Top 10 Japanese Restaurants In SF's Mission District

Sushi/ ©Pixabay
Sushi/ ©Pixabay
Photo of Dito Rayskiy
9 February 2017

Japanese cuisine is famous for its authenticity, minimalism and the unique collaboration between the imagination and creativity. The Mission in San Francisco is renowned for its concentration of the most popular Japanese restaurants in the city. Let us acquaint you to the taste of traditional and modern Japanese cuisine, which perfectly combines sweet, sour, bitter and salty, bringing to life the true meaning of ‘umami.’ Here are our top ten Japanese restaurants in the Mission.

We Be Sushi

It takes a lot of time and patience to make the right kind of sushi: fresh fish or vegetables, correct amount of rice, the size and the length, and the chef has to calculate precisely how much of the ingredients should be used to leave his/her customers satisfied. We Be Sushi has managed to perfect this balancing act. Nigiri sushi are served as two on a small plate, and has a pleasant variety of fresh fish and vegetables. This place not only offers sushi and sashimi, but also lunch and dinner with the famous Japanese beer ‘Sapporo,’ or premium sake. Suitable for families and corporate events, the minimalistic interior design helps you relax and fully enjoy the meal. We Be Sushi, 538 Valencia Street, San Francisco, CA, USA, +1 415 565 0749

We Be Sushi

The owner of We Be Sushi opened two restaurants a few block apart from each other. If We Be Sushi, mentioned above, is recommended for families and friends, this location is smaller, more intimate and perfect for a first date or simply enjoying a dinner for one. The design combines ethnography and a rich history of Japanese cultural items, including fine paintings hanging on the walls with fans and mythological creatures. The menu is the same as the first location, but the environment couldn’t be more different. Evenings are the best time to be there.We Be Sushi, 1071 Valencia Street, San Francisco, CA, USA, +1 415 826 0607

Kiji Sushi Bar and Cuisine

Bar, Restaurant, Japanese, Fusion, $$$
Map View
Besides traditional Japanese cuisine, this restaurant recently added an extensive list of sake and desserts, which makes for a successful combination. Traditionally, sushi are served with sake, and Kiji Sushi Bar can easily help you decide on one that will pair well with your order. As a reminder of what authentic Japanese cuisine represents, every dish is precisely designed. Desserts are highly recommended. This is the rare place where you have an opportunity to try house made ‘lychee sorbet,’ or ‘mocha’ ice cream, which comes in chocolate or green tea.

Ramen Izakaya Goku

Instead of making an accent on sushi, Ramen Izakaya Goku decided to hone their craft on ramen. Their specialty is kakuni tonkotsu ramen (braised pork) made according to an old recipe, and their bowls are big enough to make anyone full for the rest of the day. Their small bites, such as squid tempura and takoyaki (octopus dumpling rolls), are perfect examples of how two different ingredients can work together. The interior is modestly sized, prices are decent, service is fast, and the ramen is always rewarding. Ramen Izakaya Goku, 3232 16th Street, San Francisco, CA, USA, +1 415 934 0321


Restaurant, Japanese, $$$
Map View
Cha-Ya | © Martijn Van Exel/Flickr
One of the exciting things about Japanese cuisine is that it adapts well to the needs of its consumers. Due to increasing numbers of vegetarians and vegans, Cha-ya offers a ‘green menu,’ which has made them one of the best vegetarian restaurants in the city. The motto of this place is, ‘Fresh, Simple and Ready.’ Their delicious cha-ya rolls and fresh salad is the epitome of tasty vegetarian food, and the vegan gyoza are crispy and sweet. This place is cash only but has an ATM machine inside the restaurant.


Restaurant, Japanese, Contemporary, Fusion, Sushi, $$$
Map View
Sashimi platter
Sashimi platter | Courtesy of Kazan Restaurant
Kazan means volcano in Japanese and this restaurant proves it with every bite of its authentic dishes. This sort of fireworks in your mouth experience will send anyone to the moon and back. Kazan represents a fusion of traditional Japanese food with the contemporary elements of French serving. Every dish is a sort of triumph; evenly sliced sashimi, exquisitely designed sushi, and oysters introduced on a plate as a gift from Venus, which rests in gorgeous harmony with uni and ikura. For dessert, their famous green tea cheesecake will leave anyone speechless.

Ken Ken Ramen

Restaurant, Ramen
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The Ramen Bar
The Ramen Bar | © Guilhem Vellut/Flickr
This place is a hidden gem in the Mission. Their menu varies each day, but Ken Ken Ramen is accommodating towards its customers, and is a perfect place for meat lovers and vegetarians. Their options for extra ramen toppings are delightful because as they say, ‘no ramen no life.’ The lights above the tables are a combination of lanterns, which makes this place cozy and relaxing. Beware of the portions, as they are very generous with the dishes and one order will be more than enough for two people. Highly recommended to go there on an empty stomach and leave the restaurant happy and full.

Blowfish Sushi

Blowfish sushi is casual Japanese fusion dining combined with good music and cocktails, which makes it an ideal place for corporate gatherings. The goal of Blowfish Sushi is to offer a new step in the tasting of Japanese cuisine. The classic yakisoba is a popular lunch item, but if you want to try something new, their vegetable chanko is a dish traditionally eaten by sumo wrestlers. If you want to sit back and watch some anime on their televisions while drinking premium sake, this is the place for you.

Blowfish Sushi, 2170 Bryant Street, San Francisco, CA, USA, +1 415 285 3848

Basa Seafood Express

Restaurant, Seafood, Japanese
Map View
Seafood display
Seafood display | Courtesy of Basa Seafood Express
Basa is not actually a Japanese restaurant, but it offers a distinguished menu; fish and chips, clam chowder, salmon burgers and seafood combo platters. Their salmon teriyaki is a favorite for many customers, and the Asian garlic shrimp, which are prepared within a few minutes, are worth the wait. It’s difficult to beat their prices: thickly sliced salmon sashimi for only seven dollars is indeed a treat. Opt to eat out or order online. Fast and delicious.

Sugoi Sushi

Restaurant, Sushi, Japanese, $$$
Map View
Sugoi is an adjective that means, ‘awesome,’ in Japanese. It’s not surprising why this restaurant chose this name. Wooden walls and simple tables give the impression that this is most likely a castle rather than fine dining. Every dish is an art performance. Their hot and cold tuna is so delicious that it is hard to comprehend how the dish can be cold and hot at the same time. Artistically, many experts use the term ‘fastidious taste,’ to discuss such intricately and well thought through food. However, this term can be applied to every single dish in this restaurant.