Sunday, July 30, 2006

Restaurant Review: Sebo

Last Friday, my girlfriend and I decided to check out Sebo (517 Hayes Street; 415-864-2181) , a tiny sushi restaurant tucked away in Hayes Valley. We were both in the mood for sushi, as we had a rather poor dining experience earlier in the week (at a restaurant that shall remain nameless) and were looking forward to checking out a fresh new place.

We walked over from my girlfriend's pad and arrived at the restaurant expecting a long wait for seats. To our surprise, there was an open table. It would have been nice to sit at the sushi counter, as the omakase meal is only available at the counter, but we decided to order a la carte. We started out with some sake. Now, I'm not a sake connoisseur, but I do know that I like cold sake, not the crappy hot stuff that we had earlier in the week. We selected a bottle of Nigori (unfiltered) sake, which was surprising affordable at $20 a bottle. Our selection, which came from True Sake down the street, had a hint of carbonation which gave it a interesting note.

We each started with a bowl of miso soup, which was very flavorful. Though I was interested in some of their rolls, including the negitoro maki, we ended up mainly going with a selection of nigiri: aji (mackeral), kampachi (amberjack), hotategai (scallop), gold bream, and chutoro, a cut which comes from the fatty belly of the tuna. We also had an order of our favorite, unagi. Of course, we couldn't completely skip all of the rolls, and decided on their maguro maki.

Our order came out quickly and we rapidly dove into the sushi. One of the interesting things about Sebo is that they don't want you to drown the sushi in soy sauce; indeed, you will not find a bottle at your table. They want you to taste the fish, not the sauce. The sushi was very well presented and well cut. All of the fish were really fresh and tasted very good. I really liked the scallop, which literally melted in my mouth as I chewed. I also was very impressed with the maguro roll. The tuna was fantastically deep red in color and its rich taste was nicely complemented in the roll by a sliver of avocado, lemon (lemon rind from what I could tell), and a touch of sesame oil. It came together very nicely.

As I mentioned in one of my earlier posts, I'm a huge fan of toro and the chutoro nigiri did not disappoint. It wasn't quite as good as the o-toro that I had at Sushi Ran, but it was fantasic nevertheless. My girlfriend, the wonderful woman that she is, saw how much I enjoyed the chutoro and asked me if I'd mind if we went all out and got an order of o-toro. How could I say no? Well, the o-toro was just divine, melting away every time I chewed and filling my mouth with its buttery goodness - absolutely fantastic and every bit as any o-toro that I've ever had.

We had read several glowing reviews of Sebo and had high expectations of the restaurant, which were all met. I'll have to put down Sebo on my list of favorite sushi places in San Francisco, along with Sushi Bistro and Sushi Ran.