The Bay Area Sushi Master - Sushi Yoshizumi [Thoughts + Pics]



Looks like a great meal, shame about the service. You ate very well on this trip, jealous!

Hmmm never had uni paired with kanpyo, new combination to check out.

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Thanks @Sgee. :slight_smile: I think you’d love that combination. It was brilliant and delicious (especially with that highest grade Bafun Uni mixed in there). :wink:

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Great report @Chowseeker1999, I’m glad you enjoyed it. Too bad about the service. I’m surprised you didn’t like the kurumaebi, that was one of my best bites there and reminded me of the ones I had in japan.

Ah looks like you got the @beefnoguy special. I believe @beefnoguy suggested that combo to yoshizumi-san after having it in japan.


I may have drooled over my screen reading your review.
As always, your review is flawless. I always feel as if I was at the table with you, @Chowseeker1999. Next trip to the north may require stops in SF for some of the delights you enjoyed. Thanks!


This was the report I was waiting for!!!

Very happy you enjoyed the meal! I take it you are used to your favorite LA places so Sushi Yoshizumi is very different. There is far more umami in his nikiri, and a lot more savory. This is actually a more bolder style that I personally prefer. As much as I like Mori, I think Yoshizumi is on another level altogether. But opinions are purely subjective and I totally get where you are coming from with some of your criticisms. However in relation, the amount of work Maru san puts in is not comparable to what Yoshizumi san does.

I think Chef is fully aware of the problems with service. Good people are REALLY hard to find, train, and keep up here. I hope you can overlook it and continue to return someday. The joy of coming different times of the year is to experience seasonality and techniques applied.

You got shirauo (simmered/steamed) and did you notice the strip of kanpyo around it instead of nori? THAT is true Edomae combination, dating back to Hanaya Yohei era. @sffood you need to see this. You can find shirauo at other places, but they typically serve it raw. Yoshizumi san is the only chef around who will take the time to serve it cooked and still have flavor, texture, and umami. Nobody else does kurumaebi the way he does, and when it is perfectly warm and medium rare, and you taste the essence and purity of prawn and its natural sweetness it is unbeatable.

Glad you enjoyed Yasuke! I knew you would like Potari Potari. Too bad you didn’t enjoy Midorikawa…I guess you are not at the enjoyment level yet where you can truly appreciate full bodied Junmai sake and that’s ok it took me a few years before I dived into that genre.

While it may look like whole grain mustard, it is unmistakenably Japanese karashi and a good quality one. You would be surprised to know that it is true Edomae, since wasabi was not prevalent and very expensive. Fresh wasabi works great for certain applications but I have found that at Sushi Yoshizumi mustard is brilliant with certain flavor profiles of fish, and nobody else can pull it off except for him. The hotaru ika is also miso marinated and grilled on binchotan, which is why the flavors are so explosive and pairs brilliantly with sake.

The katsuo this time of year is less fatty, so he skips the step of smoking it over straw (aka katsuo tattaki). The umami from the marination more than makes up for it. Did you smell it before eating it? Super aromatic. Even more so during the fall/winter when he smokes it to help cut down the fat a bit but seal in the flavor!

I had the exact same head/tip piece last time as you did for the komochi yari ika. For the record it is not stuffed, but pregnant (komochi), and the “stuffing” are its eggs. Did you drink the remaining nimono liquid? It’s pure gold.

His saba bousushi is consistently the best. He serves saba from different regions of Japan based on his sourcing and what is best in season. Next week the source of the saba could be from a different region.

The noresore is raw but it is mixed with konowata (fermented sea cucumber innards). The stickiness of the two textures come together nicely, and the salinity of the innards gives a boost of flavor to the noresore. It’s quite a genius combination. Chef does spend time to think about different ideas, so he never sits on an iteration for too long, thus increasing the value for repeat visits.

A LOT of work went into prepping the chutoro, to come out the way it did, with the flavor profile it has in addition the combination with his ethereal sushi rice preparation and seasoning (he uses the most expensive and top top quality sushi rice vinegars currently that a few very well regarded sushi chefs in Tokyo are using; it takes considerable skill and know how to use them properly). That particular preparation of the chutoro makes it a touch firmer, yet retains the explosive fatty umami flavors. It’s designed for sake pairing for sure.

Glad you liked the kohada, first time I’ve seen it with that thin piece of kelp on top. He adjusts the preparation of the kohada based on location, time of the year, fat content and thus the amount of vinegar and salt (leaner cuts could have a more stronger pungent marination), intuition and years of experience, and he changes the knifework and drape of it as well to switch things up (as well as to adjust the mouthfeel for the customer, a detail that gets lost with so many generic diners and Michelin chasers). Nobody else in town can do all the different styles/cuts and drapes like he does, and if you could see all the variations he has done, it is amazing. He has prepped some of the best kohada I’ve had in my life, better than Mori Sushi, or even some places in Tokyo. It is a different style nonetheless and sometimes some pieces are less fatty or moist than others, but still enjoyable regardless.

