The belly of the beast
One of my favorite happy hours for sushi is brought to you by Sushi Time, secreted down in an anonymous little nook of The Castro. It’s like a little wad of cud some forlorn cow forgot in the back of its mouth. If that’s not an image to get the dams of your salivary glands bursting, then take them into Ye Olde Gland Dam Repair and get them fixed.
Sushi Time is tucked away in the basement of a small, indoor shopping court on Market Street, just after 16th Street. The only clue to its existence is a small, beat-up sandwich board placed out on the sidewalk, on which is painted a faded red arrow pointing indoors. Let your eyes adjust after walking into the gloom of the atrium, gaze straight ahead while positioned at the top of a short flight of stone steps and your eyes are level with a blazing neon sign that reads “Sushi Time”, with another arrow indicating down and to the left a long tube-like form reminiscent of a subway car. Duck inside this cozy subterranean construct and be enveloped by a humid but comfortable warmth accompanied by the smell of dashi, sake and vinegared sushi rice.
The aforementioned happy hour is a smashing deal by anybody’s reckoning, considering the consistently high quality of the ingredients used. From five to six p.m you can get large bottles of Asahi Super Dry for five dollars, large hot sakes for four, large cold ones for thirteen, pots of tea for a dollar, and various maki (sushi rolls) for between four and five.
A perusal outside the confines of the happy hour list also reveals some bargains, including Uni Nigiri for only seven dollars. Also, they handle a few classic non-sushi dishes such as Shiro Maguro Tataki (lightly seared Albacore with ponzu, grated daikon, ginger and green onion) or Hamachi Kama (whole roasted tuna collar) like the seasoned pros they are. They’re a cool, laid-back gang hunkered down in that bulbous culinary tube in the damp netherworld of The Castro, and it’s a simple thing to lose a couple of hours in their good company.
P.S.: Locals only, please, and no screaming babies.
2275 Market Street (@ 16th Street & Noe)