[San Francisco, Mission] Sasaki

Sasaki is a sushi restaurant from chef Masa Sasaki, formerly of Maruya, Omakase, and Delage, and chef Takanori Wada. It’s in the Mission on the corner of 20th and Harrison across from Flour + Water. It apparently was previously an American Grilled Cheese Kitchen, but you wouldn’t know that by looking at it. The windows are all smoked up and the exterior is largely unlabeled outside of a small sign on the door, and the interior is dominated by a large open sushi counter against the wall. They are counter only (seats 12) and omakase only ($175 per person). There are no add-ons or a la carte menu. We had dinner here on a weeknight, and our chef was Sasaki-san.


Upon being seated there was an appetizer waiting - slightly bitter tasting burdock covered with mentaiko (spicy salted cod roe).


Zuke Maguro
Dinner started with a marinated tuna nigiri. Interesting start to the meal. Delicious, meaty and not too salty.


Tsuriaji Tataki
Spanish mackerel mixed with a soy sauce, chives, and shiso leaf.


Hirame Shinjo
The hirame is mixed in the tofu. Could taste a little of it in each bite. Dab of slightly spicy sauce on top, with a fried dill leaf. Little sweet peas in the broth. Kind of wished I had a spoon to scoop up the rest of the sauce.


Sawara Wariaki
Could smell the charcoal in the air when they were making this dish. Slices of king mackerel, with fresh wasabi leaf, chive puree, sliced kumquat, and smoked soy sauce. Smoky, with delicate fish and a kick from the wasabi leaf.


Next came a parade of nigiri. Two types of vinegared rice were used in the nigiri, starting with the dark tinted rice flavored with the stronger akazu rice vinegar.

Ginger
The pickled ginger that accompanied the nigiri was unique. Thickly sliced from what looked like whole roots, and replenished over the course of the meal. It tasted a little salty and not very sweet.


Chutoro
Medium fatty tuna. Meaty and rich.


Iwashi
Sardine. Light and delicate, I don’t remember if I’ve had sardines in nigiri form before. Sure is a lot different from canned or grilled sardines.


Kanpachi(?)
Great, heavy on the wasabi, springy texture.


Kinmedai
Golden eye snapper.


Clam Broth
A shot of warm clam broth for a break from the nigiri.


The next nigiri had rice flavored with lighter tasting white rice vinegar.

Uni
Various types of uni atop a mound of sushi rice, topped with a dab of wasabi. A generous amount of uni. Sweet, fresh, and creamy.


Aori Ika
I used to think I didn’t really like squid nigiri because it tasted like rubber, but after eating it in nicer sushi restaurants I’m beginning to think it’s because I’ve just been eating inferior squid nigiri. This was not rubbery at all. Had some citrus zest (yuzu?) grated on top.


Madai
Sea Bream. Heavy with the wasabi.


Kisu
Apparently this is Japanese whiting. There was a layer of crumbled egg yolk between the fish and the rice. Sweet.


Tairagai
A type of large clam. Chef Sasaki showed us the shell. Sweet and slightly crisp.


Isaki
Grunt.


Narazuke, Shiso, Daikon, Cucumber
A second small course of vegetables to break between rounds of nigiri. The narazuke pickle on top of the daikon had a little bit of something that tasted a little like a red bean paste inside it.


The next nigiri were made with the rice seasoned with the akazu vinegar again.

Otoro
Fatty tuna. Very rich, one of my favorite bites.


Kohada
Gizzard shad. A bit tart tasting.


Anago
Sea eel. One of the best bites of the meal. Warm and delicate.


Tuna Temaki
The last of the sushi was a delicious tuna hand roll. Chunks of tuna mixed with pickled radish, with shiso leaf. He made a flap on one end of the roll out of nori to keep the filling from falling out. The nori wrapper was nice and crispy.


Tamago
Two types of tamago. The one on the left was more dense, dry, and cake-like. The one on the right was fluffier and moist.


Miso Soup


Dessert
Green tea tofu(?)/cheesecake thing with kumquat slices. Served with a toasted green tea.


This was a delicious meal, one of the best sushi meals I’ve had, though I haven’t had that many high-end omakase meals. It is expensive, but high quality and quite a large quantity of food.

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Wow, that looks like a amazing meal and that clam shell is crazy!

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Sounds good!

As per a sign on the door, it’s reservation only— I wouldn’t have noticed the place was occupied if not your post!

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Thanks for the report!

Did he mention anything about the rice or the akazu used?

On top of that there are many species of sardines. Any idea where he got his iwashi from?

How do you like this meal versus the one you had at Yoshizumi?

Chef did not happen to mention the type of rice or akazu, or the type of the sardine unfortunately.

From what I remember of Yoshizumi I think they are pretty close - both were delicious. I’m not that much of a sushi connoisseur though. Yoshizumi and Sasaki along with Kusukabe in SF (a while ago) are the top three sushi meals I’ve had in recent memory.

I would give maybe a slight edge to Yoshizumi’s rice. The rice at Yoshizumi was great, really good mouthfeel IIRC. I’ve also read that Yoshizumi uses a mix of akazu and komezu for their rice if that makes a difference. Was less vinegary than the akazu flavored pieces in Sasaki (going from hazy memory). It was interesting though how Sasaki used akazu rice for the stronger flavored neta and komezu rice for the more delicate neta like the squid, kind of like pairing food with white or red wine.

In terms of quantity and even value Sasaki probably wins, it was quite a large meal.

Are there anyone else doing two types of rice in one meal around the Bay Area?

Not that I’m aware of, though I haven’t been following the sushi scene closely.

“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold