Review: Robin.

The newest addition to Hayes Valley, Robin, isn’t quite your typical traditional Japanese joint.

Since this new hot spot just opened about two weeks ago, you know your girl had to check it out. With hip-hop music blasting in the background and a funky eclectic décor, Robin showcases fusion sushi with a Californian influence. They offer either a $79-$179 omakase (only available at the sushi bar) or an à la carte menu at the tables. Typically I’m a purist when it comes to sushi, the idea of a sushirrito and over the top rolls appalls me, but their menu intrigued me.

I luckily snagged a reservation at the sushi bar since I wanted the omakase experience and once we were seated, the chef asked us what our budget was. We decided for a $150 omakase each, which is definitely pricey, so our expectations were high to say the least.

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Sushi Counter.

We arrived right when the restaurant opened and it seemed like they weren’t quite ready for service. I’d say the first 30 minutes, they seemed to be struggling perhaps because they were behind on their mise en place.

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Golden Snapper Sashimi with Melon and Seaweed (6/10).

I love golden eye snapper (kinmedai) but the chef said this is golden snapper which is something I’ve never tried before. The sashimi was fine with the sweet juicy melon and seaweed but I felt like I wanted something more exciting to start off.

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Masu/Trout Nigiri with Fig (8/10).

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Ume Madai/Red Seabream Nigiri with Umeshio and Lemon (7.5-8/10).

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Shima Aji/Striped Jack Nigiri with Yuzu Kosho (8.5/10).

Out of the first three nigiri, my favorite was the shima aji (striped jack) that had a nice punch from the yuzu kosho on top. The trout was definitely an unique nigiri topped with fig, something I’ve never had.

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A5 Wagyu Beef Tartare with Bafun Uni, Pear, and Pickled Shallots on Nori Chip (8/10).

Wagyu+uni=fuckin’ delicious. The sweetness of the diced pear paired nicely with the richness of the beef and brininess of the uni.

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Ishidai/Striped Beakfish Belly Nigiri with Black Kombu Salt and Lemon (7/10).

I’ve never tried ishidai (striped beakfish) belly but this had an almost unctuous and meaty quality to the fish which I liked. The black kombu (seaweed) salt addd the necessary seasoning.

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Bincho Maguro/Albacore Sashimi with Radish and Ponzu (7/10).

I was slightly bored by this dish. It just seemed elementary and unoriginal.

The next 11 pieces of nigiri all differed in texture, flavor, and creativity. Of course I enjoyed some more than others.

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Menuke/Sea Perch Nigiri with Sansho Pepper (7/10).

Hiramasa/Greater Amberjack Nigiri with Granny Smith Apple (8/10).

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Sake/King Salmon Nigiri with Whipped Tofu, Confit Tomato, and Thai Basil (8.5/10).

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Kinki/Thornhead Nigiri with Daikon (8/10).

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Potato Chip Nigiri with Smoked Caviar and Ramp Aioli (8/10).

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Akami/Bluefin Tuna Nigiri (8/10).

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Hamachi/Yellowtail Nigiri with Horseradish and Preserved Yuzu (8.5-9/10).

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Chutoro/Medium Fatty Tuna Nigiri (9/10).

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Okoze/Velvet Fish Nigiri (7/10).

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Uni with Egg Yolk Emulsion (9/10).

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Hokkaido Uni Nigiri (9/10).

The majority of the nigiri we tried were actually more on the traditional side which I appreciated such as the hamachi (yellowtail), akami (lean tuna), and chutoro (fatty tuna that literally melts in your mouth). The sake (salmon) was probably the most “out there” nigiri with whipped tofu, confit cherry tomato (so good), and Thai basil. Fun and delicious. The other unique nigiri was the potato chip with smoked caviar and ramp aioli. Potato and caviar is already a traditional perfect pairing so this was a fun dish. Of course, I’m an uni lover and both the uni nigiris were creamy with a balance between brininess and sweetness.

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Sesame Noodles with Black Truffle and Japanese Chimichurri (8/10).

If you know me, you know I love carbs…so this was right up my alley. Long strands of noodles tossed in a Japanese style chimichurri and finely grated black truffle. Simple but so satisfying. The only problem was that I wanted more!

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Wagyu Nigiri with Foie Gras Snow (8/10).

While the flavor of this was so bomb, the wagyu was slightly tough and didn’t quite melt in my mouth how I wanted it to.

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Onsen Tamago with Maitake Mushroom Soup (8/10).

Eggs+mushrooms are actually my worst nightmare! But I have to say the broth was intensely rich and flavorful. However I didn’t eat the mushrooms or the egg but Tommy seemed to enjoy it.

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Temaki with Various Fish (9/10).

I love temaki, it reminds me of childhood. This handroll was packed with various types of fish from lean to fatty that just all harmonized together.

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Sake Lees Soft Serve with Pistachios and Blueberries (7/10).

Sake lees, the remnants after sake making, have a very distinctive taste that some people may not enjoy. However I’ve had a few desserts in the past with sake lees and I really appreciate the slight alcohol yeasty flavor with a touch of sweetness. It was an appropriate ending to the meal.

Even though my ratings for the dishes were overall solid, I felt like for $150 I wanted to be wowed and I just wasn’t. When I read the à la carte menu online, everything sounded much more exciting and innovative so I was slightly disappointed in my experience. While I was satisfied with the portions, Tommy was still quite hungry after dinner and at that price point he expected to be satiated (we actually went down the street to good ol’ MB for a second dinner which I know is ridiculous). Opening a restaurant is by no means an easy task and they did just open a few weeks ago so they’re still working out the kinks.  Would I go back again? It’s hard to say so my rating is a 7.5-8/10.

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