Many a times, Pdho and I have made pit stops by the Ferry Building while doing our run along the Embarcadero, and Delica has been one of my few favorite places to grab a quick snack or hot lunch. During the daytime, Delica serves a variety of salads, bento boxes and sushi rolls, but in the evening, full tables get set up and it turns into a sit-down sushi restaurant. Most of the reviews on Yelp reflect their lunch time offering, and like most of the Yelpers, I have enjoyed the variety of deep-fried cakes and some of their salads and other hot foods served during the day. However, I’ve never eaten there in the evening, so I was curious to check it out. The plan was to go after our evening run, but it was supposed to rain so we decided to skip the exercise and go straight for the sushi. =)
It’s actually quite interesting how the place sets up for evening dinner service. A handful of high tables and chairs are set up to accommodate about 15-20 people, at most. I think most of the diners are probably a fair number of people looking to grab a drink or quick bite before catching the ferry back across the bay, so they offer some decent Happy Hours specials. However, I think given the proprietor/chef of Delica is a Japanese native, there seems to be (at least that evening) a group of Japanese businessmen eating there as well.
Since it was happy hour, we ordered the lotus chips which were on special for $3. The chips were thin and crispy, but I think they were a little bit too oily. Maybe if we had some beer, the chips might have washed down better. So even though I liked the taste of the chips, I really didn’t enjoy the oiliness.
The Spicy Salmon and King Fish roll were also on happy hour special for $4 instead of $6. The fish inside the roll was pretty good, but what I really liked was the small crispy balls sprinkled on top. Along with the spicy mayo, it added some nice flavor and texture to the hand roll.
The Spicy Tuna Dip was minced Big Eye tuna mixed with chili, topped with avocado and served with tortilla chips. This tasted a little bit on the bland side even though it was supposed to be spicy. The avocado added a nice creaminess, but it still needed a little more oil, acidity and something else to bring out some more flavor. I was a little disappointed by how flat this dish turned out to be.
This dish was 6 pieces of wild Hokkaido scallop served carpaccio-style with a yuzu and olive oil dressing. The lightness of the preparation allowed the freshness of the scallop to come out, but I am used to this dish having a little more acidity.
The Chicken Karrage was quite flavorful, but like the lotus chips, it was much too oily. The chicken was very well-marinaded and tasted very good. I also liked the outer batter used to coat the chicken. It was crispy and added some nice texture, but because the whole thing was so oily, it did taste a little soggy on the inside.
It turns out that Delica is all about sustainable fish, and they source from some farm in Japan which emphasizes that they only harvest farmed fish and avoid any impact on the wild fish population. All the sushi tasted very clean and fresh, but aside from that, it was hard to describe it any other way. The fish to rice ratio was good, which is always a big thing for me. I really liked that they gave us a huge piece of aburi toro, like double the size of any of the other sushi. As usual, it was probably my favorite of the sushi we ordered, but they were all pretty good.
All in all, I liked the food here and I wouldn’t mind coming back. The sushi is probably not as strong as the “depachika” selection. According to an entry I read on Yelp, “depachika” refers to the food delis located on the basement floors of many, if not all, of the major department stores in Japan. These places were like heaven on earth for me. Almost every imaginable Japanese edible were served at a variety of different stalls and counters throughout the entire floor. The salads, cakes, and curries at Delica were similar to what you would find at these delis. This deli food tasted pretty good, but I think my biggest complaint (aside from the oiliness in some of the dishes) is that the prices are a little high for the food. I guess like most of the shops and restaurants in the Ferry Building, the prices here are on the high side for the food it serves, but I suppose that is what you get with having such a prime location. Needless to say, I’ll probably be back, at least for lunch, because I do like the croquettes and shrimp cakes.
1 Ferry Building #45
San Francisco, CA 94105
PAFO Ratings for Delica:
Price 3 stars
Ambiance 2½ stars
Food 3½ stars
Overall rating 3 stars