Best Japanese Restaurants in San Francisco

July 21, 2016
by Zagat Staff

Here's the top rated Japanese restaurants in the city of SF.   

Japanese · Downtown · $$$$
Food 4.8 · Decor 4.6 · Service 4.7

Chef Mitsunori Kusakabe "takes you on a culinary adventure" with his "incredible kaiseki-style" dinners at this "intimate" Downtown Japanese, a destination for "premium sushi" featuring "beautiful cuts of fish" prepared with a "precision" that's "inspiring" to watch; rounded out with "caring service" and a "vast" sake list, the experience may put a "dent in your wallet" , but all agree it's "splurge-worthy."
KEIKO à Nob Hill
French · Nob Hill · $$$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.4 · Service 4.4

For "sublime food" in an "elegant" , "old-world setting" , fans head to this "amazing" Nob Hill sleeper that turns out Japanese-influenced French tasting menus showcasing some of the "most innovative" cooking around; the "excellent" staff offers "spot" -on wine pairings from the "impressive" list, and while it comes at a "high price" , a "less formal" bar area offers à la carte izakaya options.
Izakaya Sozai
Yakitori · Inner Sunset · $
Food 4.5 · Decor 3.9 · Service 4.0

Purists are "blown away" by the "traditional" small plates – like "staggeringly good" yakitori and "exceptional" ramen in a "delicious porky broth" – at this "cozy" Inner Sunset Japanese that also pours "amazing" sakes; prices are moderate, and though you'll likely have to "wait outside" for a seat in the "tiny" space, fans say the "friendly owner" has captured "the true spirit of izakaya."
PABU Izakaya
Japanese · Downtown · $$$
Food 4.5 · Decor 4.5 · Service 4.4

"Michael Mina's foray into sushi and robata" with chef Ken Tominaga, this "top-notch" Japanese delivers "exquisitely prepared and presented" izakaya plates in a "gorgeous" Financial District venue, complete with "on-point" service, "memorable" cocktails and "a lot of buzz" ; the "high-end" options include a tasting menu that's "absolutely worth it" , while the weekday happy hour offers more affordable access.
Roka Akor
Japanese · Downtown · $$$$
Food 4.4 · Decor 4.5 · Service 4.1

"Sleek is the word" at this "upscale" branch of a global Japanese chain, where a "fabulous" space in Downtown’s Jackson Square sets the scene for "expertly grilled" robata fare, including "high-quality" steaks, plus "awesome" sushi; the lower-level lounge is a "winner" known for its "happy-hour specials" , while the big-ticket dining room is "perfect for a business dinner."
Japanese · The Castro · $$$
Food 4.4 · Decor 3.9 · Service 4.3

The "flavorful" sushi "melts in your mouth" at this Castro Japanese, though some say it's the "non-sushi dishes that shine" , notably the "fresh strawberry mochi" and "sublime" tofu "made right at your table" ; you can "expect to wait" for seats in the "diminutive" space – but a "gracious" experience is the payoff.
Japanese · Marina District · $$$
Food 4.4 · Decor 4.0 · Service 4.3

"Beautifully presented and scrumptious" small plates – including "excellent" sushi, skewers and novel combos like bacon mochi ( "worth the visit alone" ) – are matched with real "izakaya atmosphere" at this Marina Japanese; "great sakes" and "wonderful service" are further incentives, though the cost can depend on how long you linger.