That seaweed soup is actually a clear dashi made with the carcasses of mixed aged fish! It’s got a ton of flavor though more subtle.

Yoshizumi’s katsutera style tamago has evolved from the sponge cake to this creamy flan. It’s ridiculously awesome.

@PorkyBelly actually Sushi Mitzutani Tokyo was supposedly the inventor of the kanpyo + uni combination. I saw it in a blog years ago of a Japanese blogger diver who had terminal cancer, and prior to his blog being deactivated he posted his final wish dream meal there. For me I tried this combo first time elsewhere, but gave up due to the poor quality of kanpyo by other places. I felt after having a kanpyo roll for the first time at Sushi Yoshizumi when they first opened that this was indeed the place to try it, so I requested it. The rest is history… he will serve it on a whim to certain customers depending on how he feels and whether the quality of the uni holds. Of course Yoshizumi san already knew about this combo, though it took customer feedback to exclaim how great it was (me lol). So yes, I will take credit for suggesting that, but it was not because I had it in Japan.

Thank you again for a wonderful breakdown of your meal! It felt like I was there next to you!


Hi @PorkyBelly,

Thank you for the great recommendation! :wink: You inspired us to finally give it a try (along w/ @beefnoguy and @BradFord). :slight_smile:

The Kurumaebi wasn’t “bad” at all. I liked it, but at least on this particular dinner it didn’t sing; but it may have just been my taste buds. I’m looking forward to a return and trying it again. :wink: Thanks.

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Hi @beefnoguy,

And Thank YOU! so much for all the encouragement and recommendations to finally go as well. :slight_smile: And thanks for the additional info here, fascinating!

Yes, I think your adjective makes more sense for Yoshizumi-san’s Nikiri: It’s more savory. Again, I’ve never had Nikiri like this before, so it’s probably just palate and getting used to that flavor. I’m sure after another visit (or so) I’ll appreciate it and get used to it even more.

Re: Service - Yah I’d imagine competition is tough in the Bay Area for good servers (especially with so many fine dining options and those establishments’ staffing needs). It was just noticeably disappointing as mentioned above, but the actual food and time with Yoshizumi-san more than made up for it. :slight_smile:

Yes! The Kanpyo strip, sorry I was typing up so many things I forgot to mention that. I had no idea that was an OG Edomae combination. Thanks for that insight.

We’ve enjoyed some Junmai Sake before, but it’s probably just my taste buds and preference. I’ll be glad to try more Junmai and see how I like it.

Re: Mustard. Oh! It was Karashi? Strange, I didn’t notice either one distinctly. I was so blown away by the flavor explosion of the Miso marinated Hotaru Ika (it was AMAZING! with SO much flavor throughout the Ika), that the Karashi was stealthily in the background then. I’ll adjust my post, thanks. :slight_smile: (and yes! a great pairing with the Hitakami Yasuke Sake - Thanks!)

The Katsuo: No, I didn’t think to smell it before eating it, darn! :smile: I’ll be sure to try smelling it next time, thanks. :slight_smile:

For the Komochi Yari Ika: Ah, it was pregnant(!). Yah I only wrote down how Yoshizumi-san introduced it to us as (he said it was “stuffed with squid eggs”) but I’m sure he was just giving us (newcomers to his restaurant) a basic, easier description. Yes the nimono liquid was delicious. :slight_smile: I loved that dish!

Re: Chutoro - I’m still dreaming about that piece! :heart: Thanks for the info about his rice vinegars.

Re: Kohada - Yah, I realize my sample size is small (just 1 visit), so it may very well be time of year, the particular fish he got vs. what Mori-san got on our visit, etc. I’m sure with his skills and how he delivered so many amazing dishes this visit that the Kohada could very well exceed Mori-san’s. It was just so far, on this particular dinner, it was great, but Mori-san’s Kohada we got last year was even better (just that particular bite).

And I loved that Kanpyo + Uni Temaki combo! Thank you for influencing Yoshizumi-san to make it. :wink:

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Hitakami Yasuke is designed specifically to pair with white fish, and umami rich shellfish and that includes squid (whether it was aori ika or the marinated grill hotaru ika on skewer), and some sushi though overall it otherwise works nicely, although how much of it you think pairs is purely subjective. Outside of Sushi Sho Waikiki and maybe Sushi Ginza Onodera, Sushi Yoshizumi is the only other place where you can get Yasuke Junmai Ginjo in the USA Mainland.

