All photos (39)Sushi Sam's Edomata
Sushi Sam's Edomata
Sushi Sam's Edomata

Sushi Sam's Edomata

8.820 reviews
$$$$
Japanese, Sushi
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  • 9.8
    Foodies
  • 6.5
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  • 6.1
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218 E 3rd Ave, San Mateo, CA 94401
(650) 344-0888
http://www.sushisams.com/
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Finally returned for their omakase dinner after a slightly underwhelmed lunch visit. I am very glad I came back. Now I finally understand why this place is packed every single day ... Read more
of the week. Happened to be San Mateo downtown on a late Sat afternoon and decided to do a very early dinner. 10 minutes before 5 and there were already people waiting at Sushi Sam. We were seated at the sushi counter as soon as they open. Dinner was the 10 pieces Omakase. The fish selection was exquisite. There were no filler items but only rare and uncommon cut such as rock shrimp, white salmon, artic char, Copper River king salmon, Japanese eel and baby lobster. The quality of the fish as among the highest tier in the area. You can put away that soy sauce bottle and the extra wasabi. All nigiri came seasoned if needed. Mostly with light sauce and simple garnish such as lemon juice, sea salt, green onions. I believe most of the sauce is appropriate and compliments the nigiri well. In some occasions, such as the sesame oil on the king salmon and the lemon on the blue shrimp, I do find the seasoning a bit strong. I might prefer less sauce in general but overall everything is still very satisfying and innovative. My favorite was the lightly torched toro. It might seem kinda crazy to sear a toro but the change in texture really brought out a good contrast to the buttery tenderness. The homemade desserts were good. I enjoyed the green tea tiramisu quite a bit. Custard pudding was average. I only wish the portions weren't so tiny. Our 10 pieces Omakase dinner was about $41 per person and I think it was very good value. I like the omakase at Sushi Sam as much as Kitsuo. While Kitsuo might have more rare imported cuts, the presentation is better at Sushi Sam's. I would definitely come back for more.

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The San Francisco Bay Area

I only tried this place as I seen on yelp all the reviews. So, I had to test this place out for myself. Not impressed at all though it was extremely busy and with all the staff waiting to rush the sushi to all the tables was pretty amusing to watch. Food was overrated at best not the best sushi. The service was outstanding.

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New Delhi

wonderful izakaya type place. there can be a bit of a wait as the restaurant is quite small. one of the better options in San Mateo

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SF Bay Area, Western US

I knew Osamu decades ago before he opened this, putting sushi on boats in Burlingame. That was a long time ago. His dream back then was to open a real Japanese Sushi-Ya, and to show his talents as a sushi chef.

And so he opened up Sushi Sam's in DTSM, and now it has become recognized by a lot of people as one of the best places to get Sushi on the peninsula.

There is usually a line before opening, even on a Tuesday evening like when we came to visit. I got here just before 5pm, and there were 10 people in front of me, representing parties that totaled over 25 people (others still parking.) The lead server came out and checked on the totals of each party (and if they were all present, since you need to be all present usually before seating) before letting them in, to get a sense of the required logistics.

We sat at the sushi bar, because I wanted to be within earshot of Sam, to say hello after so many years, the owner/sushi chef. He is very involved in commanding his 3 assistants to provide good service and good sushi, and he is producing the most nigiri to fill both the counter and table requests. He still uses the colored twosome plates that were the signifying pricing for the bill that he had used way back in his Isobune days.

There is a large specials board behind the sushi bar, of what is fresh, including over 20 seafood items, plus a separate list for kitchen items.

We started with the Omakase 10 piece (2 each) which is a perfect starter for the Nigiri fan, with standards like Amaebi, Maguro, Hamachi, etc. This standard set Omakase is very reasonable compared to most sushi places. Then we proceeded to go down the fresh Nigiri list, picking and choosing less tried and not often available choices and added many more Nigiri to our tasting pleasure.

We ate all of these without added soy or wasabi, just as they were prepared by Sam. He made all the Nigiri for us, and gave us each 2 at a time on the colored plates. He has adapted his offering a bit to trends, including smaller bases of rice (much smaller than the classic Nigiri styles in Japan), and added little garnishment trends of Ponzu (light, citrus soy sauce), a sprinkle of Negi (chopped green onions) or a crowned dab of wasabi (on specific Nigiri, like Uni).

We accompanied all this sushi with 2 different 300ml bottles of dry, chilled sake, which were part of several other choices available.

All the fish was fresh and wonderful, the service was excellent from the largely Hong Kong derived staff, and Sam was his usual playful, but very busy self. He has slowed down a bit with age, but he is still the heart and soul, and very active in this gem of a sushi place.

Come early or come late, because between 6:30 and 8:30, you will wait.

Oishikata! Osashiburi Osamu-san! Mata ne!

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San Francisco
Community Manager

One of the best places in San Mateo for sushi. But beware, if you go, SIT AT THE BAR. Eating at the tables is just not the same.

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Emeryville

Sushi Sam's is incredibly popular, with people lining up for dinner every night. What else would you expect from one of the very few restaurants in the Bay Area that dishes up fresh sushi at incredibly low prices? The ambiance is casual. Credit cards are accepted.

