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chowhoundX | Sep 21, 200102:24 AM     4

I was eating at Aya tonight, the sushi place on Chestnut @ Steiner. Sitting next to me at the counter was a guy named Kuriyama, who claimed to have built the sushi counters and interiors at sushi places all around the Bay Area. Saji, Hama-Ko, Tekka, Rikyu (now closed), Fujiya and Murasaki are just a few examples of his handiwork.

Kuriyama told me he's most proud of Kiku of Tokyo in the Hilton. He said he built a great Japanese room there. Anyone ever been?

He also takes pride in his work at Kappa -- a secret place (according to him) located above Denny's in SF Japantown. He said Kappa is owned by the guy who sold Tekka to the current owner (which is cute, since tekka-maki and kappa-maki are the two basic rolls). Nevertheless, both Kuriyama and the Aya sushi chef warned me against going to Kappa. "It's the same fish as I've got here, and you're going to pay $150 just to walk in," the chef said. Anyone ever been there?

By the way, I really like Aya. The sushi chef changed there about 9 months ago. The current guy said he's the owner and that the old sushi chef quit. "I used to wash dishes so when he quit I came out to the front," he said. I think he was kidding. Agedashi-dofu there is the best I've had in SF in my 2 years here.

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