Time: Saturday. July 13. 5:30 PM. Walk in.
Location: SF; Hayes Valley
Address: 511 Laguna St
Cuisine: Japanese – Sushi (American Style)
Party Size: 2 [M&V]
Pre-tip Cost: $71.78 [$66.00 meal; $5.78 tax]
Verdict: Reasonable food, reasonable cost
Domo takes the term sushi bar to a rather literal level seeing as almost all the seating is either at the bar up against the chef counter or at the bar against the window, facing the street. The place is small. Inside they have about 14 seats at the combined bars (6 at the counter, 8 at the window is my eyeball guess) and a single table that could probably fit 4. Outside they had small collection of tables as well and apparently allow pets to hang out there.
The place does not take reservations and we had a commitment afterwards so we planned to show up early, scope out the line situation and go from there. We arrived about 15 minutes prior to open and saw no queue for entry so used our new found free time to take a casual stroll down the heart of Hayes Street. We returned right at 5:30 to find one group ahead of us – so no trouble finding a seat. Customers trickled in over the course of the next 30 minutes and by 6:00 they had a little wait brewing.
The food was unsurprisingly sushi-centric with a rather standard selection of nigiri (2 per order) and sashimi. Of course the menu also contained a selection of American style rolls, loaded with fish and avocado on top and covered in sauce; sometimes even baked. There is also a small offering of appetizers.
Enough about the background, ‘get to the eats already’ I am sure you are thinking.
Our order consisted of the following:
Fish Taco Appetizer
Saba Hit Roll
Nigiri: Albacore, Saba, Sake Toro, Tako, Uni, Kurodai
The food was served in what I felt was an interesting sequence. It started with the Saba Hit roll, something that I was rather excited for as mackerel is one of my top fish. The saba was marinated nicely with a good meaty flavor and the topping of ginger with some seeds added a nice subtle texture. The avocado/cucumber center was a nice follow up to the first few chews. I am generally skeptical about fancy rolls but this guy put the night off to a good start.
Following the first roll, the Fish Tacos were served. Tacos in the name is rather loosely used. The dish is a slice of salmon and a slice of albacore with some avocado, served on a lightly temupra-ed nori and topped with a siracha salsa. The whole ensemble had a fantastic touch. Nothing was over powering and the flavors all blended rather nicely (admittedly I was unable to call out the siracha specifically). An extra added bonus was that the fried seaweed acted as a suitable vessel for transporting the deliciousness to the mouth without any spillage issues.
Our second roll showed up next – the roll that bears the heavy burden of carrying the name of the restaurant. This big boy is a layered with salmon and scallops and topped with an unagi glaze and some tobiko. Inside is basically a California roll with a little spicy mayo. Then the whole thing is baked.
Now, this is generally the type of roll that makes me roll my eyes. First impression is there is too much going on, too much noise to mask the taste of the fish. And maybe that is what happened but in the end, the final product is something that I recall enjoying…..thoroughly. I gobbled down my half pretty quickly and unfortunately do not recall much details other than my satisfaction.
The nigiri, where I hold my hopes up the highest, ended up being somewhat of a let down. I didn’t have one of those moments where the eyes close and the head slowly snaps back. Each slice I ate was just OK. A better explanation might have come if I wrote this shortly after eating, so apologies for the lack of details but the nigiri didn’t hit the spot. That being said, the uni, which came last, was rather good and by far the winner of this section.
Now, as I alluded to in the first part of the section the order the food was served in was a little odd. It is possible that the taste buds were impacted by the more complex rolls coming first and the more simplistic items got lost in the fray.