I’ve become somewhat of a sushi snob since going to Japan, where most of the time sushi contains nothing but a slice of fish and a bite-sized ball of shari (sushi rice), and flavor is ruled by the freshness of the seafood instead of pungent sauces and seasoning. So when it came to looking for a Japanese restaurant to celebrate my friend’s birthday that would suit both their love for rolls like Lion King and my tastes for sushi, I was in a bit of a predicament. I scoured food blogs, Urbanspoon, and Yelp for something that’s not too traditional and not too Americanized. Finally, one picture caught my eye; it was the oyako roll consisting of both salmon and ikura, a combination I’ve rarely seen here in the states. Tazaki Sushi it is then.
We arrived around 6:30 for dinner to find it quite empty for weekend dining. Then again, Tazaki is located in the quiet residential area of Outer Sunset in San Francisco, so I quelled my unease about the food’s quality until I tasted the first bite. Each table had an order sheet that you can fill out for sushi, and after deliberating about the menu for a while, we decided on the following.
Nigiri: amaebi (sweet shrimp), oyako (salmon and salmon roe), yellow submarine (albacore, sea urchin & quail egg), and unagi.
Kotobuki sashimi combo: 35 slices (in our case 40) of seven varieties of fish
Rolls: Yakuza maki (soft shell crab, eel & shrimp tempura), tiger maki (shrimp, crab & avocado), and cherry blossom (salmon & avocado- they were kind enough to substitute in salmon instead of tuna for us)
The amaebi was enticingly sweet, its flesh firm and succulent. It was so flavorful that not a drop of soy sauce was needed. I also adored the deep fried head (which I saved until after I ate all the slices and unagi) that was lightly battered and super crisp.
The nigiri I most looked forward to definitely lived up to expectation. The ikura was salted just right, and I loved popping the sweet roe in my mouth. Combined with thick slices of fatty salmon, it was perfection.
I hadn’t expected much from the yellow submarine, as I wasn’t a big fan of sea urchin. However, the richness of the egg yolk and sea urchin paired beautifully with the tender albacore. At $9 for two pieces, it’s a bit steep, but for sea urchin fans out there looking for the freshest uni, this is a good choice.
Unagi is another one of my guilty pleasures, and Tazaki’s version was delicious. Intensely smoky and sweetened by a thin glimmer of sauce, the eel was rich in flavor. If I can only have one type of sushi for the rest of my life, it would be unagi (or anago, its saltwater cousin).
The sashimi platter was beautifully presented. I hadn’t noticed it at first, but the radish flower used for decoration was actually interspersed with pieces of thinly sliced hirame. The salmon was wonderfully fat and flavorful, while the yellowtail was buttery rich. I was most surprised by the shiro maguro though, whose texture was incredibly pillowy and melted in the mouth. Each piece was generously thick, and it was a great value for $40.
The rolls were nothing too memorable, but what surprised me was that they used real crab meat for their filling and topping. My favorite was the cherry blossom. Fresh salmon, tobiko, rice, and avocado always go well together.
All in all, Tazaki was great value for what they served. I’ve not had one restaurant to mark down as a staple for Japanese food in a while, but I’ll be definitely have this as one of my choices to bring my family should we have a craving for sushi.
3420 Judah St
San Francisco, CA 94122