Archive for the ‘SF: Hayes Valley/Civic Center’ Category

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Izakaya Sundays at Sebo

November 12, 2007

Well over a year ago, I wrote a post on a then recently-opened Japanese restaurant (primarily sushi-focused), Sebo in Hayes Valley. I haven’t had the chance to write a follow-up review, but I’m happy to report that an update has not really been necessary, as chefs Michael Black and Danny Dunham continue to offer excellent quality fish; in time, it seems they have been able to source more frequently particularly delectable items such as Hokkaido uni. In the past week, though, changes have been afoot at Sebo, and these changes warrant an update. The first notable change is that Fukashi Adachi from Deep Sushi in outer Noe Valley has joined the ranks. The other notable change is that the restaurant is now open on Sundays (previously only open Tuesday through Saturday). On Sundays, however, no sushi is served. As proof, here is the empty fish cabinet:

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Instead, the regular menu is replaced by a list of about 15 izakaya small plates — essentially Japanese “bar bites.” The Sunday izakaya menu will change weekly, and yesterday was the very first Sunday serving. (Note: full-sized versions of all these images are stored on my Flickr account. To see the larger version, just click through any image link.)

The first plate was the delicately flavored ni-daikon,

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which was the daikon simmered in sake. There was also the goya chanpuru, a stir fry of Okinawan bittermelon:

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One standout item was the aji ichiyaboshi,

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a whole horse mackerel fish: cured, toasted, butterflied, and mostly completely edible. Toasting amplified the natural flavors of the fish, and the thin, crisp skin was a nice foil to the moist interior flesh. Another standout dish was the inari yaki:

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The inari wrappers were filled with natto (fermented soybeans), grilled, and topped with green onion. Even if you are squeamish about eating natto, I would recommend trying this dish, as the grilled wrapper was a really nice complement to the more pungent natto.

One of the great highlights of the meal was the homemade tamago yaki (Japanese egg omelette). Most sushi restaurants will serve tamago nigiri, but this can often be lackluster. The process of making the omelette is so time-consuming that few restaurants will make it in-house, so was a real treat to try not one but two homemade tamago samples at the Sunday izakaya meal, courtesy of Fukashi Adachi:

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These blocks of tamago are a work of art, as I am told that they emerged from cooking exactly in the perfect form you see in the above picture. The block on the left is an omelette infused with slivers of the green seaweed ao-nori, while the flavor of the block on the right literally sang of dashi. Both samples were delicious, complex, and had a very nice texture: firm, but with a latent juiciness. This is easily some of the best tamago currently being served in the Bay Area. Here is a close-up shot of the ao-nori tamago:

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And once more, the tamago, but served on a plate:

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Yesterday was the very first izakaya Sunday and the restaurant was, rather surprisingly, packed for much of the night, so the cooking pace was rather frantic. However, I am sure that Michael, Danny, and Fukashi will work out the operational acrobatics in time. Even on this first day, the dishes were really nice, so I am looking forward to seeing this new tradition evolve and mature. With the izakaya Sundays, Michael and Danny have continued to demonstrate their passion for serving their customers a serious, high-quality product.

RATING:

COST:

517 Hayes Street (between Octavia St. and Laguna St.)
San Francisco, CA 94102
Phone: 415.864.2122
Hours: Tues-Sat (sushi menu), 6:00-10:30 pm; Sun (izakaya menu, no sushi), 6:00-11:00 pm.

Cuisine: Japanese
Neighborhood: Hayes Valley/Civic Center

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Sushi Delight

June 19, 2007

The other night, Short Exact and a friend were on the escalator leaving Church Street station on the hunt for dinner, when our friend revealed that we would be eating at her new favorite sushi bar. At that point, Short Exact groaned both inwardly and outwardly, recalling a lackluster experience from the last time we went to her “new favorite sushi bar” (somewhere different at that time) — an opinion, it turned out, was formed exclusively on the basis of a few Yelp reviews, rather than any sort of personal experience. This time we were quick to make sure that a prior visit had occurred at some point.

