With its perfect ocean-surrounded location, melting pot of cultures and devoted foodie scene, San Francisco is the ultimate place to find some of the best sushi –and best sushi chefs – in the USA.
San Francisco takes great pride in its Japanese community and is known for having the largest Japantown in the US – which led to it being the home of some incredible Michelin Star worthy sushi. The Michelin Star sushi in San Francisco is beginning to take centre stage in the culinary world and is well on its way to three-star status.
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The Shota in the finance district of the Bay Area strives for beauty and opulence in all of their simplistic yet aesthetically stunning dishes. They’re known for serving their Edomae style sushi on ceramic plates that look more like works of art, and their decor is a heavenly sanctuary draped in linen and bathed in natural light.
The Edomae style sushi is unique to Shota, as they’ve gone through the extra effort of jetting in fresh seafood from Tokyo Bay, to provide a more authentic experience at their restaurant. That’s not the only thing unique to Edomae style sushi – Edomae is a century-old method of curing the sashimi before serving. Instead of sticking to the fish varieties that are known to taste good served raw, the Edomae style allows the chef to explore and diversify their menu by either curing or flash cooking the seafood.
Salmon and tuna nigiri is a thing of the past, while Shota opts for squid and sea bream. The seafood may be flash poached, charred, cured or grilled – bringing out the complexity of flavours in ingredients that are pure. This counter dining experience permits you to take a look at all of the processes behind your meal, acknowledging the freshness of the ingredients and the skill of the sushi chef masters.
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Omakase utilizes San Francisco’s close proximity to Tokoyo Bay by flying in fresh seafood from world-renowned fish vendors in Sakasyu three times a week. That’s just one of the ways chef Jackson Yu and his team relentlessly commit themselves to fully embrace the art of fresh Omakase sushi.
Omakase is less of a tranquil sanctuary, and more of a lively and intimate dining experience with young professionals, entranced by the performance-like skill of the sushi masters at work. Getting a seat at the bar, you’ll most likely be elbow to elbow with fellow patrons – making Omakase a social and interactive experience, a great choice for an after-work dinner or a fun first date.
Omakase also utilizes the Edo way, by experimenting with methods to enhance the pure, imported ingredients. You’ll see items like trout steamed with sake, nigiri topped with lightly seared wagyu beef and cedar torched sea bream. Delicacies like Uni are a must-try as they are always freshly harvested from the still morning waters of coastal Japan.
Jū-Ni has taken the intimacy of the Omakase dining experience to its full extent. Jū-Ni – meaning “twelve” in Japanese – has achieved the goal of providing a first-class, highly attentive and immersive dining experience for their patrons by only allowing 12 diners at a time. This allows there to be a designated sushi chef focusing on 4 diners at a time, making everyone feel relaxed and well looked after.
The menu you’ll depend on the seasonal produce that was flown in from Tokoyo Bay. The beginning of the tasting menu will usually start with an inventive twist working with the vegetables of the season, like edamame hummus topped with fresh tomato. This is a great start to the rich and curious nigiri to follow like buttery scallop or shaved monkfish liver atop flavourful rice and served with a variety of unique sauces.
Jū-Ni plays into the aesthetic appeal of omakase-style dining and has recently been renovated to cater to a younger clientele that is drawn in by the picturesque dining. The gentle spotlights allow for the perfect pictures, and the relaxed and friendly servers and owners are open to catering to anyone and everyone, dismissing the usual exclusivity and traditionalism of other Michelin star establishments. During the pandemic, they even opened up an adorable “parklet” to allow for outdoor dining.
The inviting glow that radiates from their streetside shop entices unsuspecting passers-by to enter the casual and cosy dining of Wako. They focus primarily on traditional and authentic style sushi, with slight twists to keep things interesting. The ingredients are pure and traditional Japanese, with as little altering as possible. It may sound predictable, but Wako strives to present Japanese ingredients that many locals may not be familiar with like “Ankimo”, the fatty and rich liver of a monkfish that tastes a bit like foie gras.
Enjoy the warm atmosphere composed of beautifully hued wooden surfaces and decorated with fresh flowers and moody dim lighting, while tasting their variety of seasonal dishes. They have a set menu with all the favourites for those who are in a less adventurous mood like classic sashimi nigiri. Or you can give the indulgent wagyu and uni handroll a try, two delicacies wrapped in a perfect sheet of nori.
Then there are the seasonal dishes like the grilled miso black cod with a signature dashi sauce. Or the firefly squid box, where the miniature bite-sized squid is served whole with mustard miso sauce. You wouldn’t be able to leave without trying their incredible light and crisp tempura dishes like the deep-fried pike eel served with tempura figs and vegetables. Wako is the perfect Michelin star sushi in San Francisco for the sushi traditionalist.
With its convenient location and close proximity to the sushi capital of the world, San Francisco is the perfect place to find the most authentic sushi outside of Japan. The locals are thrilled to have these gorgeous little spots in their hood, and they are a must-try for any tourists. These Michelin Star sushi restaurants in San Francisco are well on their way to three-star status, so why not experience them before they’re world-famous and you have to wait months in advance for a table.
If sushi is not your thing, check out the other Michelin Star restaurants in San Francisco.