Get ready, sushi fans: Ichi Sushi just got a whole lot bigger, thanks to the debut of its sizable new location, Ichi Sushi + Ni Bar, which opens today in Bernal Heights. With demand high at their shoebox-sized original location (it closed on Saturday), the duo of Tim and Erin Archuleta have moved down the street to a capacious, attractive new home, complete with a name that suits its status ("Ichi" means one in Japanese, and "ni" means two). They've aimed to preserve the intimacy of the original location by dividing their new space in two: the 30-seat sushi bar, in front, includes a counter for omakase sampling and a handful of tables, while Ni Bar serves as an izakaya with drinks. This means there are some rules: while sushi diners are welcome to order anything they like from the izakaya menu, the reverse doesn't apply to izakaya diners, who have a few raw options like sashimi but are mostly encouraged to stick to cooked fare (a mostly new frontier for the restaurant, which lacked a real kitchen in its old location).
Sushi chef de cuisine Erik Aplin heads up the front of the room, which focuses on sustainable seafood sourced from points local and Japanese alike. Seared albacore, scallops, shrimp, salmon roe, and sea urchin are perennials, and seasonal specials can include two kinds of mackerel and yellowtail, fluke, sardines, geoduck clam, and many other aquatic treats. Here's the standard sushi menu, and the sushi specials menu. As for the newly added izakaya plates in the Ni Bar, they were developed by Tim Archuleta in collaboration with Chris Kiyuna (Mission Bowling Club), and include charcoal-grilled chicken-thigh and pork-shoulder skewers, yuzu fried chicken wings, short-rib and tripe stew, and more. Here's the Ni Bar menu.
Ken Furusawa (Range, Rubicon) is heading up the bar program, which features both American (Mission, Abita) and Japanese (Asahi, Hitachino) brews, as well as four draft wines (three whites and a red), including a custom blend from Andis Wines. 20 bottles, with six by-the-glass options, complete the menu, with a focus on seafood-friendly vintages that boast plenty of acidity. And of course, there will be sake (with a seasonally rotating selection of about 20 bottles) and shochu (available by the glass or in fun loophole cocktails, like a take on a margarita with salted plum, lime, and shiso leaf). A weekday happy hour will feature discounted draft beer and hot sake, as well as those wings and the pork tonkatsu sliders that earned Ichi acclaim at their now-closed Lucky Cat Deli in the 331 Cortland marketplace. Here's the drink menu.
Thomas Pippin (Lifebox Studios) and Kevin Balestrieri (Bali Construction) made over the space in a manner that resembles the old location, with lots of blonde wood, metal, and clean lines. One big change: there's a huge and charming mural depicting the best way to consume one's sushi, designed by Eric Marinovich and based on a collaborative article the Archuletas did with The Bold Italic. As for the old location, it's staying in the Ichi family, and the Archuletas plan to give it a quick renovation and turn it into a raw bar later in the spring. Hours are Monday-Thursday, 5:30-10 pm, and Friday-Saturday, 5:30-11 pm, with happy hour debuting next week on weekdays from 4-6 pm. Reservations are available on OpenTable, or by phone until up to 4 pm the day before dining.
· Ichi Sushi Expanding to Bigger Location Across the Street [~ ESF ~]
· The Gatekeepers: Ichi Sushi's Erin Archuleta [~ ESF ~]
· A Day In The Life Of Ichi's Sushi Chef [~ ESF ~]