I love sushi, especially the really fresh, authentic, and sometimes unique kinds. Another thing I love is a hidden gem, both finding one and experiencing one. I managed to find a hidden gem of a Sushi restaurant in SF, called the Sushi Time, underground.
It really didn’t look like a sushi restaurant (or any type of restaurant) from outside, other than the sign that says “Sushi Time” around it. It looked like a glass tube of a metro train car or something sticking out from a wall. The entrance was small, with lots of Japanese decorations, and the fun, cheerful decoration continued inside all the way from the entrance to the back. We were greeted with very warm smile and welcome by Japanese owner and staff. I was super happy to see that it was operated by Japanese people, that meant that I was going to have some good, authentic sushi!
Inside was a bit narrow, just like a train car. Even though it is located underground, the glass tube exterior brought in lots of light. In order to provide some privacy, they had bamboo and cloth covering on that side. Not many seating there, the sushi counter extended about half or a bit more than half of this “train car” shaped restaurant, and several tables and chairs behind it. Once it gets crowded, it can get a bit warm, since they don’t have any window or good ventilation (they had a fan running at the back to provide some air flow). There were few Japanese staffs there, but not all of them were Japanese. Everyone was pretty nice, tentative and helpful.
They have a pretty great happy hour from 5pm – 6pm, so we went there right at 5pm. There were 2 other couples who were also there to get the happy hour special. We started off with some hot tea, but here, I got a happy surprise. They didn’t just have a regular green tea, they had selections of several different kinds of Japanese tea and some other kinds of tea, such as Sencha, Jasmine, Mugicha, Chamomile, Oolong, etc. We got Genmaicha ($1.50), which is a green tea with roasted brown rice. It was really great, I really enjoyed having Genmaicha which you don’t really find at most restaurants. We also got Miso Soup ($2), it was good but nothing really too special.
So, we ordered some sushi and sashimi from their happy hour menu. I believe the happy hour menu items are about a dollar or two cheaper than regular menu. We started off with Sashimi Five ($9.50), which comes with 3 pcs of salmon and 2 pcs of albacore tuna. I felt like the price was a bit high for 5 pcs of sashimi, especially to be on the Happy Hour menu. But, let me tell you, it was sooooooo good! They were fresh, rich, thick slices, that really just melt in your mouth kind of sashimi. So, as soon as we ate them, we thought that the price was well worth it. We actually put in another order of Sashimi Five… It was that good! Then, we ordered Albacore Tataki Sashimi ($8.50), which were seared white tuna sashimi, and it came with ponzu sauce. The tuna was nice thick pieces, and seared all around the edges. It was really good, but I think I prefer it less seared. It can get a bit too dry on the outside. It was still good, and the ponzu sauce added some nice citrus flavor.
Oh, if you ever wonder why sashimi is served with Shiso leaf at most Japanese restaurant, it has a really good reason and purpose. It is not just there because it looks pretty or gives nice color contrast. It also helps prevent food poisoning by killing any harmful bacteria or whatnot that could be in the fish. No matter how fresh or how clean the sashimi is, you can never know if it could contain a slight amount of something in there. The Shiso leaves kills those bad bacteria! Not only that, it leaves your mouth with fresher breath, after eating row fish. So, next time when you order sashimi, eat the leaves too! It is tasty and help you stay healthy at the same time!
So, its time for some sushi! We ordered Shrimp Tempura Roll ($5.50) and Spicy Tuna Roll ($5) from the Happy Hour menu, and also Natto Roll ($3.50) and Barbie Roll ($10.50) from regular menu. The Happy Hour menu is kind of limited, with only 6 kinds of basic rolls… Anyways, let’s get back to the sushi! The Shrimp Tempura Roll came with a thick, big tempura with some cucumbers, it was a big roll! The shrimp tempura was cooked very nicely, it was plump without being greasy, and very filling! The Spicy Tuna Roll came with white & red tuna, scallions, cucumbers, and spicy mayo sauce. It was again a very large roll, with nice amount of tuna, and the spicy mayo was very flavorful. It was really excellent, we ordered another one of the spicy tuna roll! Then, on to the regular menu items. The natto roll, which I always liked growing up, is a fermented soy beans. It is an acquired taste for those who never had them, but I love natto… it is very healthy and good for you too! Then, the Barbie Roll. They have several specialty rolls with very creative names, like Hello Kitty Roll, G.I.Joe Roll, Astro Boy Roll, etc. We went with the Barbie Roll, which comes with crab and avocado in the inside, and salmon and lemon on the outside. It was smooth and creamy in the inside, with nice thick, juicy salmon on the outside, and the lemon that was very thinly sliced gave that great pop of citrus flavor. It was very good, we enjoyed the unique creation.
After this, we were completely, overly full, and yes, very happy! It is always good to get some really nice, fresh sushi. And getting those big tempura and spicy tuna rolls for about $5 each was really great deal! The staff were very nice, more than one server came to check on us while dinner, our tea and water were always filled, and they were very helpful with whatever we needed. At the end they brought this nice wooden box, which contained our bill. I thought it was really cute and a nice way to providing the bill to the customer.
So, if you are in SF and want to get some fresh, delicious sushi, head over to the underground hidden gem, Sushi Time! They also have some nice selection of sake, if you want some sake to go with your sushi also. Or, you can stick to one of their very flavorful tea selections, either way, you will be happy with your choice of drink. And if you can make it there during the happy hour, you should definitely try, it is worth it!
Sushi Time – 2275 Market St, San Francisco, CA 94114