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Opera Plaza Sushi (415) 292-9997 601 Van Ness Ave San Francisco, CA 94102
Moshi Moshi (415) 861-8285 2092 3rd St San Francisco, CA 94107
The venue for my Traffic School adventure was a down-market hotel I drive past on the way to work every
week day. It's on a traffic-heavy street, not the kind of area you'd
necessarily choose to hang out in. I'd decided beforehand, that
whatever happened, I would at least treat myself to some lunch on the
short break I knew they would give us. I was close to the Opera Plaza,
where I recalled seeing a little sushi bar, tucked away, almost out of
sight. Fred is a non-fish eater so I figured this was a good time to
indulge in one of my passions without having to worry about not
involving him. I guessed I wouldn't feel uncomfortable sitting there, at
the bar, by myself , so off I marched down Franklin street, with an
unread food magazine in hand, to give it a try.
It was empty when I walked in. (We'd been sent for our lunch at 11.45!) I
called out to the guy standing behind the bar and asked if they were
open. He nodded and invited me to take a seat before dashing out through a
back door. A waiter soon arrived and bought me green tea. I ordered a small
hot sake and started to browse the menu. There was a specials board
which caught my eye with it's promise of Aji (Spanish mackerel). Aji is
about the only sushi fish that is more widespread in Europe than it is
here. I love it and so if I see it, I can't resist it. I ordered some,
along with a few standards, Californian handroll (fresh crab, they
assured me), spicy tuna hand roll and sake nigiri. The chef arrived. He
was, in fact, the gentleman who'd originally greeted me, but he'd
changed into a Japanese-style robe and was ready to start preparing my
lunch. "The Aji is not fresh" he told me, "no good", so I ordered unagi
California Hand Roll
Crab dry, tough and wirey-textured. No moisture whatsoever left in this
sorry piece of crustacean. The flesh was almost as hard as its shell
must once have been. Ew.
Spicy Tuna Handroll
A generous amount of diced tuna coated in a very hot sauce. Almost hot enough to stop me detecting that the fish was actually off. I am sure the spice was masking the tuna's lack of freshness. Ew, ew. A total reject after just one bite.
Plump, juicy pieces of unagi, but with a little too much fat for my taste.
Good clean, fresh-tasting salmon. The only commendable sushi I tried.
Moshi Moshi is a bright, welcoming space with lively, friendly staff. The food is very good and extremely fresh. We shared a small but tasty seaweed and a cold, clean-tasting tofu appetizer to start. Our tastes don't differ that much when it comes to raw fish so we divided a plate of hamachi sashimi, ten slices of tender, glistening fish, served at exactly the right temperature. It was beautifully presented with half of the pieces curled into a pretty rose shape. It tasted perfect.
We each had a handroll too. I went for a California, and in stark contrast to the Opera Plaza Sushi's version, Moshi Moshi's roll contained whole pieces of crab meat, still shaped like the creature's claw. D's spicy tuna roll couldn't have been further from the Opera Plaza one either. It contained delicious looking, deep red slices of fish. I regretted not having enough room to try one myself.
We lingered, perhaps a little too long, gossiping, after paying for our check, and as we were the last to leave, apologized for having kept the staff hanging on for our departure. They assured us we had caused no problem and continued to tell us about their open-mic nights for poetry readings every Monday. Maybe we'll give it a try, if we have time before D makes her journey to a new life down South...