When it was further revealed that the restaurant in question this time around was next door (and actually connected) to The Mint karaoke bar, and that it had the somewhat corny name Sushi Delight (rather than having a name which is, you know, Japanese or something) — well, suffice it to say that of all the emotions we were feeling at that moment, delight was nowhere on the list.

So imagine our surprise when we walked in to find a white board list of specials that included items such as uni (sea urchin) and ankimo (monkfish liver). Not that these items are particularly rare, but seeing as how this restaurant also has a long list of huge Americanized rolls with “crazy” ingredients, we were expecting lots of fusion, and not as much in the way of our favorite, more traditional items. It was, of course, necessary to try out a few of these specials:

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The hamachi belly (middle, in the above photo) was pretty good quality with a somewhat buttery texture, but it should have had a stronger flavor. The mound of sushi rice on which the fish slice rested was too large, and the rice itself was not very flavorful, and did little to support or complement the fish. An uninteresting sort of ponzu sauce largely overpowered the mild ankimo (on the right), but the liver did have a reasonably nice, creamy texture. The uni (on the left) also had a pretty good texture, but only brief wisps of uni’s characteristically briny flavor. Not a bad sample, though, and best of all, it was not the least bit bitter, which is the usual worry when ordering uni at an unfamiliar restaurant. So, while none of these special items were stunning, they were all of at least decent quality, and as we said earlier, finding them at all was a pleasant surprise.

We also tried the maguro sashimi,

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which, despite the attempt at a slightly creative presentation, was completely unremarkable; the fish was tasteless and was served too cold. For kicks, we sampled one item from the extensive roll menu,

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the “gari saba” roll, consisting of mackerel, ginger, and a little scallion. This was a pretty good roll, but the mackerel was unusually sweet, and the overall flavor of the roll turned out to be surprisingly mild, considerings its core ingredients, perhaps in part due to the outer layer of the rice, which was disproportionately thick. It wasn’t bad, but we probably wouldn’t order it again. (Readers should also note that this is one of the more conservative rolls on the menu. If you’re interested in the more complicated rolls with lots of ingredients, Sushi Delight has plenty of those you can try.)

Service here was fine, although the restaurant was not that full, so we’re not sure how the service holds up under pressure. Still, the number of patrons can be deceiving, because it looks like quite a few people from the karaoke bar next door also put in orders, even if they do not sit in the actual restaurant. The karaoke bar The Mint, which is connected to the restaurant by a door, is a little noisy, but not horribly so; the soundproofing still makes it easy to have a conversation. The restaurant’s late hours are definitely a plus.

Sushi Delight is in a location such that the exact classification of the neighborhood largely depends on who you ask. Upper Market for sure, but is it Hayes Valley? Essentially, but not especially close to the heart of that neighborhood. Duboce Triangle? Close, but it seems just outside of the traditional boundaries of the Triangle. We’ve filed this post in those two neighborhoods, figuring that this restaurant might be of interest to people in both locales. Whatever you call the neighborhood, Sushi Delight is a decent neighborhood joint. For us, it would be a stretch to call it delightful, but it’s a good choice if you’re in the area with a hankering for sushi.

RATING:

COST:

1946 Market Street (between Buchanan St. and Laguna St.)
San Francisco, CA 94102
Phone: 415.621.3622
Hours: Sun-Thurs, 5:00 pm – 11:00 pm; Fri-Sat, 5:00 pm – 12:30 am.

Credit cards accepted. Takeout available.

Cuisine: Japanese
Neighborhood: Hayes Valley/Civic Center, Castro/Duboce Triangle

How to get there: Within a few blocks are Muni lines 6, 7, 22, 37, 71, F, J, N. Church Station (lines K, L, M, T) is a short walk away.

