Finding good sushi in the City is difficult. Add in the words “affordable” and “sustainable” and it becomes nearly impossible. Enter: Tataki.
First and foremost, what really sets Tataki apart from almost every other restaurant in San Francisco is their commitment to sustainable seafood. Ask yourself, and be honest, if you can tell the difference in taste between Yellowtail Tuna and Albacore Tuna? Or, for that matter, Yellowtail Tuna and Mackerel? If you’re anything like me, the answer is probably no. My sushi knowledge goes as far as knowing that I prefer firmer fish to buttery fish, shrimp tempura is magically delicious, and my rolls need to be dunked in wasabi-spiced soy sauce for ultimate satisfaction. Novice at best. So when I don’t see “traditional” sushi selections, like Bluefin Tuna, and am instead greeted with a list of Pole-Caught Skipjack Tuna (katsuo), Closed-Containment Farmed Striped Bass (Suzuki), and McFarland Springs Trout, I’m not disappointed.
But even for people with ultra discerning taste buds, there’s nothing disappointing about the food. Everything on the menu is delicious: the appetizers are light and each flavorful in their own way – the Ocean Salad made of cucumber and three types of algae is as refreshing as it gets and tastes like a bite of sea salt and health; the Poke is clean and spruced up with avocado and something that resembles a birds next to add crunch to your bite; and the Baked Mussels are a must-try.
The main courses are clearly focused on their staple ingredient, fish, all of which is incredibly fresh. And the rolls…well, the rolls are magical. The Golden State is one of the best rolls I’ve ever tried – who would’ve thought that apple and scallop could roll so well together? So creamy and original! And for those looking for a bit of a kick, they have quite a few delectable, spicy options – the Extinguisher and Spicy Tempura being my favorites. And if we’re talking about spice, you can’t overlook the Russian Roulette roll: crawfish, cucumber asparagus, tobiko, and scallop, cut into six pieces, and served around a huge shot of unfiltered sake. The reason? It’s called the Russian Roulette because on of the pieces contains a dollup of a super spicy secret sauce that has the potential to burn your tongue off, hence the shot of sake given to the lucky winner to quench their thirst. I happened to get that piece on the first try, and my mouth proceeded to burn for ten more minutes, until I couldn’t take it anymore an asked for a glass of milk.
And believe it or not, you actually should take a long, hard look at the vegetarian selections because my favorite roll on the menu is fish-free. In a thousand years I would never have thought that the flavors of eggplant, bell pepper, zucchini, and carrot in a ratatouille roll would blows me away. I don’t even like ratatouille! But somehow they make it work. Oh, and the fact that the veggies are tempura-style doesn’t hurt.
Finally, little do people know, Tataki South (the one in Noe Valley) has the cutest, secret back room that comes complete with its own bar and 12-man table – perfect for a dinner with close friends. In fact, I recently hosted my birthday party in this room. And if that doesn’t say how highly I regard this restaurant, I’m not sure what does.