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SARU SUSHI & BAR – A beloved sushi gem nestled in the heart of the neighborhood, cherished by its loyal local patrons.
Thoughtfully selected and elegantly displayed, Saru Sushi & Bar SF showcases a constellation of fine fish at its intimate sushi and sake bar, adorned with artistic flair.
Established in 2012 within the historic location that has housed some of San Francisco’s longest-standing Japanese restaurants, Saru is the culmination of the unwavering dedication of two passionate individuals. The Saru team diligently endeavors to provide patrons with delectable cuisine at affordable prices, all delivered with a warm and welcoming hospitality that leaves a lasting impression.
Nestled amidst the scenic splendor of Noe Valley’s rolling hills, Saru beckons with a promise of a lively and captivating dining experience. The menu, a harmonious fusion of authentic Japanese flavors with a dash of Californian innovation, invites you to savor delights like grilled shishito peppers harmonizing with crisp daikon, enlivened by a spirited ponzu dressing.
Adorned with a multitude of prestigious accolades and awards, including recognition from the Michelin Guide and the esteemed title of one of San Francisco’s finest sushi establishments.
Embark on your culinary odyssey with their signature creation: a tempura-fried seaweed cracker, simply flavorful Hokkaido scallops, elegantly crowned with spicy tuna and creamy avocado. Follow this delightful prologue with impeccably portioned tasting spoons, offering seared ankimo paired with scallions and halibut tartare, kissed by the vibrant notes of yuzu—a symphony of flavors designed for swift indulgence. While an array of sushi rolls graces the menu with the perfect Japanese rice, connoisseurs of Saru often gravitate towards the nigiri selection, where treasures like Japanese Wagyu, Hokkado scallops, kampachi, baby snapper, and succulent snow crab await discerning palates. For those craving an adventurous dining experience, the omakase offerings, including an all-salmon variation, beckon.
Keep in mind that Saru operates on a first-come, first-served basis, embracing spontaneity over reservations. To savor this culinary gem without delay, it’s advisable to arrive early and revel in the anticipation, leaving the bustling lines behind.
Chef Billy Kong have participated in many interviews of food and lifestyle related magazines, and he recently had a chance to talk to Dep Lifestyle Magazine about his thoughts.
When he embarked on the venture of launching Saru Sushi Bar, his vision was clear: to defy the conventions of a traditional sushi establishment. In our conversation, he shares insights into his remarkable journey of acquiring knowledge and honing his skills in Japan, the certification program of Japanese Food and Ingredient Supporter Stores Overseas, culminating in his commitment to crafting sushi as an art form. Chef Kong’s culinary prowess ranges from the art of perfecting Japanese rice to working with the finest Wagyu beef, from skillfully serving Hokkaido scallops to creating the daily fresh delights that grace the tables at Saru Sushi & Bar in San Francisco.
Embracing Japan’s Culinary Odyssey: Chef Billy Kong’s Inspirational Journey
For Chef Billy Kong, the decision to embark on a transformative training experience in Japan marked a pivotal moment in his career. Venturing into the heartland of sushi craftsmanship was the ultimate quest to become a true master of the art. With two decades of dedication as a sushi chef under his belt, his time in the MAFF Training program became the linchpin that shaped his journey, enabling him to not only manage Michelin-starred sushi establishments but also launch two successful ventures in San Francisco alongside former business partners.
His initiation into the intricacies of Japanese culinary finesse took root at Restaurant Zeniya in Kanazawa, a place where the elegant Kaiseki style harmonizes with the local Kanazawa cuisine. Chef Billy Kong delved into the nuances of daily menu selection, the art of sourcing seasonal ingredients, and the meticulous craft of curating the perfect culinary experience for each guest. It was here that he absorbed not just the techniques but also the profound philosophy that underpins Japanese gastronomy.
Love and passion were the driving forces behind Chef Kong’s dream to work and train in Japan. He began his culinary journey from the humble position of a dishwasher, a role that laid the foundation for his ascent. After a year of dedication, he embarked on his true odyssey in Japan, commencing his voyage in the vibrant culinary landscape of Okinawa.
The culinary reins at Zeniya are under the expert head Chef and the team then, chef Kong was able to bring fresh perspectives to the tables at SARU Sushi today, introducing menus that encompass both the traditional Kaiseki, a multi-course culinary symphony, and sushi-focused omakase experiences. This remarkable journey stands as a testament to Chef Kong’s enduring passion for his craft and his unyielding dedication to elevating San Francisco’s culinary landscape to new heights.
A Culinary Journey: Japanese Seafood Imported and Local Flavors at Saru Sushi & Bar
At Saru Sushi & Bar, Chef Billy Kong’s commitment to culinary excellence shines through in his meticulous selection of ingredients. With a harmonious blend of imported Japanese delicacies and locally sourced treasures, this establishment elevates the dining experience to new heights.
Chef Kong’s discerning palate leads him to seek out only the finest ingredients, and he leaves no stone unturned in his pursuit of culinary excellence. From the shores of Japan come the must-have imports: pristine fish, delectable seafood, and the renowned Wagyu beef. Each ingredient tells a story. These ingredients are carefully chosen, each with a unique story to tell and a distinct regional flavor that reflects the essence of specific Japanese prefectures.
