Many lists including Zagat have applauded Sushi Ran for serving some of the best (if not the best) sushi in the Bay Area. I have talked to a few friends who have eaten there. In fact, one friend in particular insisted that it would be just as good if not better than Zushi Puzzle, but much less expensive. Hard to believe considering the ambiance of the restaurant, but in spite of other very similar praise-filled comments, I never got around to going to Sausalito to check it out. I know… Sausalito really isn’t very far, and one would think with how gloomy the summer has been, I would have taken every opportunity to get out of the city. Unfortunately, considering that time seems to be in limited quantity lately, it takes more than pure curiosity to go that far for sushi.
My original intent was to make the excursion into an all day outing where I would start kayaking around the bay during the day and end with dinner, but the morning was filled with random errands and the weather wasn’t as cooperative as I hoped. I decided to save kayaking for another day. Nevertheless, since Pdho and I were actually able to get Pcess, ElleC, and MissMM to clear some time for an excursion in search of good sushi, the five of us headed across the Golden Gate Bridge to see if Sushi Ran would live up to its reputation.
The Seaweed salad was made with cucumber, avocado and rice vinegar, and granted, although it didn’t necessarily taste earth-shattering, it was still some pretty tasty seaweed. I suppose the fanciest part of the dish was the fact that they used different varieties of seaweed consisting of various shapes and sizes.
The presentation of the Hawaiian Ahi Poke was very nice. The nicely chopped pieces of ahi tuna were neatly placed on a circular-formed mound of avocado and topped with kukui nuts, all of which sat in a small puddle of seaweed sauce. The tuna was very fresh and flavorful, something I rarely can say about tuna. Generally speaking, I find red tuna to be pretty bland. However, in this case, you could still discern the natural taste of the tuna through the light marinade, and I could tell it was fresh fish.
I remember this being the last dish that MissMM added to the order right as the waitress was about to walk away. This was definitely one of the highlights in my opinion mainly because in spite of the preparations of each vegetable appetizer seeming so simple, the taste was so refined and complex with great depths of flavor. Starting from the left, there was the garlic sugar snap peas, aji nori potatoes, spaghetti squash, and ginger grilled eggplant. My favorite was definitely the aji nori potatoes which was cooked nice and crispy, but unfair as it may be, the air of truffle oil was intoxicating and really made those potatoes sing to me. The other vegetables were equally flavorful. I almost wished there was more of it.
The Caramelized Rock Shrimp was another very delicious, well-prepared dish. The shrimps were so fresh that you could still taste the sea in them. Moreover, they were coated in a slightly sweet but subtly salty sauce that is very similar to the caramelized sauce used in many Vietnamese dishes. Fresh water chestnuts were also added and gave some additional crunch and texture to the dish. I really liked it, and like the Vegetable sampler, I really wished there was more of it.
The rolls were probably the snoozer part of the meal. Not that they weren’t good. They just weren’t all that interesting, although they tried. The Spicy Tuna Roll was made with a miso aioli, gari, Japanese cucumber, and shiso. Instead of using the siracha sauce or some other kind of hot sauce, they sprinkled a mix of seven types of Japanese spices to give the roll its expected kick. In the end, it still tasted like a very good Spicy Tuna Roll, and the same could be said of the Salmon Citrus Roll. One thing I can say is that instead of drowning the rolls in some creamy sauce to hide the quality of the fish, at least the kept the flavors simple to allow the freshness of the fish to come through.
The Wagyu sushi was much discussed in Yelp reviews. It was also the single most expensive thing on our bill, but I would say it was worth the bite. The beef was A5 strip loin from the Miyazaki prefecture, which I would assume to be some farm or something. As you can tell from the picture, there was so much marbling in the Wagyu beef, that one bite into it caused the whole thing to utterly melt in your mouth. It was so rich and fatty. Delicious, sinfully so!
Although I probably love really good sushi more than anything else I could possibly eat, I have to say that pictures of sushi tend to be kind of uninteresting. I mean in looking at pictures alone, I think it would be hard to distinguish sashimi from Sushi in a Box versus the omakase from Matsuhisa. However, even more challenging for me is writing interesting things about sushi. I can tell what is good from what is passable, and I know what I like versus really love, but somehow I can never find the words to describe any of this in any sort of engaging way.
Despite all of this, it would be remiss of me to not include pictures of the nigiri, but rather than bore my faithful readers to death, I’ll just say that the fish is awesome! We ordered the salmon, white tuna, toro, shima aji and hamachi. All very good. Fresh and tasty and definitely head and shoulders above your average sushi place. It gave us a nice sampling of their menu.
All in all, the experience was very good. We got to sample a variety of different things on the menu and most of them were very well done. The fish tastes solidly fresh, and the hot food is delicious. I think I might consider sitting at the sushi bar next time. I often hear that the experience can be quite different at the bar, and I think it would give me an opportunity to sample different types of sushi that may be on special or only served at the sushi bar. Since I have been an avid sushi eater for so long now, I find that the exciting part for me is usually being able to try new and interesting types of fish. We kind of stuck to the basics this time around, but I’ll be curious to try the sushi bar next time.
107 Caledonia Street
Sausalito, CA 94965
PAFO Ratings for Sushi Ran:
Price 4 stars
Ambiance 3½ stars
Food 4 stars
Overall rating 3½ stars