Back at Sushi Ran

During my last trip to San Francisco in early 2017, I once again enjoyed an amazingly awesome omakase style dinner at the sushi bar at Sushi Ran. I have been there a few times and still enjoyed it as much as every time I went there.

Sushi Ran - table setup
Sushi Ran – table setup

First, I started with a moriawase 1o piece sashimi platter with aaa grade big eye tuna, yellowtail, ocean trout, bonito and barracuda at two pieces each. Unfortunately, I didn’t take any pictures.


Omakase Sashimi

I opted for an 11 piece omakase sashimi plate after that and once again I was blown away. It came with uni (deep sea urchin), katsuo (cherrywood smoked bonito tuna), kamasu (barracuda), tennen hamachi (wild yellowtail), aji (horse mackerel), kusshi oyster, hotaru ika (baby firefly squid), kinmedai (golden eye snapper) and buri toro (wild yellowtail belly). This time I took some photos.


Omakase Nigiri

Since there was time for more, I switched to nigiri and tried some more of the sushi bar exclusives. I was served chu toro (medium fatty blue fin tuna belly), toro (fatty blue fin tuna belly), kasugodai (baby red snapper), kinmedia (golden eye snapper), kamasu (barracuda), mahatma (black grouper), buri toro (wild yellowtail belly), wagyu a5 beef striploin, shirayaki and unagi (two types of freshwater eel).

I never had black grouper before and liked it very much. The bluefin was also awesome, as was the barracuda. All in all it was as amazing as always.


I will surely be back next time I am in San Francisco.

For some reason I had more issues than usual with Japanese sushi terms and had to ask more than once about the variety of fish I could choose from. A few times I even had to take out my iPhone and look stuff up. That felt rather weird, considering I have been a rather frequent sushi eater. Also, it took far to long to find what I was looking for.

This is why I think I will come up with a chat bot to help me out next time. Wouldn’t you like that?

Sashimi Platter at Matsumi

Again I went to Matsumi some time ago, my absolute favourite Sushi restaurant in Hamburg, Germany. It is located in the Collonaden near to the Jungfernstieg at the inner Alster river and I highly recommend it for the most amazing sushi. I don’t know any better place.

Matsumi Restaurant

We got seats at the sushi bar and started out with some very nice side dishes and a sake kava temaki (grilled salmon skin hand roll), which is my absolute favourite hand roll at Matsumi. They are a little bit messy to eat but an absolute delight.

Matsumi - sake kava temaki
sake kava temaki

Afterwards we enjoyed an amazing sashimi platter with a huge variety of delicious fish. We had hamachi (yellowtail), maguro, medium fatty and fatty tuna (I think it was chu toro and toro), sake (salmon), hirame (halibut), ika (squid), tako (octopus), saba (mackerel), perch/zander (I am not sure about the Japanese name), ama ebi (sweet shrimp) and hotategai (scallop), aka gai (red clam) and mirugai (giant clam). To be honest, I am not quite sure about the last two mussels. Alongside the sushi platter there were two more side specialties, spicy ika (squid) and aji tataki (seared horse mackerel).

To make it short, the sashimi was all awesome, fresh and so delicious. I especially enjoyed the 3 varieties of tuna, the hamachi (yellowtail) and tako (octopus). Also I never hat hirame (halibut) at Matsumi before and really liked its smoothness. As always I also appreciated the mackerel, being on my long list of sashimi favourites.  Therefore I also really enjoyed the aji tataki (seared horse mackerel) It was refined with herbs, wasabi and soy sauce and was absolutely delicious.

I will be back for more…

P.S.: Sadly, Hideaki Morita, the head chef at Matsumi, fell terribly ill in autumn 2015. I miss him very much and wish him all the best for his recovery. I sincerely hope that he feels much better soon.

Sashimi at Toni’s Sushi Bar in Miami Beach

While in Miami for New Year’s Eve, I went to Toni’s Sushi Bar in Miami Beach for some Sashimi. As a party of two we went there with no reservation on December 31 2015 and got some nice seats at the sushi bar. It is a small restaurant with 50 seats at the most, centrally located. Operating since 1987, they claim to be the first sushi restaurant in Miami Beach. High Zagat ratings underline the ongoing success of the restaurant.

Toni's Sushi Bar

Sashimi & more

I started out with a grilled salmon skin handroll and opted for a deluxe sashimi platter and worked my way through the menu. I was really amazed by the quality and variety of the fish and the specials they seem to change on a daily basis. The platter came with maguro, hamachi, sake, cobia (which I never had before) and kanpachi. Since they had toro on the specials menu, I couldn’t resist and added some aji and tai. To finish things off, I enjoyed both an unagi and anago as nigiri.

