A Sushi Secret


Nobu-san at work.

One day my friend Jen was walking along Balboa and stumbled upon Tekka—a diamond-in-the-rough, 10-seater izakaya/sushi spot in the Richmond. It’s a true mom-and-pop run by Nobu and Yoshimi, a husband-and-wife team from Japan, and while the rules are extensive, the end result is more than worth it.

The wait.

The gist: They open at 7 p.m. (or thereabouts, depending on their schedule) so come at about 6:30 p.m. to line up at the door. Since maybe 11 people can squeeze in at the sushi bar and at the small table by the window, the opportunity to dine here can be hit or miss (I think I’m averaging two trips for every one meal actually eaten here). If you arrive to a line of 12 people, go to plan B. (For us, we usually get a drink at the Richmond and come back around 9 or 9:30 p.m.) Oh, and they’re not open on Saturday or Sunday—just the weekdays. And that’s not all. There are 10 rules to follow (see the photo, #3 shouldn’t be crossed out: “No reservations.”), and they don’t take cash. Last but not least, the menu is a dry-erase board by the kitchen and much of the hot-food list (if there is one) is in Japanese. Good luck.

#3 still applies: No reservations.

I bet you’re wondering why people would put up with all of that in a city known for its impeccable restaurant service, but here’s the reward: a gigantic plate full of fresh, buttery fish, nigiri so large it requires at least three bites instead of one (which doesn’t bother me, but annoys some purists) and beautiful vegetables cooked just right—all for a fraction of what most sushi places charge.

The pay-off

I’d understand if you’d call me a fool for loving this spot, and I’m not telling you to go (in fact, don’t—or else I’ll never get in!), but it’s heartening to know that in a city of celebrity-status chefs, little Nobu and Yoshimi are holding their own.
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