Cyn Eats guide to the BEST sushi in San Francisco

  Posted by - November 1, 2014 - CynEats Foodie Guide, Daytime, NightTime, Restaurants, San Francisco

I’m just obsessed with sushi.

Literally though.

Anyone with me?

Due to my obsession, I’ve been to some pretty awesome sushi restaurants in the city. Annddddd naturally, some pretty bad ones too. (unfortunately that’s just part of life lolz)

In my opinion, I think eating bad sushi should be kinda illegal… not to mention super nasty.

So. Whenever I’m craving sushi, I have my go-to spots for every occasion.

You know, the ones for a quick bite/ dinner/omakase/ date night/ family night/etc.

So here’s the Cyn Eats guide to sushi in San Francisco.

PS: Here’s the deal- I judge a sushi restaurant based on the quality of their fish= sashimi. Not by the craftsmanship of gross mayo & cream cheese filled sushi rolls. If you’re into that, then cool. But this post probably isn’t for you. The quality of fish will be judged on a scale of (1-5).

Pabu- 5

Pabu SF

Overview: Pabu kills it in every way. And while it’s on the more expensive end, you get what you pay for. This is the kind of place that has aged wagu beef, uni flown in straight from Japan, some of the best toro I’ve ever had, along with the best service and a never empty cup of water (or wine/sake).

Tip: You can either get a true omakase experience, or just order off the menu. Either way, you’ll be blown away by the quality in every dish. They have a bar area for drinks and the perfect date night ambiance. If you come here with a large group of friends, they have private rooms that can fit ~10 people.

Read More: Here!


Akikos- 4.5

Akikos sushi

Overview: It’s one of the best sushi restaurants in Union Square. They have a great variety of fresh sashimi, with well-versed sushi chefs behind the bar. Akiko’s is a great mix of traditional flare with a slight modern twist on sushi. This is the perfect place to impress a date, with a great dinner ambiance and friendly service.

Tip: There’s no sign on the door, so it’s easy to miss. You must make a reservation in advance to secure a table or bar seat.

Ino sushi- 5

Overview: This is an authentic Japanese sushi restaurant (probably closest to Jiro Dreams of Sushi), with the BEST toro in the city & great quality fish. This is a place for true connoisseurs who appreciate the art of sushi. Behind the bar, you’ll notice Ino himself- a quiet and meditative chef, who will only speak (sometimes yell) at you if you eat your sushi the wrong way, or if you disregard his “no cellphone” signs. 

Tip: 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. Must make a reservation. 

Read More: Here!

Daigo Sushi- 4.5

What fresh sashimi should look like

Overview: Tucked away in outer Richmond, sits this tiny little gem with some of the freshest sashimi you’ll ever find in the Bay Area. Its one of my FAV sushi spots in SF because I love a chill & unpretentious environment, with friendly service, and affordable prices (this is where you’ll find me in my lululemon stretchy pants).

Tip: The sushi chefs are super awesome and friendly. If you sit at the bar, you can ask them to “create” your own hand-roll .

Read More: Here!

Kusakabe- 5


Overview: This newly opened, up-scale sushi restaurant just kills it in every possible way: from service to quality to experience. Their omakase menu ($95)  is the best I’ve ever had in SF. Throughout the two hour meal, your sushi chef puts on a show- using techniques such as torching, smoking, and meticulous seasoning into every element of the omakase menu.

Tip: They just received a Michelin Star (10/21/14), so I’d recommend making a reservation ASAP before it becomes nearly impossible. Must get a seat at the bar. TRUST ME. 

Read More: Here!

Maruya- 3.5

Stringy sushi

Overview: Not sure how they were awarded a Michelin star this year, because this is one of the worst sushi experiences I’ve ever had (for a hefty price tag $500 for two people). Most of the sashimi we had that night was stringy and chewy (Uhm, no thanks!). Not to mention the sushi chef was super rude and wouldn’t let us order what we wanted. (seriously?)

Tip: Go to Kusakabe for a less pretentious environment. Their service is 100x better and their quality of fish puts Maruya to shame.

Read More: Here!