I really enjoyed everything we had and can attest that Toni’s Sushi Bar is indeed great. The veggie tempura, gioza and miso soup was also very good. We enjoyed it so much, that we went a second time on the last day of our trip.

Amazing Sushi Bar Exclusives at Sushi Ran

On my trip to San Francisco in October 2015, I had to make my mandatory visit to Sushi Ran, my all time favourite Sushi Restaurant in Sausalito. According to Michael Bauer, it os one of the only 3 places to go for great sushi in the San Francisco Bay Area, leading the list for nearly 3 decades. This time I went twice, this being about the second visit… the most impressive sushi experience so far.

Sushi Ran - menu


 

 

Executive Chef Takatoshi Toshi

We went there a few days before and wanted to build on it, so we decided to go on a Friday night, the last night of our trip. As a group of 3 we were seated at the sushi bar and enjoyed the service of Sushi Ran’s executive chef, Mr. Takatoshi Toshi, their master chef since 2013. He recently won the US national championship title at the Global Sushi Challenge held in Chicago on May 17th 2015 and will represent the US in Tokyo, Japan on November 25th for the World Championship. A short video of Takatoshi Toshi at a Gala Evening in Israel is posted below.


 

Sashimi Platter

Anyway, on this day we decided to go with an omakase style sashimi menu and basically went from one gourmet explosion to the next. We went with sashimi because a) we don’t like rice that much and b) rice fills you up to quickly. Since we don’t have the change to be there often, we decided we would get the most out of taking everything as sashimi. We started out with a small sashimi platter with 2 pieces of king sake (king salmon), 2 pieces of hamachi (yellowtail), 2 pieces of hon maguro (kindai-tenku blue fin tuna), 2 pieces of ara (red spotted grouper with sea grapes) and 2 kusshi oysters with yuzu jelly. It’s basically the chef choices from seasonal items. It’s safe to say that king salmon, hon maguro and hamachi is most likely to be on the platter, but the chef adds on it with some specialties. We expecially enjoyed the oyster, which seemed a refreshing and not so common addition to the mix.


 

Sushi Bar Exclusives and more

After that we went to single dish menu style, watching every dish being prepared by Takatoshi Toshi. We kicked it of with kasugodai (baby red snapper cured with bamboo leaf), iwashi (sardine), sagoshi (smoked young Spanish mackerel), kamasu (seared barracuda), kuruma ebi (live Japanese tiger shrimp) and zuke chu toro (red wine cured medium fatty kindai-tenku blue fin tuna). I never had sardine sashimi before and I liked it. Also I really enjoyed the mackerel (for some reason I love mackerel). The tiger shrimp was cooked and peeled just before serving it. Although it was cooled down on ice water it was still warm inside, which made it a very nice dish. I am not too much into shrimp as far as sashimi and nigiri go, but I really enjoyed this one.


 

Afterwards we tried kaisui uni (deep sea ocean packed sea urchin). It was prepared on a spoon and was incredibly fresh and sweet. Just recently, I had uni enrolled in chu toro tuna at Akiko’s Restaurant, but this uni was even better. If only it was served with toro 😉 … but wait.

After that we hat the most delicious toro (kindai-tenku blue fin fatty tuna), kohada (gizzard shad), fresh sujiko (salmon roe) and shirayaki (fresh water grilled eel with sansho). The fatty tuna almost fell apart when I picked it up and dissolved lovely on the tongue. I never had shad before, it was also very elegant and acute at the same time. The eel was also very nice although I must admit I really love unagi.


 

We continued with some amazing tarabagani (king crab with crab butter aioli) served on a spoon. The aioli was delicious and provided a mediterranean twist to the crab. One could easily ask for seconds, but we went on with bincho toro (fresh white fatty tuna), zuke sake (white soy sauce cured fatty salmon) and meso anago (braised young sea eel).


 

For the last order we chose the tokachi wagyu beef as nigiri (grade A5 Japanese beef spriploin), as we did the last time we were there. It is so delicious and well worth the money and effort put into it.


 

It truly was a dinner long to be remembered. The fish was so fresh and tasty, it just blew us away. Since this was our second sitting at Sushi Ran during our trip, it is safe to say that the experience was even better than before. We really enjoyed to talk with Takatoshi Toshi and letting him chose one delicious dish after another. It is hard to believe that there are differences on such a high level of gourmet cuisine, but there sure are.

So whenever you have the chance to go to Sushi Ran, make sure you are sitting at the Sushi bar and take a look at the Sushi Bar Exclusives and hope the Executive Chef is waiting for your order.

