A sushi set ($11.95) consisted of California roll (crab and avocado) and a selection of nigiri, including tuna, salmon, and shrimp; it was good, but you could get it anywhere, even at the supermarket.
But even the fanciest supermarket probably wouldn't offer anything to compare with the hamachi ceviche ($11.95), the thin bricks of flesh doused with a basil-yuzu-wasabi sauce truly a New World combination, which produced a memorable sweet pepper-fire effect and topped with tiny cubes of purplish bronze geutf8 like jewels we could not identify. Also distinctive are many of the rolls, including the Barracuda crunchy roll ($12): broiled tuna and avocado wrapped in a long tube of rice, which is then dipped in a light batter and flash-fried. The result is something like a Japanese chimichanga, tasty but quite rich.
We tend to associate Japanese cuisine so strongly with uncooked seafood that we are at risk of forgetting that the Japanese cook a lot of their food too and with their own sort of élan. The lunch menu offers us a series of vivid reminders of this, from udon (the pho-like noodle soup) to various types of panko-crusted cutlets, or katsu. There is even a breaded calamari steak (the poor man's abalone), which turned up for me in a bento box ($9.50) in the company of a California roll, a pat of white rice, a mixed salad with creamy dressing, and (most welcome on a leaden, tule-fog day) a bowl of miso soup on the side. Across the table, miso soup was neither necessary nor missed, for there came a great bowl of udon ($9.95), steaming like a caldera on some volcanic plain. In the concentrated chicken broth lurked a Medusa's wig of fat noodles, with flecks of shiso and scallion and slivers of shiitake mushrooms. The tempura shrimp were presented on the side, and we briefly considered the likelihood that we were expected to dump them into the bowl. We didn't, and they turned out to do nicely when eaten on the side ... but had we broken a rule? *
Brunch: Sat.Sun., 11 a.m.3:30 p.m. Lunch: Mon.Fri., 11 a.m.3:30 p.m. Dinner: Mon.Thurs., 510:30 p.m.; Fri.Sun., 511:30 p.m.
2251 Market, SF
Noisy if busy