How common are “Godzilla rolls” on a Japanese restaurant menu? I plan to find out, searching across San Francisco for any and all Godzilla food items in restaurants. I’ll be excluding Godzila Sushi, which is really a mecca to the character and fully deserved its own article. As expected, these will be unlicensed items from these establishments. For each I will talk about the restaurant, the food item and anything else of note. Luckily there isn’t a “Godzilla roll archetype”, the same way there is for a “California roll” or a “Philadelphia roll”, so it should be a new experience each time.
May 19th, 2019 – Found inside Japan Town, a decent place in itself to pick up some occasional Toho merchandise, comes Kushi Tsuru. This establishment is nestled right among the restaurant row inside the mall, with a ton of options to choose from for food. Despite the direct competition, as there are a lot of restaurants all close to each other that serve Japanese food, the places tend to be moderately busy on the weekends. Unfortunately, Kushi Tsuru is on the pricer side but also the only restaurant, at the time of writing this, that features a Godzilla roll in Japan Town.
At $13.25, this Godzilla roll isn’t a cheap option. It does, though, offer a lot of seafood in the form of generous pieces of fish chopped and placed on top. The selection of fish range from tuna, white tuna and salmon while a stray, large piece of avocado will also be present. Inside the roll one finds cucumber and shrimp, which has been fried tempura style. The rice on the roll is abnormally hard, although despite this the rolls will sometimes fall apart, the fate of two of mine. As for the overall taste, it’s on the mild side, but will likely appeal to seafood lovers with deeper pockets.
Kiki Japanese Restaurant
April 26th, 2019 – Referred to locally as Kiki’s by some, and at one time was called Kiki Teriyaki Sushi before a minor name change, this 1269 9th Ave establishment strikes a balance between “hole in the wall” and family restaurant. The crooked doors and windows allow the place to stand out, while the interior, for many years, felt lackluster. They recently, though, did a remodel that greatly helped the place look a little more upscale
Now a couple things to note here. First is that the place gets its name from Hayao Miyazaki‘s 1989 movie Kiki’s Delivery Service, which was released by Toei. This inspiration is obvious inside, with a lot of official artwork hanged from Miyazaki’s movies. Oddly, though, these are three movies featured heavily:
One will notice that they aren’t heavily promoting the movie which it gets its namesake, which is odd, but also that none of the recent movies are promoted. The reason for the latter, though, is the age of the place. I’m not sure the exact age, but it does predate 2005, meaning that Howl’s Moving Castle (2004) likely wasn’t even out yet.
Anyway onto the Godzilla roll. Priced at $6.75, it’s described on the menu as:
Spicy tuna tempura topped with house special wasabi sauce
The dish has some positives, like the tuna has an excellent aftertaste. The roll itself is also warm when received, which I enjoyed, and the tempura batter is on the lighter side. However… you have to like wasabi to enjoy this, and that’s likely going to cater to a very small audience. The reason is the “special wasabi sauce”, which is like a mayo mixed with wasabi. Sadly, the wasabi taste is very overpowering, masking much of the rest of the flavor. Consequently, only recommended to those who like wasabi. Also mark this as roll #2 with a mixture of red and green in the roll.
Sakesan Sushi & Bistro
April 21st, 2019 – Located on 626 Clement Street, one finds this fairly nice establishment. Seating inside is a mixture, with an area dedicated for taking off your shoes and sitting around a small table. Alternatively, you can sit at a high table with your shoes on. Like many Japanese restaurants, this place features an open kitchen area. As the name might imply, there is a strong emphasis on drinks at this place. It has a nice long menu, and does serve some good sake.
Now this place also has a happy hour that runs from 4pm to 6pm each day. That’s probably inconvenient on the weekdays, but can work out on the weekends. As a bonus, the happy hour menu includes an item called the “Godzilla Roll”. Priced at $8 on the regular menu, the item is $6 on this menu.
It’s described as a:
Fried salmon roll with green onion & spicy sauce on top
(regular menu uses the word tempura instead of fried)
The regular menu mentions it takes about 20-25 minutes to prepare, due to frying, although the happy hour menu fails to note the waiting time. Appearance wise, it looks good. There is a mixture of teriyaki sauce and a very mild sriracha-like sauce poured on top. There is a healthy dose of green onions as well, giving it a nice, diverse array of colors. Not sure the red and greens are what inspired the Godzilla name or not, but it looks appetizing. In terms of taste, the salmon flavor is very strong through out. Now one of my general complaints with fried sushi is it gets to be too heavy tasting, although this dish escapes that. The batter is on the lighter side, so while it is fried it’s not overpowering. All in all, there are better sushi items on the menu, but this one is appealing.