Omakase menu at Sushi Ran

During my recent trip to the San Francisco Bay Area in October 2015, I had to make my mandatory visit to Sushi Ran, my all time favourite Sushi Restaurant in Sausalito. I have been there quite often over the past 12 years and have written about it many times. My last visit to Sushi Ran was during the WWDC 2014. If you are interested, check it out.

This time around I went twice, this being a short post about the first visit. As a group of 3, we were lucky to get seats at the packed sushi bar at 8 pm on a Sunday.

Sushi Ran Restaurant Logo


 

Sashimi Platter

We started the dinner with some sake based cocktails and a moriawase sashimi platter, made of 10 pieces: 2 pieces of king sake (kings salmon), 2 pieces of Aji (horse mackarel), 2 pieces of hon maguro (kindai-tenku blue fin tuna), 2 pieces of bincho maguro (fresh white tuna) and 2 pieces of hamachi (yellowtail).


 

Omakase Sushi

I hope I got it right, since I was focussed more on the taste of the insanely great fish than taking notes. Afterwards we opted for the omakase nigiri menu and kicked it off with young barracuda, toro & caviar (sustainable blue fin fatty tuna with California white sturgeon roe), umi masu (ocean trout with shiso leaf), katsuo (lightly cherrywood smoked bonito), zuke chu toro (red wine cured medium fatty kindai-tenku bue tin tuna) and kusshi oyster with yuzu jelly.

For desert we chose the grade A5 tokachi wagyu beef nigiri (Japanese beef striploin) and a shirayaki nigiri (fresh water grilled eel with sansho).


 

Since we mostly had nigiri, we couldn’t take any more although it was truly awesome. This is why we decided to come back for more on our last day. So I’ll be posting more about my Sushi Ran experiences soon.

Following The Trails Of Sushi Ran: Trying Akiko’s Restaurant again

During my last trip to San Francisco in October 2015, I went to Akiko’s Restaurant again. It is one of my favourite sushi restaurants and is located at 431 Bush St near the Dragon’s Gate to Chinatown in San Francisco. I have been there in 2014, and to make it short, it’s still great.

Akiko's Restaurant
Akiko’s Restaurant

Image Source: Akiko’s Restaurant

It is still supposed to be of the very few restaurant that can at all be compared to my all time favourite Sushi Ran in Sausalito, which has been the best for more than 30 years according to Michael Bauer… and I agree. Akiko’s is always well booked, so just as last time we went there despite no seats being available and got squeezed in just after opening at 5 pm with some awesome seats at the sushi bar.


 

Sashimi Platter

This time I went there with a friend from Germany and we shared an amazing omakase experience, starting off with a great sashimi platter. It was made of 12 pieces: 2 pieces of ji-kinmedai (“cold smoked” golden eye snapper), 2 pieces of unimasu (ocean trout), 2 pieces of isaki (grunt fish), 1 piece of hotate (scallop),  1 piece of mirugai (giant clam), 2 pieces of hamachi suna zuri (yellowtail belly cut) and 2 pieces of mebachi maguro (big-eye tuna).

Akiko's Restaurant - ji-kinmedai, unimasu, isaki, hotate,mirugai, suna zuri, mebachi maguro sashimi
ji-kinmedai (“cold smoked” golden eye snapper), unimasu (ocean trout), isaki (grunt fish), hotate (scallop), mirugai (giant clam), suna zuri (yellowtail belly cut), mebachi maguro (big-eye tuna) sashimi

 

Omakase Menu

After that we we had some awesome Uni (sea urchin) enrolled in chu toro (medium fatty blue fin tuna). The uni was incredibly fresh and sweet, but the tuna was even better. It melted on the tongue and made this dish a absolute delight long to be remembered. Although we almost passed out after this delicious dish, we had even more according to the check. One should never stop short off bursting, since you don’t come by often, I suppose. Anyway, we continued with Shima Aji (stripped jack, white trevally) sashimi.

After that we switched to nigiri for some reason. Although nigiri is also great it really fills you up with rice, so pretty soon there will be no room for more. But not yet. We tried some awesome Ayu (river trout “sweet fish”) and Kamasu (young barracuda). Since we don’t have sweet fish and barracuda at any restaurant I know at home, it’s always nice to try something different.

For the grand finale we had the most terrific grade A5 Miyazaki Magyu (Japanese Black Cattle) nigiri. It was amazing and was prepared in front of us since we had seats at the sushi bar.


 

What a great dinner and definitely among the best sushi experiences I ever had. But wait for my posts on my 2 visits to Sushi Ran during this trip.

Some Amazing Tuna Sashimi

Amazing tuna sashimi at Matsumi
fatty tuna sashimi

Matsumi just received a new tuna. So I had the opportunity to taste some amazing toro sashimi, maybe the best I ever had.

