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Tekka Japanese Restaurant
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537 Balboa St San Francisco, CA 94118
537 Balboa StreetUSCaliforniaSan Francisco94118
(415) 221-8455
$$Restaurant, Sushi Restaurant
Sushi Restaurant
Japanese Restaurant
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Review Summary
30 reviews
5 star
28 reviews
4 star
1 review
3 star
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2 star
1 review
1 star
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The sushi chef/owner prepares each piece to order at this cash-only omakase venue without menus.- Google
"The sushi chef was focus on cutting big, luscious slices of super fresh fish."
"It was obvious he likes Tekka because he wants to feel special."
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Jenn W's profile photo
Jenn W
5 months ago
TL;DR: Quantity, not quality. Caste system for customers: if you're not a regular, you can't order anything regulars get and you get pushed to the back of the line (or can't get in). Sashimi and eel you could purchase yourself. Rice that was sour (too much vinegar) and mushy (overcooked). NOT worth the wait and NEVER going back. My friend and I arrived at 7:20pm on a Friday night. We asked if there would be second seating and Yoshimi said yes, either at 8:30 or 9pm. The wait was fine because it was expected. A couple showed up a bit later and said they didn't make the first seating (even though they got there at 4:30pm) because people in front of them were saving extra spaces and some regulars made a 6 person reservation. NOTE: You cannot make reservations unless you are a regular. Around 8:30pm, a man showed up, waved Yoshimi over, and whispered something to her. He then proceeded to tell us every detail of what happens at Tekka, attempted to school us on sushi, and told us that you won't find ANY experience like Tekka. We soon understood why he said that. Yoshimi came to do the door around 9pm, called him and his THREE friends in to sit at "reserved" seats. Then she came around to take our orders. I asked if there was omakase and she said no. My friend and I ordered the sashimi combo for two, negi hama roll, and two eel nigiri. The only other things on the menu were two other rolls, tuna, salmon, albacore, scallop, and mackerel nigiri. Then that regular and his friends were served two off menu appetizers. If there's no omakase, where did that come from? NOTE: You cannot order food off menu unless you are regular. The sashimi platter finally made its way out after ~15 minutes. The portions were massive - 4 pieces each of tuna, salmon, albacore, and yellowtail, 2 pieces each of octopus, mackerel, and scallop PER PERSON - and each piece was huge. The fish quality was mediocre. By the time my friend and I were about half way done, we didn't want to see sashimi for weeks. It was a disgusting amount of food, but we finished it all. The eel nigiri came out - I don't know how a previous reviewer could say it was "orgasmic" - and the skin was super chewy, they hadn't cut or cooked it properly and I'm pretty sure it was just a frozen packet. Ugh. And the rice was mushy and sour, Nobu couldn't even take the time to wrap the seaweed all the way around the nigiri! And the negi hama was horrible. Loosely wrapped, falling apart, even lower quality yellowtail than the sashimi, with frail, old green onions. By this time, the other party had another two appetizers off menu as well as whatever sashimi they ordered. Then Nobu said "KAMPAI!" and cheers... JUST THE PARTY OF FOUR REGULARS. He ignored the rest of us. NOTE: You will be treated as second class customers unless you are a regular. When the other party of two asked Yoshimi what the regulars were eating, she said, "oh, something special," and when they asked Yoshimi if they could order that, Yoshimi said, "oh, no, because we already know what they like." Uhhh, okay. When my friend and I got up to leave, Nobu finally acknowledged us and said all cheerily, "ARIGATO GOZAIMASU! GOODNIGHT!" Too late. We're never going back. Why spend a bunch of money on mediocre fish, when you could just go buy your own and make higher quality rice yourself? More on that regular: when we walked inside he cheerily said, "Oh! You made it in!" Ok yeah buddy, no thanks to you and cutting in front of us with your three guests - don't patronize us. He talked loudly about his friend working on big budget movies - we don't care dude. It was obvious he likes Tekka because he wants to feel special. And if this is the type of person that Nobu and Yoshimi cater to, well, that definitely makes me never want to go back.
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Jenny Dorsey's profile photo
Jenny Dorsey
a year ago
The most adorable mom & pop sushi shop ever. They are very small and conduct business in an old-school Japanese way. The nigiri is ENORMOUS, the rolls are simple, it is cash only, and your meal will take a while. Just breathe and enjoy the experience. Chat with Nobu a little, he'll definitely make you laugh. Order one of each item so you can try everything! I came late on a Monday and there was no wait, but it sounds like if you come earlier than 8pm there is a line. Also - not open on weekends!!
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Gloria Cheng
a year ago
Finally made the cut for one of the 10 spots for the 7 o'clock seating. And the two hour wait was very worth it, made friends in line and since it's a tiny place, continued the conversation throughout dinner although it was hushed as we watched reverently as the master prepared the fish. The sashimi plate is huge and the hot dishes were a great compliment. Did not have room to try any of the nigiri. The portions were amazingly generous.
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Jim Lui
a year ago
The size of a San Francisco studio, this gem might be passed by everyday if there weren't a faithful line waiting for it to open every week day. It's actually not that hard to get one of the ten seats inside. Once inside you're greeted both by husband and wife. Sushi chef slices the fish in front for all to see unless you're sitting behind the counter to his right side. I want to call them slabs of fish actually. Big bang for your buck!
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mr manny
5 months ago
Place is amazing. I'm probably dating myself, but I couldn't help but think of the Flintstones when I was there. Will be back :)
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Melissa Running
12 months ago
Amazing, a must try for anyone that loves real sushi and traditional Japanese culture. House rules, no forks, no soda, no tempura, no teriyaki. All traditional style food. Amazing experience, I feel blessed to have gotten to enjoy it while in San Francisco.
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Lisa Ma
a year ago
This is my favorite mom/pop sushi restaurant in SF. It's a hole in the wall owned by this hardworking older couple. The place is tiny with 11 seats so expect a long wait. The first seating is 6pm and the second seating at 8pm. The reason why people go to such lengths to wait for food is because the sushi is amazing. The sashimi combo is my favorite ... large pieces of sashimi so unbelievably fresh that it melts in our mouth like butter!
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Catherine Chang
a year ago
A true hidden gem. One of my favorite sushi bars in SF. Before I write anything else, I have to say that this is NOT the best sushi I've ever had. It's the experience that makes this place somewhat magical. By experience, I don't mean attentive customer service (actually quite the opposite sometimes) or a luxurious meal. What makes this place special is the atmosphere. It's cozy. A one man and wife operation. Seated at the bar, you get to watch in anticipation as the chef starts to prep your meal. Generally the customers are friendly. It's especially fun when you get to talk to some of the kooky regulars who have been coming for years. Some pro tips: 1. They only seat twice a day Monday-Thursday (apparently Fridays are for regulars or private parties only), once at 7PM and once at 9PM. There are only 10-12 seats available per seating so go EARLY. I recommend getting there by 6 to get 7 PM seating. I've had less trouble getting in for the 9PM seating. Usually getting there by 8:40 will guarantee you a seat. 2. They will not seat a party larger than 4. I recommend going with just 1 or 2 friends anyways. It's more of an intimate experience anyways. 3. Order the sashimi platter. It's big enough to feed two people. Add a nigiri or two and some other small dishes and you should be very full. 4. The fish on the nigiri are HUGE. The size of your iphone - no, I'm not exaggerating. 5. Be social! The friendly regulars usually get some extra special love and dishes from the chef, and they are sometimes happy to share if you strike-up a good conversation. 6. Oh, and prepare to be there for at least 1.5 to 2 hours!
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