Ryokos- 3.5

Overview: It’s the perfect place for a late night sushi bite. It’s a chill, fun, date-night environment with loud music and even a live DJ on the weekends. The ambiance is great for a first date- you can practically let the music do all the talking (so there’s no awkward silence) and drinking is a must here.

Tip: Doesn’t close till 2 am. Put your name on the list and go to a bar. Typical wait is at least 35-50 min.

Roka Akor- 4

Overview: Roka Akor is your typical fancy Financial District spot. They serve decent sushi, but is also super expensive and overpriced. While the portions are smaller, everything is beautifully and artfully presented. In my opinion, you pay for the name more than the food.

Tip: Unless your rollling in the dough, don’t go here on an empty stomach.

Elephant sushi- 3.8

elephant sushi

Overview: Go here for a more Americanized- Japanese take on sushi. They do an excellent job of introducing new flavors and combinations to their dishes, such as adding truffle oil to their sashimi. It’s a good spot in Russian Hill for a fun date environment.

Tip: This isn’t the place for traditional sushi.

Sanraku- 3


Overview: While the quality of sushi is just alright, the restaurant does well by also tailoring to people who don’t eat raw fish. They have a good variety of food ranging from bento boxes (cooked foods) to nigiri to udon noodles.

Tip: It’s a decent place to bring family & kids. Make a reservation.

Saru Sushi Bar- 3.8


Overview: The sushi is good, but not great. The prices are overpriced for what you’re getting. In my opinion, there are way better options out there.

Tip: I’d rather so somewhere else. Any of the other places are a better choice (besides Maruya, which I wouldn’t recommend to anybody).

 To sum it all up…

For true sushi connoisseurs, go to: Kusakabe, Akikos, Ino Sushi

For a chill sushi spot + affordable prices + great quality sashimi, go to: Daigo Sushi

For an Americanized twist, go to: Elephant Sushi

For a late night sushi bite, go to: Ryokos

For an upscale & overpriced meal, go to: Roka Akor




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  • Teddy December 2, 2014 - 11:33 am Reply

    I just read your Izakaya Kou post and saw that you mentioned their sushi quality wasnt bad. I know that they are an Izakaya restaurant, but how do they compare to this list? Thanks in advance!

    • CynEats January 5, 2015 - 8:18 pm Reply

      Sorry for getting back to you so late! I’d say their quality is around 3.8. I think their fish is better than Sanraku and Ryokos.

  • Benny November 6, 2014 - 3:50 pm Reply

    Thanks for the read! Have you tried Koo or Wako? Wondering how they hold up against your list :)

    • CynEats November 13, 2014 - 6:35 pm Reply

      You’re welcome! I haven’t tried those yet. I heard Wako is pretty good, which I definitely need to try!

  • susy November 5, 2014 - 10:09 pm Reply

    Just curious, when was your visit to Maruya? The original chefs, Masa & Hide were fired. I was wondering if your visit was with the new sushi chef hence the sloppy work.

    • CynEats November 13, 2014 - 6:34 pm Reply

      hmm, my visit was a couple months ago. Perhaps they’re worthy of another visit in the future!

  • Katie November 4, 2014 - 6:30 pm Reply

    Thank for your recommendations. Have you been to Sushi Ran? It’s pretty good there too.

    • CynEats November 4, 2014 - 10:27 pm Reply

      I’ve also heard great things about them! I haven’t been since it’s all the way in Sausalito. If I ever make it out that way, it’s on the top of my list!

  • Marcus November 3, 2014 - 12:55 pm Reply

    It’s been hard for me to find a decent sushi spot in the city. Will have to give Ino and Kusakabe a try! Thanks so much!

  • Alexia November 1, 2014 - 8:27 pm Reply

    There are some on the list now that I really want to try. Thanks Cyneats!

  • Shelly November 1, 2014 - 12:13 pm Reply

    Thanks for the roundup, looks delish. Except for Maruya – just sounds awful! My friends are huge fans of Zushi Puzzle, have you tried??


    • CynEats November 3, 2014 - 4:54 am Reply

      No, I haven’t even heard of it! Thanks for the rec, will have to check it out :)

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