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Larkin Express Deli

May 31, 2007

Short Exact has been terribly busy lately (which explains the lack of posts recently), but Larkin Express Deli — a restaurant located (funnily enough) on Larkin Street, in the shadow of the old Federal Building on the Tenderloin/Civic Center border — is a restaurant we’ve been meaning to write about for several weeks now, and we didn’t want to wait on this any longer, since it’s a special sort of spot. On the surface, it looks unremarkable, like any standard deli,

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and the generic name “Larkin Express Deli” does nothing to discourage that notion. Yet, nothing could be further from the truth. In reality, Larkin Express Deli has a bit of a split personality. If you click on the above image and enlarge it in Flickr, the menu written on the chalkboard looks like a fairly standard American deli menu, including a variety of burgers, meat plates, and sandwiches (such as turkey, chicken, meatball, roast beef, pastrami, reuben, and others). However, lurking beneath the surface of this seemingly commonplace deli is a second menu, consisting of several authentic Burmese specialties — including such favorite, classic dishes as the catfish chowder moh hinga, the tea leaf and ginger salads, and the chicken coconut soup ong noh kau swer. Note: we have not ordered any of the American deli fare, only the Burmese dishes, so this review is based exclusively on the Burmese food, and this post has only been filed away in the Burmese cuisine category.

On a recent visit, we ordered the chicken coconut soup,

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and it was a delight. The noodles were perhaps a touch softer than we would have liked, but they were still pleasantly chewy (not the least bit mushy), and they thoroughly absorbed the flavors of the soup. The soup base was a deliciously layered and well balanced mix of curry and coconut milk, with a deep underlying chicken flavor from the stock. Chunks of tender, moist, flavorful dark meat chicken were scattered throughout the soup, and the fried peas added crunch and an additional flavor dimension. Considering the very reasonable price ($5.50, at the time of this post) for this generous portion of soup, the garnish of fried peas and fresh cilantro was unexpected, but very much appreciated.

We also ordered one of our favorite Burmese standards, the tea leaf salad (la pat dok), to go. We sort of mumbled in passing that we would probably end up trying a bit of the salad in the restaurant, just as a sample, and we expected to simply take a bite or two out of a to-go container. Imagine our surprise when a small portion was served on a plate,

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a plate that was even green to match the hue of the green tea leaves that are the centerpiece of this dish. This was a simple gesture, but it helps to demonstrate the genuine and thorough service here, which was all the more unexpected because the words “express” and “deli” in the restaurant name do not immediately suggest that there should be good service, or even any service at all.

Of course, the portion of salad in the above picture is just a small fraction of the much larger full portion. This dish was a touch oily, but it contained a delicious mixture of textures and flavors, with numerous ingredients, including garlic, peanuts, split peas, sesame seeds, wedges of tomato, and the namesake tea leaves. The centerpiece of this dish is, of course, the tea leaves, which feature a wonderfully strong, pungent flavor that is complemented well by the other milder ingredients. No corners were cut, as these tea leaves were imported straight from Myanmar. Notably, the la pat dok does not include any Western salad greens (which less traditional versions of this dish will sometimes use, perhaps to make it appear more salad-like to Americans), and the fact that the tea leaves are the only greens present helps to emphasize their role in the salad. When all is said and done, the la pat dok is a lovely, flavorful mixture.

Visiting this restaurant was a great experience. We dropped by later in the afternoon, when we were one of few customers, and this gave us the chance to chat with Dennis, the owner, for quite awhile. (Dennis also runs the Tennessee Grill restaurant, out on Taraval, which we have not visited. Unfortunately, there is no Burmese food to be found there!) Our chat not only revealed what a genuinely friendly person Dennis is, but also the care and effort which has gone into crafting the Burmese side of the menu. While the American half of the menu is a legacy of the previous owners (and, we imagine, the sandwiches and burgers are probably popular at lunchtime for office workers in the area), the Burmese half of the menu is a labor of love, in which Dennis showcases the cuisine of his native country, and the time and care that is put into these authentic home-cooked Burmese dishes shine through clearly. Combined with the kind and caring service, this restaurant has all the homey comfort that one might experience eating in a friend’s kitchen.

