Ryo Sakai and Cory Jackson, a couple of longtime friends and coworkers, just opened the sushi restaurant they’ve talked about for years: Kuma Sushi & Sake at 1040 Polk Street. The small, walk-in only restaurant at the corner of Post Street seats 25 people, mostly at the bar and on an adjacent bench, and it’s priced to be the kind of neighborhood restaurant where diners can go “on a random Wednesday night,” as Jackson puts it.
Kuma’s menu includes starters, salads, and small plates like cauliflower age-dashi ($8) and savory egg custard called chawanmushi ($9), and tasting spoons including salmon with capers and onions and fluke with yuzu and lime. There are traditional and specialty rolls from $5 to $14 as well as chef’s choice (omakase) offerings in a range of prices, like 10 pieces of sashimi for $32.
In general, Jackson and Sakai want to serve repeat customers in the neighborhood without incurring anyone’s overdraft fees. “If you want to order a plate full of uni, that’s obviously going to be expensive,” Jackson adds as a disclaimer.
Kuma is working with local fishmonger TwoXSea, which supplies many of the area’s sushi restaurants, and focusing on local fish whenever possible. “It’s not everything we do,” Jackson admits, “but it’s where our priorities lie... we definitely take valuable menu space to mention where our fish comes from.”
Sakai, who grew up in San Francisco, and Jackson, who’s from Salt Lake City, previously worked together at Domo in Hayes Valley. They collaborated on pop-ups as Kuma before securing their space in March, and their timing has been oddly fortunate. Sakai broke his collar bone in a biking accident a few months ago, and had a chance to heal while the restaurant was being built out.
Kuma is focused on the neighborhood, and Jackson says that he and Sakai have been hitting up the nearby bars even after long shifts at the restaurant: “The guys at Jackalope have been really nice to us.” That said, Kuma has plenty of wine, sake, and beer of its own, including nicer options like Koshihikari Echigo, a premium rice lager, and less expensive ones like Sapporo.
Kuma is closed Mondays and open Tuesday through Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 11 p.m., Saturday from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m., and Sunday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
- A Tiny Sushi Restaurant With Some Serious Chops Heads to the Tendernob [ESF]
- Kuma Sushi + Sake [Official]
- Kuma Sushi + Sake Now Softly Open on Polk [Tablehopper]