Fighting a serious case of sushi belly* BiteClub lays down the chopsticks and names the winners of 2006 Sumos of Sonoma County Sushi.
But before the drumroll, a quick shout out to all of you who weighed in with your picks. I'll be adding some of your comments into this story soon (a girl can only type so fast).
And now, the winners...
Yokozuna (Grand Champion)
Ume Japanese Bistro: The Master
Tucked away in Windsor, Ume is the place that sushi connoisseurs talk about between themselves. The sushi is simple, minimal (not blobbed with wasabi or overly seasoned rice) letting the flavor of the fish express itself and sliced generously without being overdone. Plus?
- Perfectly brewed tea poured as soon as you sit down
- Hands down, the best Monkfish pate
- Fresh, fresh, fresh?and did we mention fresh
- Artistic presentation
- Great sake list
- Lots of specials and off-menu delicacies that satisfy a serious sushi-lover
- A careful balance between serious Nigiri/sashimi and wacky everything-but-the-kitchen-sink rolls. (Which can be fun in certain situations, but in no way considered true sushi). 8710 Old Redwood Highway, Windsor, 838.6700
Ozeki (Serious Sushi)
Yao Kiku: Insiders Choice
The key to Yao Kiku is getting in with the sushi chef. Frankly, I've yet to ingratiate myself properly (I think I ordered a California roll, and blew my chances), but regardless, I've never had a misstep at this Bennett Valley jewel. 2700 Yulupa Ave, Santa Rosa, 707.578.8180
This one, I'm nominating primarily as a crowd favorite. My two experiences at Hana were less than illuminating (though the foie gras 'sushi' was delightful), but too many people I trust have told me that the chef is nothing short of brilliant. So okay, there you go. 101 Golf Course Drive, Rohnert Park, 707.586.0270
Sake' O: Triple Threat
The Healdsburg outpost of Gary Chu's empire has incredible sushi, monkfish pate and the Martini prawns that have made Chu a legend in SoCo. I'll mention O'Sake (2446 Patio Court, Santa Rosa, 707.542.8282 ) here as well, but frankly, the sushi doesn't even compare. 505 Healdsburg Ave, Healdsburg, 707.433/2669
Sushi Tozai: The Sebastopol Sleeper
An insider spot that consistently turns out solid sushi. 7531 Healdsburg Ave, Sebastopol, 707.824.9886
Seki wake (Pretty darned good)
Hiro: Petaluma power sushi
Watching the sushi chefs breakdown fake crab (the little pressed sticks which should never enter any real sushi restaurant) for 10 minutes while they pretty much ignored me didn't bode well. Which is why Hiro falls short in my list, despite some otherwise good sushi. 107 Petaluma Blvd. North, Petaluma, 707.763.2300
Senju: Wow in Windsor
What makes Senju one of my perennial faves is the incredibly nice staff and, like Ume, the specials off-menu cuts that inspire and intrigue. 8960 Brooks Road South, Windsor, 707.836.1699
Komu Subi (Just plain fun)
Sakura: Anime explosion
It is quite possible that every inch of this restaurant is covering with something cute, pink, fuzzy or adorable. Or blinking. Which makes it one of my favorite spots on a rainy, crummy day. The sushi is good (though not mind-blowing), reasonably priced, and service is fast enough to get you in and out before your visual cortex, uh, explodes. 300 Coddingtown Center, Santa Rosa; 707.523.1916