For Burmese east of Divisadero Street, look no further than Larkin Express Deli.

RATING:

COST:

452 Larkin Street (between Golden Gate Ave. and Turk St.)
San Francisco, CA 94102
Phone: 415.474.5569
Hours: Mon-Fri, 10:00 am – 7:00 pm.

Cuisine: Burmese
Neighborhood: Tenderloin, Hayes Valley/Civic Center

How to get there: Muni lines 5, 19, 21, 31, 38, 47 and 49. The restaurant is 4-5 blocks from lines 6, 7, 9, 71, F, J, K, L, M, N, and T (Civic Center BART/Muni station).

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Hayes & Kebab

April 16, 2007

Hayes & Kebab is a relatively recent addition to the restaurant scene in Hayes Valley. Of course, it offers Middle Eastern fare — a more or less standard collection of items: mainly gyros, kebabs, and a handful of sides such as hummus, tabouleh, and baba ghanoush. They also offer full entree plates (featuring a kebab and a side dish), as well as some specials, posted on the board right outside the front door.

In terms of the menu, this is a fairly standard gyro and kebab joint. However, in terms of the decor, it is definitely not standard. Hayes & Kebab is located right on the edge of the increasingly fashionable corner of Hayes and Gough, and it looks like the owners have decided that such a chic address required chic decor. Okay, maybe the decor isn’t exactly chic, but compared to your standard kebab joint, it’s quite an upgrade. Decorations are draped around the room, along with several framed pictures; there is some nice wooden furniture, and the seating area is actually a pleasant place to linger. Prices here are somewhat higher than expected (it’s part of the “Hayes Valley experience,” right?), but it is still a more inexpensive alternative to the upscale joints in this area, such as Absinthe and Jardiniere.

Anyway, the room here is nice, but the main question here is: did the food deliver? We ordered an adana kebab wrap:

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One quick glance at this photo tells you that not only has Hayes & Kebab has upgraded the restaurant decor, but it has also upgraded the plating. To be honest, we find it borderline ridiculous that we are even using the word “plating” in the context of a kebab joint, but there’s a first for everything. Although it sports a foil wrap, our adana kebab sandwich had been sliced on a bias and arranged attractively; the plate had even been sprinkled with parsley. Usually, doing a review for a burrito or gyro type place requires that we cut the wrap in half first before taking a picture, but in this case, Hayes & Kebab did the work for us.

Having said that, we would have preferred more attention be spent on the cooking, and less on the plating. The wrap was acceptable, but not great. The vegetables were crisp and fresh; however, the spicing of the meat needed a considerable extra dose of strength and pizzazz. The wrap was also somewhat dry, and the tahini sauce used on the wrap tasted watered down, so that the sandwich lacked a really nice flavor depth. The sandwich should also have been served with warmer bread. We did not get an opportunity to try the hummus, but from what we could tell by glancing at neighboring plates, it looked to be pretty good. Obviously, we cannot vouch for taste, but the hummus looked to have a somewhat dense consistency, and it was properly garnished with olive oil, sprinked parsley, and paprika.

One note is that the service at Hayes & Kebab, while friendly, is definitely on the slow side. It took 17 minutes for our wrap to be delivered to the table (yes, we timed it), which is pretty slow for a kebab joint, especially considering that the restaurant was not that full, and the only item we ordered was a wrap.

All in all, the food here, based on our one sampling, seems to be okay, but not noteworthy. We certainly wouldn’t make a special trek here — since the dressed-up Hayes Valley decor doesn’t really do much for us, personally — but we might stop in again for a bite before a concert, especially since this increasingly upscale neighborhood does not really have a plethora of “cheap eats.”

RATING:

COST:

406 Hayes Street (between Gough St. and Octavia St.)
San Francisco, CA 94102
Phone: 415.861.2977
Hours: Sun-Thurs, 11:00 am – 10:00 pm; Fri-Sat, 11:00 am – 11:00 pm.

