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Unbeknownst to most who’ve patronized Tanuki and for the young guns who’ve never been, Tanuki has been around for the past 44years (1974)! At the time it was also the 4th Japanese restaurant serving the City! The first, if you have to ask, was Kansai Restaurant on Sacramento and Battery, the second was Tokyo Sukiyaki in North Beach, and third was Yoshida on Union and Webster. Incredible that the three mentioned have all closed and Tanuki officially now stands to be the oldest Japanese restaurant in SF. Sadly about 4years ago (2014) Aki-San, the owner, decided to retire and sold the restaurant to long time customer and friend Tommy. If you’ve eaten at Ebisu, you’ll quickly recognize Tommy, as he’s been their sushi chef for many years. Tommy happens to be Chinese but before some of you guys question Tommy’s ability to carry Tanuki forward or give a Japanese restaurant operated by a non Japanese restaurateur the stink eye, Tommy is no lightweight. 30years serving sushi in SF and thoroughly trained by a master sushi chef from Hokkaido who he visits.
OK enough with the history talk. How’s the food? For those seeking shark heart, Shad, Shirako, Konoshiro, or Nakazumi, you best visit Yoshizumi or Akiko’s. This isn’t the place. This is old school, no frills. This is spaghetti with meatballs. Expect simple bites like sake, hamachi, Santa Barbara uni, ocean trout, and sea bream, lobster handroll, kaki fry and still the best chawanmushi. The menu hasn’t changed since I was introduced to Tanuki when I was still riding a bus to school. 1988 if you must know. The food remains ever authentic under Tommy’s watch. The size of the cuts, the freshness and the entire menu has not changed. Another fun fact is that Tanuki was the first to serve what we know today as themed rolls. Caterpillar, Poki, Dynamite and California rolls you’ve eaten outside of Tanuki were created or had influence from here. Like the Tiki Lounge, Tanuki is one of those time capsules. I like my high end sushi places but Tanuki wins my medium range sushi joint time and time again. If you plan to visit Tommy drop EVERETT or Ebereto and you’ll be taken care of guaranteed 😉 secure yourself at the counter and enjoy! - Ebereto Chan