The story: This popular neighborhood sushi spot originally started in Bernal Heights, opened by sushi veteran Tim Archuleta and his wife, Erin. Starting out with a catering company, the couple opened Ichi Sushi in 2010 and word quickly spread about the fresh and creative sushi, especially the nigiri. Earlier this year, Archuleta opened in larger quarters in the Outer Mission, adding a lounge area and calling it Ichi Sushi + Ni Bar.
Why I went: I love sushi, and always wanted to try Ichi but it’s a bit off the beaten track. Last Saturday I was in the Mission with my friend Vera and afterwards we decided to get dinner, so I suggested we hunt down the new Ichi Sushi.
The vibe: With a graphic mural to welcome you and Lionel Richie bellowing from the house speakers, it was a bit like you’re attending a gallery opening. The service is friendly and welcoming, which helps since they don’t take reservations and patience is probably important when thinking of eating here.
The booze: The menu offers a nice array of sake, beer and wine, but I was getting over a cold so I steered clear of alcohol. I enjoyed a nice pot of Japanese genmaicha tea.
The menu: While much of the menu is dedicated to the fresh fish, served as nigiri, rolls or sashimi, Archuleta has added a section on hot dishes and snacks to play up the Ni Bar element of the new space. Archuleta serves his nigiri in the traditional way, which means each formed piece of fish and rice is seasoned specifically for that type of fish and dressed to be eaten as is. That means no soy sauce and wasabi need apply. Vera and I tried a variety of nigiri, which were all distinctly different and enjoyable, along with a cold dish (maguro avocado salad) that was beautifully presented and a hot dish (miso clams) that was my least favorite dish because the ground pork mixed with the clams didn’t seem special and the overall flavor seemed generic.
My favorite dish: It was probably the tray of nigiri that we ordered, and of the fishes we selected, my favorite was the katsuo, or Japanese skip jack, which was slightly torched on the edges and had a wonderful subtle sauce.
Insider tip: This probably isn’t a secret, but go early to beat the crowds! Vera and I arrived at 5:30 p.m. and easily found a table, but the restaurant was full by the time we left at around 7 p.m.
The last bite: Ichi Sushi is a blend of the traditional and modern sushi restaurant, and while its popularity makes it difficult to get a table, once you’re seated the nigiri sushi provides creative yet sublime sushi tastes.
The rating: 3 out of 4 camera snaps
The deets: Ichi Sushi + Ni Bar, 3282 Mission St. (at 29th), San Francisco. PH: 415.525.4750. Open for dinner, Monday through Saturday, closed Sunday. No reservations accepted. Major credit cards accepted. ichisushi.com
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