OK apparently there is some super famous sushi place in San Mateo? AJ and his friend James were visiting from Seattle, and they were super hyped about Sushi Sam’s, so we headed there Saturday afternoon.
I texted Daphne, who lives in San Mateo, that we were going and she said to expect a wait. This was the queue about five minutes before it opened:
It actually wasn’t too bad though, because the restaurant was a decent size and once it opened almost everyone got a seat. It definitely makes sense to get there 5-10 minutes early, because if you missed that first seating you would have to wait 60+ minutes for a group from the first batch to finish. We were near the back of the line and got seated at the counter, which was the complete opposite of what I was expecting!
James was less excited than I was:
Also, check out those tea cups – they had a nice weight to them, were a great size and I loved the design, with a cat, a fat vampire(?) and the restaurant logo. But more on those later!
We started off with miso soup and green tea. The main sushi chef was super fun and the waiter was very friendly and efficient. We got the omakase, which was delicious (omakase? For Saturday brunch? How decadent!).
I should have written down what we ate because I’ve forgotten a lot of it. =( This was shrimp, shrimp heads and something else I can’t remember:
I asked James if he could remember any of these and he just started randomly naming fish.
James (when he saw I wasn’t listening to him): Kaye doesn’t want my guesses. She wants cold, hard facts.
James: I remembered that was the Spanish mackerel because it was all twirly.
Next we had fatty tuna and baby lobster. I loooooved the fatty tuna – it pretty much melted in my mouth.
I think one of these is Japanese mackerel and the other is yellowtail. The one on the left was topped with Japanese seaweed.
One of these is barracuda and I can’t remember what the other is (sigh). The one on the left had kiwi and was very dessert-like.
On the left is miyazaki beef, which was amazingly tender, and on the right is crab with crab organs:
We decided to call it there. You all know I could have kept going, but I guess we were aiming for “pleasantly full” rather than “roll me out the door”. I took a photo of James and my plates stacked up (and in the background you can see the head chef):
But James shook his head and was like “no, you have to make the stack look more epic.” And he grabbed my phone and took this picture:
But we weren’t quite done yet! For dessert I had green tea tiramisu. I remember having one at a restaurant in Seattle that was very unimpressive but I really liked this one – it much lighter than regular tiramisu:
I remember the head chef was laughing at (other) James and AJ because of how quickly they finished their desserts. It was crazy how fast they ate – they were done by the time I’d taken two bites!
James had the almond tofu which was also very good:
So yeah, back to the tea cups! I asked the waiter if they sold them and he said they used to until they started to run out. But he said they’d recently gotten a new shipment (the only difference being that the ones we used were light blue and the one I bought was white) so to talk to him afterwards and I could buy one. It worked out to be a pretty cute souvenir. =D
Price-wise Sushi Sam’s was in the same ballpark as our other omakase experience at Shiro’s in Seattle – $170ish vs $210ish before tip (I think James ate more at Shiro’s and we also had booze). The nigiri at Shiro’s was constructed with a bit more care (a couple of my pieces here collapsed when I tried to pick them up) but I really enjoyed the service at Sam’s, it was less of a hassle to get in, and it was overall more fun.
Look at us! Having fun!