You can also find my article here on bayarea.com: https://www.bayarea.com/eat/taste-off/best-peninsula-sushi-restaurants/
Sushi is like edible art, which means presentation is everything when it comes to this Japanese delicacy. While no one does it better than the motherland, Japan, there are several sushi restaurants on the San Francisco Peninsula that come close. In fact, the Peninsula has some of the best sushi in the Bay Area — restaurants where the sushi chefs are just as much of the star attraction as the edible art they create. These five sushi restaurants listed below combine high-quality ingredients in a desirable setting with great customer service and are perfect for any beginner or seasoned sushi connoisseur.
BEST SUSHI BAR: SUSHI SAM’S EDOMATA (SAN MATEO)
When eating sushi, everyone knows that the best seat in the house is at the sushi bar and Sushi Sam’s is the most lively of them all. With what seems like a constant line out the door, Sushi Sam’s is a Peninsula staple that’s worth the wait. Always opt for bar seating, and, if you’re lucky, you may even meet Sushi Sam himself. If it’s your first time, I recommend the omakase sashimi which consists of the freshest catches of the day like the buttery toro (fatty tuna) or the uni (sea urchin) and make sure to order their famous green tea tiramisu for dessert.
BEST HIDDEN GEM: GINTEI (SAN BRUNO)
In an unassuming location on the busy street of El Camino Real, Gintei is a perfect little gem hidden in San Bruno. When you walk into the restaurant, what you’ll find is a nicely decorated yet simple sushi restaurant with a handwritten menu of the fresh fish options flown in from the famous Tsukiji fish market in Japan. Come on the early side because some items may be crossed off the menu later in the day. Order a la carte if you’re a sushi connoisseur and make sure you try the Wagyu beef or the Hokkaido scallops. This Michelin recommended sushi spot is sure to become your new favorite sushi stop.
BEST BANG-FOR-YOUR-BUCK: AMAMI (SAN BRUNO AND SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO)
A neighborhood favorite, Amami is known for their generous 10-piece Omakase served with fresh wasabi. This place always has a line, so be sure to make a reservation in advance. In what looks to be an old fast food restaurant, the San Bruno restaurant seems to be their busiest location, so instead, opt for their other restaurant, Amami San, in South City where the famed Chef Alan practices his craft. If you still have room after eating the omakase, try their delicious oyster shooters with quail eggs.
With its one Michelin star, Wakuriya is a tiny sushi restaurant with just 16 seats and hard-to-get reservations because they only have one thing on their menu. Wakuriya’s kaiseki menu changes every first Wednesday of the month and features a nine-course meal for $98. Yes, it’s a bit of a splurge, but what you’ll get is a delicate meal that combines traditional Japanese cuisine mixed with the creativity of Chef Katsuhiro Yamasaki. Along with a starter, appetizer, palate cleanser, and other fish cooked in a variety of ways, you’ll also get some of the chef’s choice sashimi which makes this a unique, once-in-a-lifetime sushi experience that’s worth the price tag.
BEST OVERALL EXPERIENCE: SUSHI YOSHIZUMI (SAN MATEO)
If you’re looking for a no frills, strictly sushi restaurant, Sushi Yoshizumi is your place. This San Mateo sushi restaurant opened in 2015, so it’s fairly new on the Peninsula, but is already making a name for itself for being an authentic Edomae sushi restaurant. You’ll only find the freshest ingredients here, including the Bay Area’s best catches of the day. This is a unique dining experience with only eight total seats, carefully created by sushi chef Akira Yoshizumi, whose resume spans decades to perfect his craft. Reservations are a must, and the omakase meal is all that’s on the menu (and not cheap!) but could change daily. So, if you’re looking for a great place to celebrate an occasion be sure to bookmark this Michelin starred sushi destination.