Occupation: Video Editor
Location: San Francisco
Favorite Restaurant: Kabuto Sushi
Reviewed Kabuto Sushi: Friday, July 29, 2011
Kabuto is one of my go-to places for what I call “experimental sushi.” Combining flavors like seared foie gras with raspberry vinaigrette and buttery hamachi with stone ground mustard and sliced fresh pear, Kabuto challenges your palate to let go and experience something more than classic sushi and sashimi.
Kabuto also carries traditional sushi rolls like spicy tuna and dragon rolls, which you can find in the regular portion of 1 roll (6 pieces). Special “experimental” sushi usually comes in two pieces, or even a cocktail glass, as I found when I ordered the Valentine. It was grilled eel and seared foie gras on top of a bed of caviar with just a drizzle of balsamic vinegar…heaven. The fish is always fresh, which is important when ordering the Hamachi Pear. The hamachi fish is so buttery, fresh, and soft, your teeth slice right through it. It sits on a lump of rice, with a slice of fresh pear and a dollop of stone ground mustard. It’s one of the most unusual pairings I’ve ever had, and the only place I’ve found it is at Kabuto.
Usually I stick with sushi at Kabuto, but this time I also ordered the Tamago Zousui, which is a brothy rice dish filled with comforting fried egg and scallions. Quintessential comfort food. Finally, I always order the ceviche, Kabuto’s take on the traditional seafood dish. Citrus-marinated fish is placed on a bed of rice and nestled into a nori wrap. The perfect burst of acidic citrus with the salty, seaweed flavor, and a hint of jalapeño at the end.
You’ll find you often have to wait a bit to be served at Kabuto; often, all the tables are full and there is a line out the door. Waitresses often whiz by in a blur, but when your food arrives, it is sublime. For such a small space, the décor is minimal, clean, and airy, and you can sit comfortably at a table or at the bar.
You just won’t find many sushi places that will meld together such contrasting flavors and make it work. I go to Kabuto not just when I’m hungry, but when I’m hungry for that “perfect bite.”
Occupation: Former HR Executive
Favorite Restaurant: La Mexicana Restaurant
Reviewed Kabuto Sushi: Tuesday, August 9, 2011
I learned that Kabuto stands for the helmet of the samurai warrior, a painting of which hangs on the wall in this brightly colored, small restaurant. We had reservation for 5, and the table was waiting when we arrived at 6:30pm. I have only eaten sushi 2 or 3 times before, however I have always enjoyed it. What I soon realized from eating tapas both in the States and in Spain is that we were in a “Japanese tapas” bar with small, delicious morsels of tasty seafood delights, primarily. They had New York steak and grilled lamb ribs on the menu as well, which didn’t seem to fit this type of dining. If you want steak, go to a steak or chophouse, right? I also learned that eating sushi requires more work than ordering traditional fare.
The place was a bit noisy, and it was packed all evening. This kept the two waitpersons very busy. We ordered sake and beer to start, as it took us all awhile to navigate two very extensive menus as well as a long list of the day’s specials. One was a dinner menu, and the other a special sushi menu. The beverage list was extensive, so all in all it took awhile to figure out what to have.
I opened with tofu miso soup, which, as a “soup guy,” I can say was typical of miso soup. It was hot and enjoyable. I then had a fresh Caesar salad, Kabuto-style, which had a faint mustard style dressing which was very unique. It had a few sprouts, sliced grapes and sprinkles of a small string-like cheese. It wasn’t as crisp and cold as I would like, but it was tasty. I love tempura and had only one order, but two would have been perfect, as you only got two shrimp. It was lightly cooked, and the crispy coating was very tasty. The veggies would be very nice as well. I then had the ono, and it was delicious and delicate, so I ordered one more. I then had the Medai butterfly fish, and it was just ok. It was a little tough and chewy. I then had Tasmanian salmon, and it was amazing. It was light, “melt in your mouth” great. For dessert, I had the fried tempura vanilla ice cream ball. It really needed a knife to get into it, but was well worth the spoon digging.
All in all, I enjoyed it very much. Portions were typical size, although, the Piri-Kara Nasu eggplant, while tasty, was only three tiny slices, not worth the price. While sushi is always a little pricy, it’s always great to eat delicious food and, in this case, get free food prep entertainment at the same time. Sitting at the bar would be best for the show.
I don’t want to weight this too heavily, however where it fell a little short was the service for water, but with only two people serving about 30 -35 people, they were very busy. It was also a little noisy for conversation, but as the evening wore down, and the crowd thinned out it, it was perfect. I would say for a nice romantic evening, don’t come in until after 8:30 or 9pm. On the other hand, if you are an undercover agent/spy, it’s perfect.
Lastly, as is the case with sushi, if you keep eating/drinking and can’t stop, it can get a little pricy.
Occupation: Hotel Sales Person / Freelance Writer
Favorite Restaurant: Pazzia Restaurant & Pizzeria
Reviewed La Mexicana Restaurant: Thursday, August 11, 2011
While the food is really good, this tiny place with no ambiance isn’t worth the 45 minute wait, not to mention the indifferent service from a staff that doesn’t seem to have time to explain any specials, ask how things are with our meal, or even follow their own waiting list.
We waited outside — no room inside really — with a few other people. While we were there before most of them, they seem to seat people faster who complained rather than those of us who signed up on the list. In fact, from the batch of people we were with, we arrived second out of about five parties and were seated last.
While I wanted to sit at a table, we took the counter, as we were tired of waiting. There was a table available, and I asked to sit there, but they said it was reserved. Yet when I called in advance, they said they don’t take reservations. You’d think at the counter you’d actually see the sushi being made, but the chefs are on a platform, so you can’t see them create the sushi. But you do get a good view of the dirty dishes they left on the counter during our entire meal. The counter also wasn’t very clean, in fact we had to wipe it down ourselves.
When I dine out, I look for quality, service, atmosphere, and value. Kabuto only delivered on quality. Yes, the food was really good, but I’d rather dine in a restaurant that provides good service and actually might appreciate my patronage.