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.

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.

Following The Trails Of Sushi Ran: Kusakabe

Following the personal that left Sushi Ran in Sausalito for new endeavours in San Francisco over the past few month, I set out to test them all against my benchmark experiences at Sushi Ran.

First, I managed to get a sushi bar seat at the not-yet-opened restaurant KUSAKABE, located in the financial district of downtown San Francisco. It is a very small place with roughly 30 seats, half of which are at the long sushi bar.

Kusakabe-1

Apparently, it will officially open on Monday, June 16 2014, so I was happy to got squeezed in. It is owned and operated by sushi chef Nori Kusakabe, a former executive chef at Sushi Ran.

Nori Kusakabe is the CEO and Co-owner chef of KUSAKABE. He has been the executive chef at Sushi Ran in Sausalito until November, 2013 where Michelin stars was awarded in 2006 & 2007. He was the Grand Winner of World Sushi Award and All US Sushi Technical Skill Champion. His past experience includes executive chef at the famous NOBU restaurant in Miami Beach.

Source: “About the owner chef, nori Kusakabe”, June 6 2014

They offer a fixed omakase menu for 95 $ which takes you on a journey through the highlights of Japanese cuisine. It contains a mix of mostly nigiri, very few sashimi as well as some sushi rolls, miso soup and other warm dishes. After around 10 courses you can still choose from the à la carte menu, which has a limited offer of additional nigiri and some deserts. Here are some pictures I took during the evening.

Kusakabe - chu toro
sustainable zuke chu toro (medium fatty tuna) nigiri
Kusakabe - whitefish
whitefish nigiri
Kusakabe - ebi
ebi (prawn) nigiri
Kusakabe - uni
uni (sea urchin) nigiri
Kusakabe -Wagyu beef
A5 Wagyu beef nigiri
Kusakabe - aji
aji (wild-caught horse mackerel) nigiri

The fish was delicious and very intense for it was served very traditionally without any fancy sauces or anything. So it really was kind of like Sushi Ran, but with a twist to it. There are some more people from Sushi Ran there in addition to the chef (1 additional chef, 2 waiters and sommeliers). Everybody was very nice and forthcoming and I even recognised some people from my visits to Sushi Ran.

What I didn’t like so much is that I couldn’t really choose what to eat. I don’t mind a soup but I would have enjoyed more sashimi. Even the à la cart items are only available as nigiri and the variety of fish is very limited. I asked about it, and they will keep the omakase style menu as a key element of their concept. Also I didn’t like that the fish was mostly preprepared und was just arranged at the bar. I suppose it makes sense because of the omakase menu style, but I really enjoy watching the sushi chefs do their magic with the knife. They also do not have any bar fridge where you can look at the fish. It’s stored away in under the sushi bar due to the open design of the restaurant. The interior is a mix of raw brick walls and lots of bamboo elements. I am not sure wether the decor is finished already, but it seemed a little steril and cold for my taste.
All in all it was a great dinner with delicious and very superior fish and I do not regret going there. In terms of the fish’s quality, Kusakabe can match Sushi Ran in fact. But, to be honest, I will gladly come back to Sushi Ran because of the larger variety in their menu and the ambience of the restaurant.
But still, if you are in the neighbourhood, give Kusakabe a try. I am sure they are here to stay since they stand out within San Francisco due to their quality approach and kaiseki style cuisine.

Following The Trails Of Sushi Ran

Since I was in San Francisco for Apple’s WWDC 2014, I had some time to explore the latest developments surrounding my favourite local sushi restaurant Sushi Ran in Sausalito, California.

trails-of-sushi-ran-1

Actually, I first came across Sushi Ran during an Apple Keynote, when Steve Jobs showed off the restaurant within a product demo, virtually making a reservation. So, as an Apple fanboy, I went – and I LOVED it.

Since then, I have been at Sushi Ran every single time I was in the San Francisco Bay Area – just like this time. I decided to do an omakase sashimi menu at the sushi bar. So, I only had Sashimi and hell, it was delicious. Here are some pictures I took during the evening.

Sushi Ran - sustainable zuke chu toro (red wine cured medium fatty tuna)
sustainable zuke chu toro (red wine cured medium fatty tuna)

 

Sushi Ran - copper river king (wild king salmon)
copper river king (wild king salmon)

 

Sushi Ran - hotategai (sea scallop)
hotategai (sea scallop)

 

Sushi Ran - hamachi - (yellowtail) & madai (wild red snapper)
hamachi – (yellowtail) & madai (wild red snapper)

In addition I had some umi masu (ocean trout), aji (line caught horse mackerel), sustainable blue fin maguro and toro and finally some unagi.

It truly is a great restaurant. They take a rather traditional approach, really focussing on the fish itself. They don’t do any of that fancy California sushi stuff with lots of sauce, avocado or even mayo. They are focussing on the essence of the fish – I like that. On their website they describe it as a vibrant fusion of traditional Japanese and Pacific cuisine. Sushi Ran is supposed to have an excellent sake selection as well. Since I am not into sake at all, I cannot state anything worth your time. But they are really passionate about everything they do and provide the highest quality and most tasteful fish I have eaten so far. Although I am no gourmet critic or anything, I really think they deserve to be one of the top-rated restaurants in the Bay Area.

The next day, during Tim Cook’s Keynote at Apple’s WWDC 2014, Sushi Ran was shown off again by Craig Federighi within the new Safari UI during the MAC OS X Yosemite product demo… That was a fun moment for me.

sushi-ran-during-apple-keynote

During the evening I came across the fact, that some Sushi Ran personal had left for new endeavours in the city. So I set out to test them all against my benchmark – Sushi Ran.

So, stay tuned for future blog post and updates on this.