Agreed to drive w/ hubby from Santa Cruz to the Bay Area on Fri. to do a stereo-related errand solely w/ the understanding that food would follow. Not a bad deal for him. Stopped in SJ's J-town for sushi around 7pm since I crave it but can't replicate at home well and haven't had desire to try much sushi in SC (although Sushi on the Run in Aptos was pretty good).
We were torn btwn. Kubota (5th and Jackson) and Gombei (Jackson btwn. 4th & 5th), but settled upon Kubota since we needed a sushi fix. We were promptly seated at the sushi bar since all tables were full. We received full attn. from our sushi chef since we were the only diners at the bar, which turned out to be convenient but also a bit uncomfortable for private conversation. Decor is cozy modern in an IKEA sort of way. 4 main seating areas that contain noise level and create intimacy--noticed lots of families w/ young kids/infants in one area.
We ordered ALL sushi--2 different combos ($14 and $17) containing various nigiri and rolls and 2 a la carte pieces of uni (sea urchin)--for dessert! Combos didn't overlap too much and covered good range of classic sushi (salmon, unagi, tuna, halibut, yellowtail, shrimp) and rolls (California, tuna, shrimp tempura). All fish was fresh and beautifully sliced in a way that spoke to the delicate and trained hands of the venerable but humble sushi master. Rice was molded firmly and pieces were small and elegant--the way they were meant to be. Favorite was salmon & yellowtail and, although not usually a big fan of the Cali roll, it melted in my mouth. However, thought the shrimp tempura was chewy and not flavorful and uni at the end had delicate texture but was too chilled and passive in flavor--never had this before though so can't compare. Combos came w/ choice of soup or salad so we got one of each. Surprisingly big portions--miso soup had a few strands of silky noodle, and salad had some pink-hued creamy dressing that was tangy yet sweet. 2 combos, 2 uni, 2 teas = $40 before tip.
Overall, I would recommend this place for classic sushi. Their menu also has many cooked items and some of the specials sounded great, so we'll definitely be back to try more. We'll make it to Gombei one day...