First Bite: Ichi Sushi
Those who frequent Bender's Bar are probably familiar with Tim Archuleta—if not by name, then by sushi, which he peddles under the name Ichi Sushi and serves at the Mission bar Monday nights during happy hour. He (and wife Erin) are also proprieters of Lucky Cat, a Japanese deli housed in the 331 Cortland marketplace in Bernal Heights (home also to Bernal Cutlery, Wholesome Bakery and El Porteño empanadas).
Last month, the Archuletas opened their first brick-and-mortar sushi restaurant, Ichi Sushi, on Mission Street (at Godeus). It's a bright spot on a strip that, save for Blue Plate, is a bit of a dining desert (Emmy's Spaghetti Shack, while satisfying at times, can't be considered a dining destination.)
Walk into the tiny space and it's Tim you'll see first, standing behind the counter. It turns out mastering the art of expertly slicing raw fish is not a birthright—he learned the skill while sous chef at Tokyo Go Go. The offerings at Ichi are standard fare, but well-executed—pristine sashimi and nigiri, a small selection of cold dishes (including an excellent, crisp Japanese cucumber salad with miso dressing and cold buckwheat noodles with shiso pesto) and the usual list of specialty rolls.
The restaurant has no kitchen to speak of, so preparation of hot dishes and rolls with fried ingredients depend on the use of an immersion circulator (for sous vide cooking), a glorified toaster oven and a tiny deep fryer. The challenges are difficult to overcome—best to stick with the raw and cold, perhaps beginning with a bowl of miso soup, studded with creamy tofu, if you need to take the chill off.