Last night Izumi and I went to Sushi Hamako on Carl Street in San Francisco. Run by a husband & wife team out of the ground floor of an old Victorian a few blocks from Haight-Ashbury, they’ve been putting out great sushi for the past 20 years.
Open from 6:30pm until, “the rice runs out” chef Tetsuya takes great care in selecting his ingredients and makes a trips to Tokyo hand carry things that he cannot source here such as thinly sliced kombu seaweed for his soup stocks. They have built up the business purely on word of mouth – there’s no sign out front and the decor is plain. They now are vistited regularly by those in the know. Iichiro drops by when the Marriners play the Giants and Yo-Yo Ma grabs a post-concert meal once a year when he’s in town for a performance.
I was reading some of the online reviews and see that some folks have complained about their unforgiving attitude. I can see where they would get this feeling. There’s an extreme respect for the food here. Izumi’s friend who introduced us to this place told us of one person who complained because something that was listed on the menu was not available. The chef said that he only serves a fish if it’s fresh, regardless of what’s listed on the menu. An argument ensued after which Tetsuya chased the fellow out the door with Tetsuya’s wife (who takes orders and serves) sprinkling salt across the threshold to purify the place of the bad mojo to the amazement of the other patrons.
I imagine that each day the menu is slightly different, although the Monkfish steamed in sake is a regular favorite. If you show an appreciation for what you are eating (as we did), the chef will begin to pull things out that are not normally offered. Anchovy Paste compote with shaved Uzu grown in San Leandro, handmade shiokara, Belgium chocolate truffles. . .
Sushi Hamako is much like the neighborhood sushi shop back in Japan. Functional decor and a focus on good fish. The only thing missing is are the Yomiuri Giants playing on a TV in the corner.
108 Carl St Ste B
San Francisco, CA 94117-3925
Phone: (415) 753-6808
Thank you Mie for looking after the two kids and letting us get out for a long-needed break!