Cuisine: Middle Eastern
Neighborhood: Hayes Valley/Civic Center

How to get there: Muni lines 5, 6, 7, 21, 47, 49, 71, F, J, K, L, M, N, and T. Closest underground stations are the Muni Van Ness station (4 blocks away) and BART/Muni Civic Center station (5-6 blocks away).

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Sauce

August 13, 2006

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Sauce is a cool, comfortably hip restaurant (with a joint bar) on the southern edge of the ever-gentrifying Hayes Valley. Although the immediate vicinity of Sauce has not seen the kind of transformation that Hayes Street proper has, change is on the way, as they are already constructing some new condominiums just down the street. Sauce specializes in gourmet, upgraded versions of what is essentially American comfort food. For example, the menu features a “mac and cheese” dish with a four cheese sauce (we believe it’s the same four cheese sauce we’ll discuss just a little later) that has asparagus and roasted chicken. There is also a bacon-wrapped meatloaf, and another dish which is essentially just steak, eggs, and potatoes, but upgraded with smoked sea salt and a chipotle Hollandaise. This comfort food theme carries over into the dessert menu, which, among other things, features a PB & J dessert, chocolate chip pancakes, a Guinness milkshake, and various incarnations of ice cream and doughnuts. Upon finishing our meal, Short Exact was too full to try any of these desserts (though we were tempted by the chocolate chip pancakes). However, as you’ll find out if you keep reading, the food itself was actually less than stellar, so perhaps going to Sauce for a drink and a dessert (and skipping the main menu altogether) might not be such a bad idea.

The food may not have been stellar, but the service was actually quite good: warm and courteous, and very accommodating, given the fact that Short Exact was dining solo on this particular evening. Sauce of course has appetizers, but the portions are larger than a standard appetizer, and rather than calling them appetizers, they are called “social plates”: they are meant to be shared. Since we had no dining companion this time, our server, without any prompt, first offered a half-order in case a full social plate was too much. Short Exact was not terribly hungry at the time, and we most certainly appreciated this offer. A little later, though, upon hearing that we were stuck deciding between two of the appetizers, our server then offered even smaller portions of each, so that we could try both, while still having a reasonably-sized total portion. When our appetizer arrived, we saw that we were given 1/3 of each of the dishes (i.e. 2 pieces each). And sure enough, when the bill arrived, we were charged for 1/3 of each appetizer, with no extra charge. We thought this was a very nice touch.

The one faulty point in the evening was that our server neglected to stop by in the middle of the meal to see if we enjoyed it, or if we needed anything. But we can’t fault her too much for this because she did a really good job for the rest of the night, and as essentially the only server for the entire room, she was rather busy. In addition, our server was (or at least put on a good face of being) so enthusiastic about being there, and about the menu, and that, in turn, made me more excited about the meal as well. The fact that we became somewhat less excited once actually tasting the food is the story for the rest of this review.

So now: the food. We’ll start with our smaller versions of two of the social plates:

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In the background of the above picture lie two fresh, rather plump sesame shrimp that were fried in Panko bread crumbs. The shrimp were served with a sweet and lightly spicy garlic chili sauce, which had a delayed bite, and an all-around nice flavor; it was a good complement to the shrimp. In the foreground are two Dungeness crab wontons with cream cheese. The wontons taken alone, without any sauce, were actually on the bland side, despite the crab and the cream cheese. So some sauce here actually was required, but we remain unconvinced that the orange-mango reduction that the wontons were served with was the right choice. To some extent, this sauce overpowered the crab, and it certainly did not enhance any of the wonton’s flavors. At various stages of chewing, we had some orange, mango, cream cheese, and crab tastes floating around our mouth, but at no point did these combine in any convincing way. The sauce was needed to unify the dish, and that didn’t really happen.

