Notes from the Road: Spectacular Sushi in San Francisco

October 22, 2015

So here’s the problem with book tour.  You do a dinner, and the restaurant cooks a spectacular meal.  In San Anselmo, that meal was at Insalata’s.  It looked really great, and the 130 guests were really happy. And why not, when each table had it’s own individual version of  The Cake That Cures Everything?  But I did not eat a bite; I was too busy walking around the room, meeting people, signing books.  It was a great party – but I left hungry.

My friends Hiro and Lissa came riding to the rescue.  “Come join us at Wako,” they said.  “It’s our favorite sushi bar.” I instantly saw why; the first course, pictured above, arrived,a picture-perfect array of delightful little bites. Each was different, each was fascinating, and each served to sharpen your appetite.

It was followed by shiokara, one of my all-time favorite dishes.

This is one of those serious sushi dishes that you often get in Japan. It’s rarer in the States, reserved for customers the sushi master thinks can be counted on to enjoy it. Little strips of squid are laboriously cured in their own guts. The result is a textural delight – crisp and slippery at the same time – with a pungent flavor that practically demands a sip of sake. If someone offers you a chance to taste it, don’t pass it up.

We went on to this limpid and lovely soup, followed by an array of fantastic sushi, served one elegant piece at a time. We ended with matsutake in a little iron pot – it’s almost ubiquitous in fine sushi bars at this time of year – and finally this elegant take on tamago, the traditional omelet lightly stuffed to make it even more delicious.

I learned, yesterday, that Wako has just been awarded a Michelin star. I don’t always think the Tire Company gets it right, but in this case they certainly did. For traditionalists, Wako offers a truly memorable sushi experience.



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