Sushi Ran

Sushi Ran's modest digs on Caledonia Street in Sausalito.

Sushi Ran's modest digs on Caledonia Street in Sausalito.

There are times Sushi Ran almost suffers from its own success.

The venerable Sausalito sushi favorite has been deemed by some food writers as not only among the best Japanese restaurants in the Bay Area, but among the best in the country. It has been lauded by Zagat, as well as several nation-wide foodie magazines, and even earned a Michelin star in 2006 (currently boasting a Bib Gourmand ranking from the esteemed French restaurant guide.)

So it’s easy to overlook Sushi Ran as the unassuming neighborhood eatery it’s been all these years. Located south of the touristy Bridgeway on Sausalito’s Caledonia Street—that’s where the locals go—the modest restaurant boasts a casual beach-bungalow vibe that’s likely surprising to diners who only know it from writeups in Time Out and Wine Spectator.

The restaurant purchases fish from Tokyo’s Tsukiji Market.

Sushi Ran has grown over the years. Originally hosting fewer than 30 diners, longtime owner Yoshi Tome expanded to more than 90 seats several years ago and, having kept the covered outdoor area established during the pandemic, the restaurant’s capacity is greater than ever. Tome took over the restaurant from its previous owner in the mid-1980s and even today is likely seen on any given night welcoming out of towners and snapping photos with regulars.

On our recent visit we were seated in the street-facing covered patio; the place was buzzing with light chatter—no doubt spurred by the extensive saki menu, which is helpfully grouped by simple descriptors (rich, fragrant, light and smooth) and provides details about what notes to taste for with each glass. (Tome has become a bona fide sake expert over the years and has conducted sake-appreciation classes for locals and staff.) Two-ounce tastes run mostly $5 to $10; glasses mostly $12 to $18. Flights of three tastes are available, as well.

Our pre-sushi starters included spinach salad ($12) and kakiage ($15), a tempura-style fritter of shrimp, onion, shitake and various vegetables. The salad featured pressed greens in a rich and savory black sesame sauce, while the tempura was livened by accompanying dashes of wasabi salt—both items were recommendations from Yoshi and got the meal off to a mouthwatering start.

Tome got his start as an educator in the late 1970s and came to the U.S. from Japan through a teaching exchange program. Landing a job as assistant manager at the Sausalito sushi restaurant—formerly dubbed Sushi Gen—allowed Tome to stay in the country. In 1986 he bought out the owners and renamed his venture Sushi Ran. He says the mainstreaming of sushi in the years since he took the reins has steered him toward focusing the restaurant on a more authentically Japanese experience—some of the fish is straight from Tokyo’s Tsukiji Market.

Sushi Ran is currently ranked a ‘bib gourmand’ by the Michelin guide.

The restaurant’s reputation through the years has been enhanced by its consistently high-quality kitchen, itself a spawning ground for notable Bay Area sushi chefs. Among those who have spun off to their own restaurants are former longtime executive chef Scott Whitman, who in 2015 opened Village Saki in Fairfax, and former head sushi chef Takatoshi Toshi, who bought out Masa’s Sushi in Novato in 2018, now the town’s lone Michelin mention. Sushi Ran’s sushi blades are currently in the good hands of executive chef Takanori Wada.

As for sushi, we next sampled a selection of kitchen’s best sashimi ($54-$78), including red snapper, two kinds of tuna, king salmon and yellowtail, all reflecting what Michelin describes as an “exquisite selection of raw fish”; the Hamachi, for instance, carries a smooth, buttery texture that’s rarely found at other area sushi bars. The “hot selections” side of the menu is just as accomplished—the miso-glazed black cod ($42) is a melt-in-your-mouth local favorite, with its accompanying sauteed spinach an example of the locally sourced produce the restaurant champions. The crab cakes ($20), meanwhile, are prepared Japanese-style, baked in a sweet-and-sour sauce and served with fresh greens and grilled asparagus. Our meal rounded out with a miso cheesecake with mint leaf and toffee pieces, a welcomingly light top to a Michelin-worthy meal.

The place was still busy after 9 p.m. when we departed. This is when the Caledonia Street locals are at the bar—a sure sign of the consistency in quality and community Sushi Ran has fostered over the years.

Sushi Ran

107 Caledonia St., Sausalito


Open for lunch, Friday to Sunday, noon to 2:30 p.m.

Dinner, Sunday to Thursday, 5 to 9:30 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 5 to 10 p.m.

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