It’s always takes a lot of thorough research to identify a worthwhile sushi place to try, and with the variety of sushi places that span the spectrum in SF you can imagine how difficult a task this can be. If I had my way, I would prefer hands on research, but Pdho is rather picky when it comes to sushi. As much as we both like sushi, I think it bothers him much more to eat bad sushi or even just average sushi. Since we’ve already found some really great sushi at Zushi Puzzle and Kabuto, I’m always very careful with any new choice of a sushi restaurant, because there are some pretty high bars to live up to. As a result, we don’t actually go eat sushi as often as I would like…. but we still go. =)
So after doing my due diligence, I decided that Tataki South might be worth a try. There are two locations in San Francisco, and we went to the one located in Noe Valley. The menu emphasizes sustainability and offers a selection of fresh sushi as well as some fancy rolls and hot foods from the grill. I’m not totally sure I understand the whole concept of sustainability especially as it applies to sushi, but I guess it’s an effort to avoid negatively impacting the environment so specific species of fish, mainly farm-raised, rather than wild-caught (I think), are sourced.
We started with the Enoki Dreams from the Robata menu. These were skewers of enoki mushrooms wrapped in bacon and grilled nice and crispy. I liked the juiciness of these particular type of mushrooms, and they have a lighter, subtler taste that allows for the saltiness of the bacon flavor to really come through. These were absolutely delicious! As Pdho always says, “you can’t go wrong with bacon!”
The Kurodai was from the Tataki menu and consisted of 8 pieces of farmed black sea bream topped with avocado, habañero masago and drizzled with a jalapeño ponzu. I have never had sea bream before, but it has some pretty neutral taste kind of like a yellowtail so it serves as the perfect back drop for this particular profile of Latin flavors.
When we saw the sushi chef searing the scallops for the Hotate Tataki, Pdho and I were quite excited. There were 6 succulent pieces of farmed Hokkaido scallops topped with a citrus aioli, rice crackers, lemon zest and masago. Although it was good, I thought it was going to be better. In spite of the combination of orange and lemony flavors, it really didn’t taste all that sweet or tangy. I liked the texture of the scallops, but I don’t think there was enough flavor from all the accoutrements to really make this dish pop as much as I hoped it would.
We ordered a selection of different sushi to try. From left to right, top to bottom, there is Artic Char, Spanish Mackerel, Albacore Tuna, Aji Horse Mackerel and Faux Nagi. The Faux Nagi is their take on unagi but instead of using eel (which I think would go against the sustainability theme), they use wild black cod and prepare it essentially the same way as they would unagi. It really was quite delicious and probably the best tasting of the bunch. The rest of the sushi was good but with the exception of the Albacore Tuna, most of it was unmemorable. It’s not like any of the fish really stood out or was even prepared in any special way. I tasted pretty fresh though, kind of clean, in fact.
The Golden State Roll was probably the most memorable tasting dish of the evening. The roll was made of spicy scallop, chopped apple and topped with seared albacore, avocado, yuzu and tobiko. It was the perfect complement of flavors, spicy, sweet and I also liked the bit of crunch that the apples added. It was absolutely delicious and a definite must order!!
All in all, we were satisfied by the end of the meal. The ambiance is kind of nice giving off a cozy neighborhood-y type vibe. There is a good variety in terms of offering a little bit of something for those that eat raw and those that don’t. All of the the food tasted pretty good and was well-prepared, but in the end, I still don’t think it has burst into my top 5 list of favorite sushi places in SF. It probably isn’t hovering at the bottom of the list either though. I wouldn’t mind going back or maybe at least picking up some take-out as it seemed like quite a few people were doing on this particular evening.
1740 Church St
San Francisco, CA 94131
PAFO Ratings for Tataki South:
Ambiance 3½ stars
Food 3½ stars
Overall rating 3½ stars