For our entree, Short Exact ordered the vegetarian strudel,

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which featured a Portabello mushroom duxelle, tomato, asparagus, spinach, a blend of four cheeses (parmesan, mozzarella, provolone, and asiago) with herbs, all wrapped up in a Phyllo pastry, and served with a roasted tomato sauce. Once again, as with the wonton social plate, we found the sauce to be the weakest aspect of this dish: it overpowered not only the asparagus, but also the subtle earthiness of the Portabello mushroom.

In some sense, this dish is a second generation spanakopita, and at its core lie the spinach, herbs, and the four-cheese blend mentioned above. On certain bites of the strudel, we were able to taste “cross sections” of the contents of the Phyllo pouch, without the roasted tomato sauce — in particular, the spinach and the four cheeses — and when these flavors were allowed to shine, they were actually quite nice. Somehow, though, the dish never came together as a whole, and the roasted tomato sauce not only overpowered the rest of the dish, but it did not have a flavor complementary to those found in the interior of the strudel.

We think that Sauce has potential, and while the kitchen has some interesting ideas on how to upgrade and gourmet-ify American comfort food favorites, the dishes don’t always turn out as well as we had envisioned prior to tasting them. Having said that, we aren’t willing to entirely write it off. We’d be willing to return to test out a different assortment of dishes and observe how those are executed. One important point here is that most of Sauce’s entrees are not vegetarian, but are decidedly carnivorous in nature. Now, since standard American comfort food, on the whole, tends to also be more meat-oriented, it seems reasonable that perhaps Sauce’s more carnivorous dishes fare better than the dishes we ordered; after all, the food Short Exact ordered doesn’t really fall into the category of American comfort food. Nonetheless, they only offer half a dozen entrees, and at the prices they are charging, they really ought to be able to turn out a good product for all the entrees, not just the meatier ones. Another quirk of this restaurant to keep in mind is that certain ingredients run through the menu and appear in multiple dishes: for example, the four-cheese blend from our vegetarian strudel. This is not necessarily a bad thing, and while it lends cohesion to the menu, it’s definitely something to keep in mind when structuring your meal, so that you don’t overload your palate with too much of the same flavor.

In the end, Short Exact is perhaps most irked by the name of this restaurant. If a restaurant chooses to name itself after a particular ingredient or aspect of food, it really behooves the kitchen to make absolutely sure it excels in its presentation of that ingredient. In this respect, Sauce falls short, as the sauces we experienced were definite weak points that tended to detract from the dishes they were associated with, rather than enhance them.

Is this a horrible restaurant? Certainly not, and if you come, you’re bound to have at least a decent meal. We just wish the restaurant were a bit saucier.

RATING:

COST:

131 Gough Street (at Lily St., between Oak St. and Page St.)
San Francisco, CA 94102
Phone: 415.252.1369
Hours: Daily, 5:00 pm – 12 midnight. The bar stays open until 2:00 am.

Cuisine: American (New), California
Neighborhood: Hayes Valley/Civic Center

How to get there: Sauce is conveniently located within a few blocks of Muni lines 6, 7, 21, 47, 49, 71, F, J, K, L, M, N, and T, and is a mere 2-3 blocks from the Van Ness Muni subway station. For BART riders, the closest station is Civic Center, which is about 5-6 blocks from Sauce.

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Sebo

July 14, 2006

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A couple of months ago, a true neighborhood gem set up shop in Hayes Valley. Chef-owners Danny Dunham and Michael Black (formerly of Midori Mushi) have an extensive knowledge of and a clear passion for fish, which they share with diners at their new restaurant, Sebo, by giving us a chance to experience some of the freshest fish to set foot (metaphorically speaking) in San Francisco.

