Last week’s devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan have caused widespread damage in the country and officials have already placed the death toll in the thousands.
And while the country slowly begins to try to recover, many restaurants here in the Bay Area could also face long-lasting effects from the natural disaster.
That includes Sebo in San Francisco’s Hayes Valley. Owner Michael Black has developed a very traditional style for serving and preparing sushi, including ordering most of his fish from the markets in Japan. “I get my clams from the East and West Coast. I get my uni from Santa Barbara and some salmon roe from here. That’s it,” said Black.
He said he’s not sure what his next plan of action is going to be after hearing from his distributors.
“We knew for sure that Tsukiji (Fish Market) was shut down and everything north of that was completely shut down. The thought was that (since) we buy a smaller portion of our fish from the southern portion of Japan…they would just source more heavily from those markets,” Black said. “But by the second day, the tsunami alerts had extended further south and most of those fisheries started shutting down.”
Black said he is going day-by-day, and will offer his normal Sunday izakaya menu during the week, with a lack of fresh fish. He also said he might have some nights where one type of Japanese food is featured.
“The effects are going to be long-lasting. Really what we’re looking at now is even if they do start fishing in a limited manner, I’m guessing that the bulk of that fish is going to be reserved for restaurants in Japan,” said Black. “If anything can make it out of the country, I’m not expecting the highest quality and I’m not expecting inexpensive either.”
Black also said that many tablecloth European restaurants in the Bay Area, like the French Laundry, Coi and Manresa, have started using a variety of Japanese products, but not to the extent that Sebo has.