I’ve been suffering a serious sushi jones for a long time now. We’ve finally given up utterly on any of the places in the neighborhood. Hamano has descended to new depths of awfulness. I want to like Amberjack, but find everything they make completely bland, starting with the sushi rice. Bland sushi rice sucks the flavor out of anything that sits on it. Deep Sushi is too much form over function, though the actual sushi is acceptable. And Tamasei, taking over the old Matsuya space, wins points for quirkiness but doesn’t do it for me in the fish department. It’s time to fall back to the tried and true.
As I’ve mentioned before, we’ve been fans of Yoshi Fujita for a long time now. We first found him at the now-defunct Grandeho Kamekyo on Valencia Street. Immediately we loved Yo’s upbeat personality and canny eye for rockin’-fresh fish. Plus, he would stock things that at that time were not so common in the average sushi joint around town, like uni (sea urchin) and ankimo (monkfish liver). We would go often with our friend Hugh, who like me is an adventurous sushi eater, and we would roll our eyes orgasmically over the delectable delicacies. Yo disappeared suddenly from Grandeho, reappearing as the chef at Daimaru on Sanchez/16th when it opened, which promptly became our new favorite restaurant.
After a couple years, Yo again mysteriously disappeared. We
encountered him at, of all places, a chi-chi dot-com corporate holiday
party for the company I was working at at the time, circa 1998; he was
working a sushi stand. He excitedly told us he was opening his own
place, a sushi restaurant in combination with a bar/club. Yo’s Sushi
Club first opened as part of the Voodoo Lounge on Mission (now Savanna Jazz).
It was strange enough having a sushi restaurant in the front portion of
a rock-and-roll bar (though there’s a futomaki joke in the making
there); but when things fell apart between Yo and the bar owner, it got
untenable, especially since the bar side controlled all liquor, including sake.
Finally, a few years back, Yo managed to open his own place independently, where he remains today. Yo’s Sushi Club is a hovel of a restaurant, positioned near the nexus of Mission and 30th, an area that has a remarkable array of good restaurants, or at the very least great diversity of cuisines. This is a low-on-the-food-chain kind of restaurant. It’s not glamorous or even especially pretty. The menu is concise: sushi. If you want teriyaki or tempura or gimmicky rolls made with caramel and Rice Krispies, you’re out of luck. Yo serves fish, fresh fish and nothing but the fish.
It’s not to say that he doesn’t have a few tricks up his sleeve. Among the nigiri we had was the "voodoo salmon," with shiso leaf, spicy sauce and scallion. It was quite good, but at the end of the day you’re best served by sticking to the fish. Yo always stocks the freshest uni available, cool, silky and redolent of the sea. I’m also partial to his hotate (scallop), butterflied over the rice and lightly infused with the oils of the slice of lemon perched atop.
Best of all, we ate our fill and then some, and the bill came to a paltry $40 for the two of us, including a small bottle of nigori sake. Oishikatta desu ne.
Yo’s Sushi Club
3300 Mission St (near 30th)