Chef Kong’s culinary journey reached an apex during his transformative six-month sojourn in Japan. Immersed in the art of traditional kaiseki cuisine, he not only honed his culinary skills but also delved deep into the rich tapestry of Japanese culture. This profound experience enriched his knowledge, providing a deeper understanding of the diverse world of Japanese white fish and unveiling the best that Japan has to offer.
Yet, Chef Kong’s commitment to authenticity doesn’t stop at imports. He treasures the abundance of local ingredients, seamlessly weaving them into his menu to celebrate the culinary treasures of the Bay Area. From Madai (Tai/Sea Bream) sourced from Chiba to Hamachi (Yellowtail) from Ishikawa, Anago (eel) from Shimane Prefecture, and Hotatei (scallop) from Hokkaido, Japan, Chef Kong’s menu pays homage to the regional flavors that the Bay Area has to offer. His ability to bridge the gap between the culinary traditions of two nations, creating a harmonious that tantalizes the taste buds of his patrons and foodies alike.
At Saru Sushi & Bar, every dish reflects a passion for perfection, where imported excellence meets local treasures in a symphony of flavors. Chef Kong’s dedication to delivering a truly authentic Japanese culinary experience is evident in every bite, making this Saru Sushi & Bar a destination for those seeking the finest authentic in Japanese cuisine.
Chef Billy Kong’s culinary journey took an enriching turn when he embarked on a year-long educational expedition to Kyoto, Japan.
His destination was the renowned Kyoto Culinary Art College at Taiwai Gakuen, where he delved into a world of technique, ingredients, culture, and understanding.
At Taiwa Gakuen, Chef Kong’s quest for knowledge encompassed an extensive curriculum. He immersed himself in the art of Japanese cuisine and food culture, gaining insights that would shape his culinary prowess. The institution plays a pivotal role in the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries’ (MAFF) Human Resource Development Program, actively championing Japanese cuisine and fostering an environment for foreign trainees to embrace the intricacies of Japanese culinary culture.
Kyoto, with its illustrious history as Japan’s ancient capital, served as Chef Kong’s backdrop for this educational voyage. The city’s culinary heritage and traditions evolved hand in hand with its vibrant culture. During his tenure at the Kyoto Culinary Art College, Chef Kong embarked on a comprehensive exploration of authentic Japanese cuisine. He started from the very foundations, mastering the art of creating fundamental broths and sauces, and progressed to advanced topics such as the delicate craft of sashimi and the intricate world of traditional kaiseki dining.
However, Chef Kong’s education extended beyond the classroom. Kyoto itself became his teacher, a city where every street, market, and restaurant offered profound lessons in Japanese gastronomy. The city’s historical significance seamlessly intertwined with its culinary heritage, providing Chef Kong with a holistic understanding of the deep-rooted relationship between culture and cuisine.
Chef Billy Kong’s sojourn in Japan was more than just a study abroad experience; it was a transformative journey that shaped his culinary identity..
Chef Billy Kong’s Culinary Expertise: Elevating Sushi with Hokkaido Scallops and Exquisite Sushi Rice
Hokkaido scallops hold a special place in Chef Kong’s kitchen. These delightful morsels boast a natural sweetness, a unique texture, and a captivating color palette that sets them apart from their local counterparts in the United States. It’s a distinction that the discerning San Francisco clientele can truly savor and appreciate.
At Saru Sushi, Chef Billy Kong brings an artisanal touch to the heart of his sushi: the rice. With meticulous precision, he blends 70% Koshihikari rice, known for its sticky, chewy texture and natural sweetness, with 30% Akita Komachi rice, celebrated for its balanced umami, firm texture, and aromatic qualities. Chef Kong emphasizes the paramount importance of this blend, as it forms the foundation of every sushi creation.
In Japanese culinary culture, rice takes center stage in sushi, revered as the most critical element. Precise cooking, seasoning, and shaping are paramount to crafting a sushi dish that is not only delicious but also visually appealing. Without this meticulously crafted rice, sushi as we know it today would not exist.
While sushi’s fame often revolves around its fish, Chef Kong underscores that the rice’s role is equally, if not more, vital. Despite widespread misconceptions, Japanese sushi is far more than just raw fish atop rice. It’s a multifaceted culinary art that harmonizes a variety of ingredients, flavors, and techniques. Chef Kong even goes to great lengths to filter water, mirroring the soft water quality found in Japan, to ensure his sushi rice achieves perfection.
To all aspiring overseas and Japanese chefs who are considering participating in similar programs in the future
Embarking on a culinary journey like the one Chef Billy Kong undertook is a remarkable opportunity to enrich your culinary skills and deepen your understanding of a diverse and vibrant culinary landscape. Here are some words of advice and encouragement:
Embrace cultural immersion, openness to learning, attention to details, adaptability, and continuous learning, and remain committed to refining your skills.
SARU SUSHI & BAR
3856 24th Street, San Francisco, CA 94114, U.S.A.
Tel: +1 (425) 400-4510 E-mail: email@example.com
by Manda Bear