I first discovered Sushi Sam’s over two decades ago, and I still try to make a trip there at least once a month because I think it’s the best sushi in the Bay Area. I’m not alone: Ask top chefs like Thomas Keller, Laurent Manrique, and Ron Siegel where they go for sushi, and they’ll tell you Sushi Sam’s. Named for owner Osamu (“Sam”) Sugiyama, the casual ambiance and reasonable prices are polar opposites from the dining experience — not only does Sam get sparklingly fresh seafood, he features some unusual and hard-to-find items and only serves what’s in season. One of my favorites is his California hand roll, made with real snow crab dressed lightly in Japanese mayonnaise. The nori shatters like thin glass but is strong enough to hold the contents and stay crisp so you don’t end up tugging at limp, chewy seaweed with your teeth. Sam makes many of his own seasonings to complement the fish, so quite a few items require no soy sauce (take the waiter’s word for it).
Tip: Always check the specials board, where you’ll find Sam’s seasonal offerings.
Not to Miss: California hand roll, toro, arctic char, baby lobster, hamachi, pork belly appetizer, uni, anago, house-made desserts
218 E. 3rd Avenue (at B), San Mateo
Tuesday–Saturday 11:30 a.m.–2 p.m. & 5–10 p.m