One of my friend David’s classic jokes goes something like this: “the best sushi places are Domo, Arigato, and Mister Roboto.” I don’t know about the last two, but I can safely say that Domo Sushi in Hayes Valley is one of my favorite raw fish joints in the city.
Walking by the tiny restaurant—there are about 10 seats inside and as many outside—you feel an air of mystery. It’s dark with dimmed reddish lighting and is the kind of place you’d pick for an intimate dinner date. Domo is particularly inviting at sunset, when the restaurant sign of cursive red letters is lit up. They don’t take formal reservations so there can be a 30-or-so minute wait on weekend evenings, but you can call ahead as you walk over and the staff will gladly put your name on the list.
I like to visit Domo on weeknights when the restaurant is far less crowded. The indoor bar-style seating is snug, but you can still carry a conversation without having everyone listen in. The outdoor tables are better for groups and are great on rare warm days.
The menu at Domo offers several unique rolls. I haven’t seen a Kobe Beef Roll anywhere else, and the warm Domo Roll is their signature offering. My favorite roll is the Spicy Hulk, elegantly wrapped in cucumber. The simple Shiitake Roll is a great vegetarian addition. Domo also has specials which appear on the mirrored wall inside the restaurant. If the Red Dragon is available, try that too.
Even if you have to hang out for a bit waiting for a spot, the sushi at Domo is very worth it. Just don’t tell too many people about it, or I’ll never get a seat.
511 Laguna Street at Linden Street, SF
Photo credit: Emilia Varshavsky