Dining

Neighborhood Gems: Shimo

A quiet night at your local sushi bar is always a good meal

Last month, Tasting Table asked readers for their favorite neighborhood gems. Now we're introducing the winning picks.

Shimo has all the hallmarks of your average neighborhood sushi bar: locals sitting at the bar making small talk with the chefs. The game--whatever game--on TV. Waiters who circle the restaurant's dining room as comfortably as they do their own.

Look more closely, though. Those regulars at the sushi bar aren't devouring Rainbow rolls but sashimi or classic Tokyo-style nigiri. Owner Kiyomaru Shimo opened his eponymous restaurant 30 years ago. He still gets most of his fish from Japan, and, very quietly, prepares it with a care whose appeal is timeless.

The other side of Shimo's sushi bar
The hamachi ($5) and Spanish mackerel ($5), gently placed on a not-too-firm ball of rice, have the smooth texture of a ripe mango. The specials board might yield a seasonal rarity like herring ($6), whose flesh is bordered with a stripe of crunchy roe.

The sushi chef will pause from adding to your plate while you finish some buttery sautéed maitakes ($13) or quivering, warm chawanmushi ($6).

But he does offer guidance when it's called for. When you order tako ($9) nigiri, you might instead get a bowl of tightly curled, creamy tentacles with ponzu sauce--just because Shimo thinks it's better that way tonight.

Shimo, of course, is right.

Our Other Favorite Outer Richmond Neighborhood Gems: Pizzetta 211, Hakka Restaurant, Cassava Bakery, Kappou Gomi.

Shimo 2339 Clement St. San Francisco CA 94121 415-752-4422

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