All of the dishes they create demonstrate a keen eye for beautiful presentation, with careful attention paid to the details. Here is the lovely seasonal assortment of sashimi with which we began our meal:

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A great deal of the fish at Sebo is flown in from all over the world (much of it from Japan), but some of it is from fresh local stock, as well. The evening we went, they had a wonderfully deep, rich hon maguro from Italy, which was also the source of the ootoro we ordered:

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Every piece of nigiri was fresh and pristine. The cuts were fine and delicate, and the sushi rice was very nicely prepared: an excellent complement to the fish. But the hon maguro ootoro was one of the most memorable moments of the evening. The bite we took to consume this piece of sushi ranks as one of the most magnificent single bites we’ve ever tasted. This fish was so rich and buttery (which is, of course, a hallmark of ootoro), but we were most impressed by the waves of flavor. Just after initially taking the bite, you are treated to the buttery flavor, but even as you continue to chew the fish, move it around in your mouth, and swallow it, this initial wave of flavor is followed up other distinct waves: we think we counted four. The effect is rich and long-lasting, even compared to other ootoro we’ve had in the past. Short Exact also had a deliciously prepared ankimo. Very often, ankimo preparations involve merely a bit of pre-made monkfish liver on rice, a splash of ponzu, and then a nori wrap; but we were delighted to find that at Sebo, slices of poached ankimo are served atop the rice. Though we would have preferred slightly firmer ankimo, this is a real treat, and much better than what one typically finds. The uni (from Mendocino) was wonderfully textured, and the buri (aged yellowtail) subtle. The hirame wrapped in shiso was also pristine and delicious. Hirame has a subtle flavor, and there is a little time delay factor while your taste buds discover that flavor. At the very beginning of the bite, the shiso sets the stage, but after a small delay, the shiso and hirame meld effortlessly; the effect is quite refreshing.

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The high level of freshness set by our earlier selections was maintained, as we finished our meal with shimaaji, kohada, and mirugai:

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At least, we thought we were finished. As it turns out, Danny had a special surprise in store for us. He made an additional item, on the house, which is one of the most delicious and unique pieces of sushi we’ve ever tasted:

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This piece combines ankimo with chutoro tartare. We’ve never had these two together in the same bite, but the effect created by these two very distinct flavors combining and playing off of each other was amazing. As is clear from the above commentary, most of our meal at Sebo consisted of nigiri options. However, Sebo also offers maki and some more creative plates, which Short Exact did not have the opportunity to try. Looking at the flavor combinations on the menu though, and using our imagination, these dishes look to have a lot of potential, and they would probably give Michael and Danny more chance to show off their beautiful preparations than just straight-up nigiri. Short Exact is excited to try them on our next visit.

As we hope our above review clarifies, the emphasis at Sebo is on serving fresh fish with pure, mostly traditional preparations. You don’t want to come here searching for California rolls and fusion sushi, because you won’t find them.

Sebo is really a neighborhood gem, and not just because of their high quality product. The restaurant is also just an incredibly relaxing place to be, in the way that only a truly neighborhood spot can, and it has a sleek, modern interior:

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More important is the tone that Danny and Michael have set for the place. We spent about 2 hours dining here, and not only did we never once feel rushed to leave, but we hardly even noticed the time pass. While Danny and Michael carefully coax fish into impeccable morsels of sushi, they share facts, anecdotes, and stories with the diners at the sushi bar. They’re very friendly and have plenty of interesting tidbits to share with you about their art, which they clearly love. The relaxed, comfortable atmosphere, combined with the high quality of the sushi, make this a winning spot. Short Exact is already eagerly anticipating our next visit.

RATING:

COST:

517 Hayes Street (between Octavia St. and Laguna St.)
San Francisco, CA 94102
Phone: 415.864.2122
Hours: Tues-Sat (sushi menu), 6:00-10:30 pm; Sun (izakaya menu, no sushi), 6:00-11:00 pm.

Cuisine: Japanese
Neighborhood: Hayes Valley/Civic Center

How to get there: Sebo is directly served by Muni line 21, and is within walking distance of lines 5, 6, 7, 47, 49, 71, F, J, K, L, M, N, and T. Closest underground stations are the Muni Van Ness Station (5 blocks away) and BART/Muni Civic Center Station (6-7 blocks away).