San Francisco's sushi scene lends itself mostly to three types of set-ups: hyper-fancy destinations charging $11 for edamame, take-out dives with health scores reminiscent of Rajon Rondo’s free throw percentage, or fusion joints cranking out rolls stuffed with copious tempura, seven types of fish, and aioli drizzles. While these all have their appropriate time and place, Eiji manages to find a rare sweet spot: non-offensive prices, tranquil vibe, and authentic sushi that stands out from the crowd.
Nestled in a low-key spot near Dolores Park, Eiji is one of our favorite underground spots for straight up amazing nigiri, homemade tofu, and some of the best Japanese desserts we’ve had. The mochi-coated strawberries are nuts -the desserts are so popular they limit you to one per person.
The open kitchen may double as a storage area for cases of Asahi, but it does give you a front-row seat to the magical kitchen lady/waitress who trots out a fancy stone pot burner situation and mixes up a concoction of soy and Japanese secrets into a perfect dish. It’s incredible. There are three types of homemade tofu - we love the Ankake, which is described as "Very Flavorful," and the Cold Tofu (described as "Made directly in cup") and Oboro Tofu ("We make it when you order") have their share of fans as well.
The dining room is cozily small and tables fill up quickly, but the noise level stays low and you can focus on food without bumping elbows with your neighbor. On cold nights, a space heater appears to warm you up by the door. We appreciate the simplicity of the menu, quality of service, and general down-home feel of Eiji. We’ll be back often.
We don’t throw around umami lightly, but this house-made tofu is insane. You don’t even need the scallions, ginger, and seaweed toppings - just savor the flavor. We were rendered speechless while consuming.
The miso-walnut puree topping the thick slice of eggplant is amazing. Let it sit for a few minutes. We learned the hard way that eggplant interiors can easily reach molten temperature levels.
You can’t go wrong with any of the always fresh nigiri options - the tuna and sake are always a good bet.
The rolls here are simple and not too Americanized (shrimp tempura isn’t an option). The nega-hami and saba-gari maki rolls are some of our favorites.
Eiji's menu says this is the “Most Favorite” and we might have to agree. The most perfect strawberry you’ll ever eat, cased in chewy mochi and a red bean sauce. It’s sweet and savory and pretty amazing.
We were expecting some sort of sweet potato latke with ice cream. We were 50% correct. There was ice cream, but the sweet potato “cake” is actually more of a purple custard the The Capitol would serve to Effie Trinket. Interesting, but not a must.