Ino Sushi – Best damn Toro in SF

  Posted by - September 29, 2014 - $$ (20-50), NightTime, Restaurants, San Francisco

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!

You’ll thank me later (fingers crossed).

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.

Cute huh?

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 – $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!

Ino Sushi on Urbanspoon

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  • Tao Tao March 11, 2015 - 5:41 am Reply

    you should give tekka a try too but you gotta be patient on the wait!

    • CynEats March 11, 2015 - 9:18 am Reply

      Ooo, haven’t been. But thanks for the rec! Will put it on my foodie list :)

  • peter j. November 10, 2014 - 2:50 am Reply

    Well, I gave it a try. I know how fresh Uni can be, and how much the taste can fluctuate depending on how fresh it is. Although this was a pleasant experience, (VERY clean and authentic room) this was not the freshest sushi by far. I’ve had better, consistently, in the Wine Country. Go figure. Sushi Hana (Sebastopol) where you can get UNI for $2.25 per piece!, or Sushiko (Rohnert Park). In both places, it’s consistently fresh. I know. I’ve had it sub-par in SO many places in the bay area and elsewhere, and when it’s fresh, it knocks your socks off. Ino Sushi, was not that. By the way, there is no problem with the Chef. We got smiles from him, and the 2 seperate waitresses (we went 2 nights), are completely adorable. Received the kindest smile and bow from the white haired waitress, went we replied that we were finished ordering for the night.mThe bill was 148 (not including tip for 2 people).

    • CynEats November 10, 2014 - 3:20 am Reply

      $2.25 a piece?? That’s awesome! If i’m ever in Wine Country, I’ll be sure to check out your recommendations :) While I also agree that Ino isn’t the best I’ve ever had in my lifetime, it’s pretty darn good for SF! I’m glad to hear you’ve had pleasant experience with Ino himself. Perhaps one day, (should I be so lucky) i’ll also catch him in a good mood :)

  • Kim October 7, 2014 - 12:23 am Reply

    Have you tried Saru Sushi yet? It is amazing and their omakase is a great deal as well! Oh, and the akamutsu is life changing. Seriously.

    Also if you’re wanting to splurge there’s always Akiko’s Restaurant on Bush (not to be confused with Akiko’s sushi bar) which has amazing sushi as well. They also carry hokkaido and russian uni!

    • CynEats October 7, 2014 - 6:16 pm Reply

      Yes, I’ve been to both Saru and Akiko’s! Akiko’s is one of my favs and has awesome quality sashimi (just a tad bit pricier!)

      I haven’t had the omakase at Saru, so I’ll def try it out! Thanks for the tip :)

  • Catherine October 4, 2014 - 5:58 pm Reply

    Ino is great for the omakase (chefs tasting). Despite the negative Yelp reviews, the chef was a delightful man smiling and super attentive to our needs. We pay $60 per person, so it definitely was a great deal for such high quality fish!

  • Henry T. October 2, 2014 - 7:04 pm Reply

    Love this place! Best sushi in town. Ino’s not so bad if you try to start a conversation with him. Although he is a man of few words.

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  • Dan September 30, 2014 - 6:23 pm Reply

    WOW. That toro does look good! Looks like I know where I’m going for dinner! Thanks :)

  • Vicky Nguyen September 30, 2014 - 5:59 pm Reply

    This is a great place for authentic sushi lovers like myself. The chef is fine as long as you’re not a big douche! Just be nice and polite and you’re in for one heck of a treat.

  • Rodney September 29, 2014 - 12:45 pm Reply

    Haha, Yes. Ino isn’t the friendliest guy you’ll meet, but sometimes you gotta roll with the punches! His quality and dedication to his craft is amazing! Definitely one of my favorite sushi restaurants in the city.

  • Marc September 29, 2014 - 1:55 am Reply

    Definitely not the place for sake bombs, but Ino is about as good as it gets!

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