You totally get this place already, compared to a lot of their run of the mill customers. Some of them don’t even have the level of appreciation and understanding like folks on this board… but this style and approach clearly is not for everyone and certainly not beginner level, or those who prefer lighter flavor slice and serve sushi. His sushi rice clearly has a lot of umami, flavor, some acidity and more, so the neta that goes on top needs to be treated and seasoned in a way that matches. Those who are used to slice and serve, older style “casual Edomae masking as Edomae” sushi which was more prevalent before, may find it cumbersome on their tastebuds, while not understanding or appreciating the skills and reasoning behind all of this. With his restaurant he is truly educating those who are willing, what this should be about.

This place is probably the absolute best for pairing the right sake with sushi and otsumami. There are certain sake that will only work here but the same kind of sake won’t have the same effect at places like Mori due to the profile of the food that will match less with sake. Again this is also purely subjective. You are already far ahead of many customers tastes for sake and have more exposure and experience than most.

Maybe you can try the sake pairing next time.

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Hi @beefnoguy,

Thank you again for your additional insight. :slight_smile:

Actually, we let Yoshizumi-san choose the Sake for us, so as we finished, he would suggest the next one, so all 3 Sake we had were his choices essentially like a “pairing” but not as many offerings and exactly matched I suppose. Generally they were all great at their respective times in the Omakase. Thanks.

Hmmm let me throw in my 2 cents about sake pairing.

With my limited experience in Tokyo, you only can experience a true pairing (one sake per dish or across two or three) at very specific restaurants and/or sake bars. It’s much easier with otsumami or very small dishes. There are a some folks who are extremely talented at doing this and have a very loyal and rabid following, but they are the exception.

Other than that, a lot of places stock sake based on what they can buy, perhaps what is in season, and the business owners have to think about what may or may not work. In actuality, outside of a select few, not a lot of thought is put into a sake list and there is not as much consideration even into thinking how to pick sake that matches food on a wider scale. This is not just in Japan but also in California and likely parts of the USA.

The other thing is that a lot of chefs (we are talking sushi / sushi omakase places now) are not exactly building their food to structure properly with sake.

The other difficulty with sake pairing is, you have drinkers at many different levels, and in fact a lot of them beginners or very casual. Not everyone will appreciate a Junmai or Junmai Ginjo. A good list (or inventory if not a list) has to have enough choices to fuel the demands of different tastes and levels of appreciation. And the choices made by the chef or owner needs to be at a minimum, something enjoyable, if not something that is a direct match or as close as possible.

Because you are not getting a small shot of sake per piece of nigiri or exactly for one small course/otsumami, the other difficult part is having sake on a list that works generally well enough with most dishes, and it is hard to pace and figure out when a customer will finish a current sake, and decide the next one to serve, using best guess/intution and the rest up to chance/luck if the customer likes it or not (subjective).

Last but not least, “matching” can be subjective. What I think works, may not be something you feel that works well. You mentioned you picked up on the salinity and savory / heavy umami factor in the nikiri or tsume… it is a completely different style than other places, so if you are used to a lighter / sweeter nikiri, then either this will be a matter of personal preference or needs more time to get used to. Maru san is from Osaka region and probably has worked in kaiseki restaurants too, so his approach which works for him and his fans, is generally lighter more delicate flavors…and thus certain profiles of sake would work best there. On the other hand with SY, there is more intense umami and structure… the match with the sake then has to be more specific. For example: personally I cannot see myself drinking Yasuke anywhere else in the USA (well maybe except at Sushi Sho Waikiki), and it would be a waste having it with ramen or some random izakaya that doesn’t have good quality seafood (because of the lack of matching).

But I have to give it to Yoshizumi san, regardless of it all, his list is very well thought out compared to the competition (other sushi omakase joints, McChelin or not) and exists in its own realm. It’s unique and structured in a way that is versatile enough, and the profiles fit and/or go with the food pleasantly. The old school way of eating food to make sake tastes better rings true here, but in some cases drinking sake with the right piece of sushi or otsumami about halfway through chewing enhances the flavors so much more at times here as well (again subjective). With the dead silence of people around you, you wouldn’t know if they are experiencing mouthgasms, creaming their undies, or simply whether they are enjoying the food or not… like having to suppress their feelings of joy (or maybe they don’t appreciate it on the level we do)…so effing boring with a bunch of poker faces lol.


Nice info @beefnoguy, thank you! :slight_smile:

Great points about unless it’s one shot per course or nigiri, the “pairing” is definitely only “in tune” every once in a while (at the point I request Sake (1st course, 1st Sake), and then the other 2 points throughout this meal (2 other selections I asked Yoshizumi-san for at that point of the omakase). But all 3 did hold up pretty well throughout (there were no clashes at all). :slight_smile:

Yah, the silence was uncomfortable, but we got through it, happy enough to be the only people chatting it up with Yoshizumi-san that night. :sweat_smile: Is it usually quiet when you go?