Balboa Sushi House: San Francisco’s Slice of Small Town Japan

Balboa Sushi House, located at 402 Balboa Avenue, between 5th and 6th Avenues, is within walking ditance of campus. Hours: 12:30 p.m.-10:00 p.m., mon.-sat.; 5:00 p.m.-10:00 p.m., Sun. Rolls range from $3.95 to $15.95

    When you first walk into Balboa Sushi house, two things happen. First, Owner Annie Kim greets you with a heart felt welcome and an intoxicating smile. Second, you’re overcome with the unique ambiance of the place. As Annie recalls, “I spent a lot of time in Japan and loved the feel of the small town Sushi houses there, and that is what I wanted to do here.”

You get that and then some at the Sushi House, which is carefully decorated with the artwork of loyal patrons. Every piece on the wall comes with a piece
of the Sushi House’s history, demonstrated best by one of her favorite pieces, which hangs over the majority of the tables. “The kid who drew that drew it when he was five, and now he is twenty. He still comes in.”

 All sentiments aside, the sushi is the true star attraction. While I ordered, I received a complementary cup of hot tea and a bowl of edamame (boiled soybeans with sprinkled salt). Once I had sipped my tea and ate the edamame, Annie emerged from the kitchen carrying a platter of sushi so elegantly
arranged that I had to take a second to admire the craftsmanship of husband and Sushi
Chef James Kim.

On that platter I find the three rolls I ordered: the California ($4.95) the Tekka ( Tuna, $4.95) and the Rainbow ($12.95) rolls. As I took my first bite into the California roll, I was greeted by an incredible balance of sweet crab with the perfect amount of salt and fresh avocado, rolled together in premium rice. The Tekka roll was packed with a huge piece of fresh tuna and encompassed by crisp seaweed.

While those two rolls certainly satiated, my favorite without a doubt was the Rainbow roll, coated with everything from Unagi (Freshwater eel), to tuna and to shrimp. From the first bite of the California roll to the last piece of the Rainbow roll, I was in heaven. Besides the fabulous sushi, the warm service from Annie and James is what keeps fans of the Balboa Sushi House coming back for more.

As I pay my bill and leave, Annie smiles and says “Thank you, see you soon,” which she definitely will. If you’re looking
for great sushi and a warm experience, it’s hard to beat Balboa Sushi House.


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