SFoodie's countdown of our favorite 50 things to eat and drink, 2012 edition
No one -- certainly not in San Francisco, possibly in the country -- is making sushi quite like Tim Archuleta at ICHI Sushi. For the past two decades, the American approach to sushi has been moreish -- rolls with more fish, more flavors, more cute gimmicks, seemingly to trick the public out of remember they're eating raw flesh. But Archuleta and his staff do their best work with nigiri, incorporating elements of modernist cuisine in the subtlest of ways.
Their fluke marinated in kombu is vacuum-wrapped to speed up the process, for instance. The glazes they brush onto the fish are mixed with Ultra-Sperse and xantham gum, hydrocolloids that help give the sauce some viscosity. "It sits up on the nigiri itself and perfectly seasons it rather than dripping off and soaking into the rice," sous-chef Jake Whitlock explains.
With one of SFoodie's favorite nigiri at ICHI -- the tai or sea bream -- Archuleta takes another approach, layering on flavors, though not in a maximalist Philly-Cheesesteak-49er-Roll way. He lays a slip of shiso leaf onto the capsule of rice, then a transparent slice of tai, or sea bream. The fish is brushed with kabosu juice -- a grapefruit-like relative of yuzu -- then sprinkled with green tea salt and dabbed with a little yuzukosho, a blend of salted yuzu rind and green chiles.
ICHI Sushi: 3369 Mission (at Godeus), 525-4570, www.ichisushi.com.
Other favorites in this series: