218 E Third Ave, San Mateo, CA | Directions 9440137.565157 -122.322775
Neighborhoods: Downtown, Central San Mateo
Best sushi and my favorite restaurant in the world – I have been hesitant to tell anyone about this restaurant because it is so good. The sushi is absolutely the best I've had anywhere in the world, including in Japan. The best thing to do is to order the "Omakase", which is the chef's tasting menu. You can specify how many pieces you want, and then you get one piece each of some very exotic fish you otherwise might never eat - flathead, butterfish, beltfish, alfonsino, shad gizzard, amberjack, etc. Each piece is individually sauced, and you are advised not to dip them in sushi - they already have what they need.
Contrary to what some reviewers say, this place is great for kids. I've taken my 12 year-old several times for lunch and dinner, and he sits at the sushi bar with me. Sam and Koichi are wonderful to him. Of course, if your kid doesn't like sushi, why would you take him to a sushi bar? But if he does like sushi, why shouldn't he sit at the counter if he loves the stuff?
In San Mateo, long-standing sushi spot caters to devotees with monster rolls and fast service. –
Excellent, imaginative sushi – This friendly place may seem a bit chaotic, but it's worth the effort to get a seat at the sushi bar. The special items, such as seared toro and white salmon skin sushi are memorable. They have the usual rolls and other items, but why bother. Visit a few times, and the staff will remember your name and home community. Lately, at the sushi bar they have changed the procedure of ordering sushi from the waiters rather than the chefs. Good idea. They keep track of your order and return frequently. The only annoyance is that they will seat young children at the sushi bar. Many other sushi bars do not do this as young kids don't eat sushi, they get restless and bored--and they take up space for other clientele. Just one curmudgeon's opinion.
Best selection & quality sushi – Sushi Sam's provides a sushi lover with a huge array of sushi that is of very high quality and a large selection. The selection is more than typical sushi places. Some of examples are: Battera (pressed rectangular kelp/mackrel), the best Monk fish liver I have found anyware, white salmon, kobe beef, grilled black cod, baby lobster, Hamachi cheeks, deep fried baby flounder that you eat even the bones, and seasonal special fresh sushi. It is for the food as the draw back is the crowds (if you sit in the old part of the restaurant, a bit noisey but well worth it.
A place for local quick eats – The food is good, the service is ordinary, and there are often waits. Sushi Sam's is what you'd expect from a popular local joint. However, I've been noticing recently that stuffy foodies have been making their way to Sushi Sam's. That's a good thing that Sushi Sam's is expanding is customer base, but it's a eat and leave place. I've seen people with 4 bottles of wine on their table. People who've finished eating and sat around to chat and chat. Dinner parties of 8. Come on guys, the ambience and the line out the door should give enough of a hint that this is not a fine dining establishment where you sit for a 2 hour meal. Turnover is key. And what's this...do they take reservations?
Great food but service needs BIG improvement – I've always love Sushi Sam but one thing I really wants to share is the service. Majority of the staff is friendly and efficient but this one guy who's been working there for over eight years is one of the reason I seek another sushi place. Waiters always scream at each other in their own language, he never smiles when he come take our orders, and of couse never smiles when he brings us our check. I'm sure they'll have no problem getting business because this place is alway packed, but I really wish they have staffs who appreciates their customers a bit more.
Chef's Choice All the Way – Forget the rolls. The only way to eat here is up at the bar ordering the specials off the board. While the regular nigiri may be ordinary (but cheaper), the innovative preparations from the Chef's Choice is sublime: silky cuts, sometimes drizzled with lemon juice or other unique sauce, and creatively dressed with toasted garlic, almonds, or shaved scallions. The contrast of textures and flavors of the specials are what sets Sushi Sam's apart from most others.
Needs new plates and teacups – Sushi is good and price is right. Still a popular place. But their teapot, teacups, and plates are in a sorry state.
Used to be Better – This used to be one of my favorite Jap. restaurant.
However, after they received an TV award and expanded their restaurant, the food has become smaller in portion. For some reason, the fish's not as fresh as before... They used to have better rolls also...
Anyway, the staff is still pretty good, and you don't have be tightly packed with other customers as you eat like before.
However, if they want to compete in the Bay Area, they'll have to do better like before.
Fresh Fresh Fish! – I love going to this sushi restaurant. The fish is so fresh & the staff is very friendly. Wave at Sam behind the sushi bar. He knows how to say hello & goodbye in many different languages.
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