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.

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.