A Look at San Francisco’s Sushi Scene

San Francisco is a sushi hotspot on the Pacific Coast with a thriving Japanese community. Ryan Hunter Bluestone says that the city has something for everyone, and for every budget.

From smaller, cozy nigiri spots to Michelin-starred establishments that are changing the sushi scene, there is plenty worth discovering and experiencing. With fresh fish coming straight from the Tokyo fish markets daily, San Francisco’s sushi is as authentic as it gets, without traveling across the world to try the authentic flavors in Japan itself. 

Traditional Sushi Spots

For those looking to experience a sushi restaurant with a traditional feel, there are many places in the area that fit these criteria. Sit grouped together with other patrons on long benches or on tightly packed tables separated by gorgeous screens, or be close to the action at first come first serve countertops. 

Many of these places are long-running family affairs, with the likes of Ebisu in Inner Sunset featuring not only the owners, Steve and Koio Fujii, but also their two sons! The long wait time is a testament to the quality of the food here, as well as the service. Enjoy their daily specials or even place a special order with the chef!

Casual Dining

Sometimes sushi makes for a perfect casual meal or lunch while out on the town, and the busy San Francisco streets offer countless places to suit a wide range of budgets and interests. 

Sake Bomb, located in the Mission, combines a casual and low-key atmosphere with beautifully presented and high-quality sushi rolls and nigiri. Try their Snow White specialty sushi roll, with snow crab, shrimp tempura, and cucumber.

Okane, unlike its next-door sister location Omakase, focuses on casual dining, with a great sushi roll selection alongside Japanese comfort food for sharing with friends. 

Fine Dining

For people wishing to experience the very best of San Francisco’s sushi scene, their Michelin-starred sushi restaurants certainly do not disappoint!

Hashiri focuses on using in-season ingredients, and their menu changes as frequently as the animated screens on the ceiling! They provide monthly tasting menus consisting of multiple courses of the finest edamame sushi. 

For a more intimate and exclusive sushi experience, foodies should make their way to Ju-Ni. Tables aren’t easy to acquire though: not only did they pick up a Michelin Star in 2017, but there are also only 12 tables in the restaurant! With an 18 course omakase menu, and one chef per four diners, it’s a diehard sushi fan’s dream. 

Vegetarian and Vegan Sushi

Those who are unable to partake in fish or seafood due to dietary preferences or requirements don’t have to miss out on the city’s sushi scene. 

Cha-Ya in the Mission offers a unique take on sushi, with a menu that is entirely vegan-friendly! They take their inspiration from Japanese Buddhist cuisine, which involves no meat. This leads to some truly uniquely flavorful experiences, such as sushi rolls made with pickled daikon or sour plum cucumber. 

Other Sushi Hotspots

Of course, with such thriving Japanese cuisine locations, there are many restaurants in San Francisco to discover. The best foodies know that local recommendations can often lead to some amazing gastronomic experiences!

Ryan Bluestone
Ryan Hunter Bluestone