It takes confidence, a comfortable bank account, or both, to enjoy yourself while eating omakase. There’s a lot of money riding on each tiny dish, there’s usually a hyper-present server or chef observing your every bite, and there’s pressure to outwardly appear like dropping enough money for approximately 40 Muni rides on one meal is something that’s perfectly normal for you on a Saturday night. But Robin, an excellent, approachable new sushi spot in Hayes Valley, makes it all feel easy.
This place brings a level of casual unpretentiousness to very upscale sushi and Japanese small plates. Sure, there’s some social media pandering going on with the neon logo on the wall, a bathroom floor made entirely of pennies, and nigiri made with potato chips and caviar. The tables along the windows are also a bit too on top of each other - gotta stack the people up with the light for best photo potential. But it works, because everything at this bright and energetic place looks and feels pretty cool.
Attractive as the space is, though, you’re at Robin for the very delicious food. You can order a la carte or get the omakase, ranging from $79 to $179. The $79 version, which has more than enough in terms of food and variety, is the best omakase value in San Francisco - you get a bunch of nigiri (both traditional and very much not) from the lean and fatty sections of the menu, some beef tartare, sesame noodles, a soup, and the previously mentioned caviar-potato chip-rice bite. It’s a lot of things, almost all of them stellar, and absolutely worth the price of admission. A meal at Robin certainly isn’t cheap, but it’s one of the most fun omakase experiences we’ve had.
Robin’s light, low-key corner space makes for an excellent meal whether you’re sitting at the sushi bar or at one of the tables with retro airport lounge-looking seats. It’s a perfect date spot for special occasions, or girls’ night choice if your group is ready to spend slightly irresponsibly. You can do so with confidence at Robin.
One of the best pieces of fish at Robin, the yellowtail with a tiny piece of grapefruit is fresh, a little spicy, and lighter than some of the other options.
We would be happy eating an entire omakase consisting of this piece of nigiri again and again. It’s incredible - rich and flavorful with a little bit of tomato confit and whipped tofu on top of perfect sushi rice. If you’re going a la carte, this is a must order, and if you’re going omakase, it’s on the way.
Not a ton of flavor compared to the other fish on the menu. We’d pass on this one.
Any/all of the toros are stellar. The fish is extremely high-quality and needs zero accompaniments besides the rice it comes with. Please don’t dunk it in more soy sauce.
Basically miso soup with an egg, this gets chunky when you break up the egg and has a generally unappealing texture. Skip it if you’re going a la carte.
This is a little plate of very good noodles with some shaved truffle on top. Not a must-order, but a good way to break up the sushi.
Decadence is cool with us. This beef tartare comes on a fried nori chip with some uni on top for good measure. It’s rich and phenomenal and will change your mind about eating raw meat, if you previously had any misgivings.
On that note, why not throw in some caviar on a potato chip on top of sushi rice? Sure, it’s a little weird, but it’s salty and damn tasty. You will probably take a picture of this with the neon sign in the background, and that’s exactly what they want you to do.
This can be a little hit or miss. When it hits, it’s rich and fantastic, but when it misses, the texture can be a bit chewy.
This is incredible, and the best use of alcohol in a dessert we’ve ever experienced. It actually tastes like sake, but not overwhelmingly so. The texture is great, and it’s topped with blueberries and pistachios. Save room for this.