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Local from Santa Clara

Finally returned for their omakase dinner after a slightly underwhelmed lunch visit. I am very glad I came back. Now I finally understand why this place is packed every single day of the week.

Happened to be San Mateo downtown on a late Sat afternoon and decided to do a very early dinner. 10 minutes before 5 and there were already people waiting at Sushi Sam. We were seated at the sushi counter as soon as they open.

Dinner was the 10 pieces Omakase. The fish selection was exquisite. There were no filler items but only rare and uncommon cut such as rock shrimp, white salmon, artic char, Copper River king salmon, Japanese eel and baby lobster. The quality of the fish as among the highest tier in the area.

You can put away that soy sauce bottle and the extra wasabi. All nigiri came seasoned if needed. Mostly with light sauce and simple garnish such as lemon juice, sea salt, green onions. I believe most of the sauce is appropriate and compliments the nigiri well. In some occasions, such as the sesame oil on the king salmon and the lemon on the blue shrimp, I do find the seasoning a bit strong. I might prefer less sauce in general but overall everything is still very satisfying and innovative. My favorite was the lightly torched toro. It might seem kinda crazy to sear a toro but the change in texture really brought out a good contrast to the buttery tenderness.

The homemade desserts were good. I enjoyed the green tea tiramisu quite a bit. Custard pudding was average. I only wish the portions weren't so tiny.

Our 10 pieces Omakase dinner was about $41 per person and I think it was very good value. I like the omakase at Sushi Sam as much as Kitsuo. While Kitsuo might have more rare imported cuts, the presentation is better at Sushi Sam's. I would definitely come back for more.

Recommended for:Business TravellersFoodies
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Local from San Jose

You can't go wrong with anything you order. They'll tell you to not use soy sauce and they were right. All the sushi was flavorful!

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Local from Menlo Park

Very casual restaurant with yummy fresh sushi. It is always packed and they want take reservations on the weekend. Definitely go back there again.

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San Francisco

The always popular Sam's in San Mateo has good reasons to be such a local's favorite: reasonably priced and really really fresh sushi items. The service is really fast and there are really no ambiance to speak of. That's when you know people come here from all over to devour their fish and not to "take in" the ambiance.

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Local from San Carlos

Great sushi, very fresh, lots of options. Service here can be spotty - sometimes they're totally on top of everything, other times you have to remind them that you ordered something.

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A good neighborhood lively fun atmospheric sushi bar and restaurant in downtown San Mateo, with upscale sushi restaurant prices to boot (price of wholesale fish has gone up drastically throughout the years due to heavy demand and consumption), that have also made Sushi Sam's a local favorite.

Those who have been following owner Ohsamu Sugiyama (and Mrs Sugiyama) will know that previous to opening up his own place, he worked at Isobune in the 80s (yep the sushi boat place), and lucky for everyone the rest is history.

Sam is very ambitious in bringing over an eclectic variety of special fish from Japan to satisfy his clientele (many of which are the types that demand nothing but the best, and keep coming back), of which on a good day you may see 25 to 30 kinds of fish on the white board. Unfortunately for the traditionalists, Sam and his assistant chefs stick with a 7 year old formula of, at times over garnishing their nigiri sushi's, basically innovating a new style that involves saucing, adding more condiments, searing, and adding western/Euro/alt touches to enhance the experience. Some combinations work very well (e.g. baby lobster tail with special enhanced mayo), and others end up being overpowered in flavor, which is more noticeable when the particular fish in question is not in season or peak natural flavor.

Even with that said, a good sushi meal isn't complete with small side cooked dishes. Do not miss the "wagyu beef stew" or whatever it is called these days, which is Sam's wife's take on Cantonese beef brisket and tendon stew (suji nikomi is one way of interpreting it). This stuff is so good it is not funny, and sometimes not even available. Maguro gyoza for those wanting a slice of izakaya dining, yet a more fanciful take on comfort food. Grilled black cod? Not bad, but $ for a small slice. You get the picture.

Other than that, Sam's special (tempura handroll), Spider Roll, Chili Dog (spicy tuna with wakame salad), which while are Americanized inventions, have become part of Sam's signatures, that they can also be quite enjoyable (despite my mostly traditionalist stances).

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Local from San Jose

Hmmmmm sushi! *drool

I am fond of this place and wish it were closer to where i live.. giving me yet another option to the long list of sushi places in my area. I've had my fair share of sushi and I am never disappointed by my experience here.

Keep in mind go early because it's gets full and busy really fast because it's soo good. I understand sometimes service can lag but it's not because of negligence but just because the place is packed most of the time.

I'd rather wait for good food than not eat good food.
;D

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Fremont

One of the best sushi joints in the peninsula, Sam won't disappoint. They recently went thru a lot of remodeling. I remember 5 years ago when they were still very old school...I honestly liked it better that way. Now, it's even harder to get seated or get good service, but obviously their sushi is still outstanding. They get fish from the same markets as Sushi Ran and Ino.

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Local from San Mateo

Great lunchtime japanese - with a different lunch special each day of the week - figure out what day your favorite special is served and get a great deal!

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Try the chef's choice - awesome!

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Hillsborough

Best sushi outside of the city.

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Local from San Carlos
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Sydney
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New York City
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Local from San Mateo
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Sushi Sam's Edomata

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