Tuna Sashimi at Matsumi

Matsumi tuna sashimi
Toro, O-toro, Chūtoro and Hara-Toro sashimi sashimi

Being back in Hamburg for just a few days, I stopped by at Matsumi, my all time favourite Japanese Restaurant, for some delicious Sashimi. In fact, it was a gigantic sashimi platter with the finest assortment of fish selected by sushi chef Hideaki Morita.

Matsumi tuna sashimi
Toro, O-toro, Chūtoro and Hara-Toro sashimi

The tuna repertoire was of particular grandiosity… meaning yum yum yum. It was (from left to right) Toro, O-toro, Chūtoro and Hara-Toro.

Matsumi tuna sashimi - toro
toro sashimi
Matsumi tuna sashimi - o-toro
O-toro sashimi
Matsumi tuna sashimi - Chūtoro
Chūtoro sashimi
Matsumi tuna sashimi - Hara-Toro
Hara-Toro sashimi

Rest assured, I will be back for more.

Sashimi Mix at Matsumi

Awesome sashimi at Matsumi
sake (salmon, ika (squid), saba (mackerel), ama ebi (sweet shrimp)

Sashimi Mix at Matsumi

Following The Trails Of Sushi Ran: Akiko’s Restaurant

Wondering about the staff that left Sushi Ran in Sausalito for new endeavours in San Francisco, I set out to test them against my benchmark experiences at Sushi Ran.

So, I managed to get a sushi bar seat at the very busy, always fully booked Akiko’s Restaurant, located in 431 Bush St near the Dragon’s Gate to Chinatown and Union Square in San Francisco. Attention: It is not to be confused with another restaurant named Akiko on Mason St, which apparently was previously owned and sold by the same people. 

akikos-restaurant-1

The restaurant is a very small and cozy place with roughly 30 seats in total and seems to be quite popular with people who also appreciate Sushi Ran. While researching decent sushi restaurants in San Francisco, I came across an article by Michael Bauer from December 2013, claiming it’s a sushi classic in the making”. He states:

“When out-of-towners ask me for the best sushi in San Francisco, I send them to Sushi Ran in Sausalito. I tell them how great it is to cross the bay in a ferry or to drive across the Golden Gate Bridge.

For the most part, I haven’t been impressed with what we have in our 49 square miles. Now 27 years old, Sushi Ran has continued to be my favorite year after year.

Recently, however, I’d been hearing about Akiko’s on Bush Street, so I decided to stop in, not knowing anything more than that people I trusted liked it a lot.

I was immediately impressed by the passion and voice given to the food.”

Source: “Akiko’s is a sushi classic in the making.” December 26 2013

The people sitting next to me were also long time Sushi Ran aficionados and our appointed chef let me know that he was a sushi chef there for many year as well and worked with Nori Kusakabe, the executive chef wo just opened the restaurant I visited a few days ago in the financial district of San Francisco.

Since I read so much about Akiko’s focus on the fish’s quality and their appreciation for Sushi Ran, I chose to do an omakase sashimi menu which was advertised between 80-100 $. Here are some pictures I took during the evening.

Akiko's Restaurant - sake (New Zealand king salmon), maguru (big eye tuna) & I think it was suzuki (sea bass)
sake (New Zealand king salmon), maguru (big eye tuna) & I think it was suzuki (sea bass)

 

Akiko's Restaurant - hamachi (yellow tail) & squid
hamachi (yellow tail) & squid

 

Akiko's Restaurant - ayu (sweet fish)
ayu (sweet fish)

 

Akiko's Restaurant - scallop (hotategai)
scallop (hotategai)

 

Akiko's Restaurant - umimasu (Australian ocean trout) & sustainable blue blue fin chu toro
umimasu (Australian ocean trout) & sustainable blue blue fin chu toro

 

Akikos' Restaurant - ankimo (monkfish liver pate)
ankimo (monkfish liver pate)

The fish was perfectly delicious and above any expectations I had. Everything was arranged beautifully and served in a very traditional manner without any fancy sauces. They really focus on the flavour of the fish and try to use accents only to heighten the experience. I really enjoyed every piece and although the restaurant is a little too much on the pricy side, I can attest that Akiko’s ist in fact Sushi Ran inspired and a true alternative to the trip to Sausalito.

The ambience of the boutique setting is very modern with open brick walls and very fitting to the attitude of the personal. In this regard they are rather different from Sushi Ran, which provides a far more traditional and almost zen ambience.

So from now on, there finally is a sushi restaurant I can recommend without hesitation in downtown San Francisco. Surely, I will be back. I am no food critic or anything, but it really is a great restaurant providing a fantastic sushi experience at the highest quality.

But still, my all time favourite remains to be Sushi Ran. It is always worth the trip over bridge or the ferry to Sausalito.