Let’s talk about my favorite thing in the world.
Sushi. I’m obsessed.
And if you think about it, it’s also a perfect date-night spot. 1. Because when you sit at the sushi bar, it isn’t as intimidating as facing each other. 2. It’s still intimate, but it’s not as intrusive. 3. Your date isn’t staring at you stuffing your face (lol obviously that’s happened to me).
There are many bomb sushi spots in SF, but there’s also a ton of TERRIBLE ones.
You want to go to a spot that impresses all around: bomb ass sushi (not stringy or smelly), friendly service, never empty cups of sake, and great ambiance. Here are my faves for date night.
(Keep in mind that all these places are pricey… but hey, you get what you pay for AND these aren’t places that serve gross mayo-cream cheese rolls.)
You can close your eyes and pick any one of these places- you’ll be in good hands:
WAKO (1 Michelin)
Overview: I freaking LOVE this place. Wako is one of San Francisco’s best all around sushi restaurants, and it’s also the most affordable spot!! Yes, crazy right? They have 1 Michelin star AND they are affordable? = Heaven. So if you’re looking for something less expensive, but just as impressive… Go to Wako.
Tip: You have to, have to make a reservation at least 1-2 weeks in advance.
Overview: Tsubasa is a new sushi joint that just opened up a few months ago in Hayes Valley. This spot has been my go-to for the past 2 months- they’ve got extremely reasonable prices when considering the portion sizes, quality, and freshness of fish. Plus, service is always on-point and their green-tea mochi dessert… is the best way to end a meal.
Tip: Sit at the sushi bar and ask for Wilson to be your sushi chef. No need for reservations here, and you can most likely get a seat when you walk-in (for now at least).
Overview: Pabu kills it in every way. The quality of their sushi is phenomenal and they also serve cooked food. This is the kind of place that has aged wagu beef, uni flown in straight from Japan, some of the best toro I’ve ever had, along with the best service and a never empty cup of water (or wine/sake).
Tip: You can get a true omakase experience or order off the menu. Either way, you’ll be blown away by the quality in every dish. They have a bar area for drinks and the perfect date night ambiance. If you come here with a large group of friends, they have private rooms that can fit ~10 people.
BTW: This place is expensive as hell. But damn good!
Overview: When An Japanese Restaurant took over Ino sushi, everyone knew they had big shoes to fill. I especially was worried they wouldn’t live up to the hype. Fast forward a few months and reservations are already getting hard to come by. This place reminds me of a spot I’d find straight out of Japan- minimal, efficient and super fresh.
Tip: Sit at the sushi bar and make friends with the sushi chefs.
Overview: Go here for a more Americanized- Japanese take on sushi. They do an excellent job of introducing new flavors and combinations to their dishes, such as adding truffle oil to their sashimi. It’s a good spot in Russian Hill for a fun date environment. The flaming seabass is impressive, and definitely a spectacle- it’s on fire and cooking in front of you.
Tip: They only take reservations at 6pm right when they open, and will only seat you if your whole party is there. The lines are RIDIC. Don’t bring a date here unless you plan on going right when they open. He/she will probably get hangry. On the bright side, it’s located in a really cute neighborhood and you can walk around/explore before dinner.
KUSAKABE (1 Michelin)
Overview: This is an up-scale sushi restaurant that just kills it in every possible way: from service to quality to experience. Their omakase menu is one of the best I’ve ever had in SF. Your sushi chef basically puts on a show- using techniques such as torching, smoking, and meticulous seasoning into every element of the omakase menu.
Tip: This isn’t a “first date” type of spot. It’s more of a “special occasion” type of place. They only serve omakase, which lasts 2.5 hours… so if your date is going terribly… then… yeahhh. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
OMAKASE (1 Michelin)
Overview: Now THIS is a place that seeks perfection. If you’re a true sushi lover and can appreciate the art of Japanese cuisine + all the tiny details that go into every cut of fish, then this place is for you. There are only 14 seats a night, every single piece of pottery is imported from Japan, sake is served in hand-made crystal glasses, and even the sushi rice is cooked depending on the time of your arrival. I mean… how cool is that??