god I’m writing this on a Monday afternoon.
They are closed… phew, or else I’ll be another $150 poorer by tonight.
Like. I’ve already been there twice in 4 four days and I’m trying to NOT getting merc poisoning before 25. Or maybe it’s worth it, because it’s my version of heaven.
So pretty much, I’m a huge sushi lover, and lemme tell yah… I’ve been on the search for a bomb sushi restaurant in SF since day 1.
I’m not talking about California rolls, sake bombs, or fish drowning in gross mayo to hide the unfreshness. I’m talking about the freshest of fish, perfectly prepared rice, and a true sushi chef who knows his craft.
After searching near and far… I think I’ve finally found it!
Ok- so before I get into how amazing the sushi quality is, let’s dive into what to expect here.
Why? Because. Let’s just say you’ll either have an awesome time OR a really shitty time (esp if you’re feelings get hurt easily).
Hmm… THINK of dining at Ino, like going to your girlfriend’s or boyfriend’s parents house for the first time. Be courteous, polite, and limit your cell phone usage. Otherwise… you might get called out for being rude!
The restaurant is a tiny, intimate and authentic sushi joint run by a traditional sushi chef for over 35 years- Ino himself.
Ino is notoriously known for being a grumpy old man. But as long as you remember your table manners and abide by his unspoken traditional rules, you’ll have one of the best sushi experiences of your life. I still remember my first time here, he gave me the death stare when I ignored his “NO CELLPHONE” sign and took a ton of food pics to write this post.
Tip: Don’t make ANY eye contact when doing so.
Then I told him “I really.really.really liked your toro!”- and I caught a slight smile. At least, I think it was a smile- or maybe it was a smirk.
How it works:
If you find yourself lucky enough to sit at the bar, you’ll notice a quiet and meditative sushi chef, who’s lightening fast with all sushi orders. When Ino is ready to take your order, he will throw the ginger in front of you and look your way. Nope, there is no plate, no board, the bar is your plate (like something you’d only experience in Japan).
Ps: don’t bother yelling for his attention… that comes off as rude ESP in Asian culture.
If you’re sitting at one of the four tables, the experience is not quite the same. However, you will get the same quality fish and you’ll be ordering from a cute elderly woman (maybe his wife?).
Side: she reminded me of my grandma when she said “eat your vegetables,” when I didn’t finish the garnishes that came with the sushi.
Now let’s move on to the good stuff: the freshest of the fresh.
Ino is a perfectionist and you can be sure he only serves the best quality fish to all his customers.
Here’s what I ordered:
(PS: All pics are NOT enhanced so you can see the quality of the fish)
The best damn toro in SF. Ummm, DO YOU SEE THAT?! That’s perfection. Seriously tho, this fatty tuna is like eating butter. It’s the best part of the fish and the whole thing just melts in your mouth. Yes, it’s a bit pricey. But trust me, it’s worth every dollar. (Market Price)
This Hotate. OMG. These live scallops are meaty, firm and oh.so.creamy. – $6
This uni. Is a melt in your mouth type of deliciousness. I die. (Market Price)
This Kanpachi (yellowtail). Ohh Mahh Gahh. So freaking good and fresh and firm. Can my life get any better right now? Seriously. (Market Price)
This salmon sashimi. It’s official. I’m in heaven. The salmon also practically melted and you can taste the freshness with each bite.
1. Omakase. If you order the omakase (chef’s choice), Ino will not stop putting sushi in front of you until you’re so damn full, it hurts (~75 per person).
2. He loads a ton of fresh wasabi on each piece of sushi, so mention that you want light wasabi or none at all.
3. Make a reservation and be on time. The place gets packed.
4. $30 minimum per person if you sit at a bar or $20 minimum per person at the table. But if you’re a sushi lover, your bill will run way over in a matter of minutes.
5. The restaurant is located inside the East Mall of the Japanese Peace Plaza.
6. Toro, toro, toro, it’s the best in San Francisco. You GOTTA try it.
PS: Ever since moving back to San Francisco, I’ve been disappointed by every 4-5 yelp star rated, so-called “best Japanese restaurant”, serving low grade sashimi.
If you come to Ino Sushi, you won’t be sorry!