I’m so happy to have some positive news to report: owners Ryo Sakai and Cory Jackson of neighborhood favorite KUMA SUSHI + SAKE in Lower Polk are opening a second location, Kuma Valencia, in spring-summer of 2023. After opening their first location in August 2017, they have steadily built up a loyal clientele who know this is some of the best nigiri in town (spicy scallop, you have my heart forever). They also feature some incredible sakes (they pour by the glass or carafe, so you can try different sakes without committing to a whole bottle, and their list is always rotating). It’s also one of the friendliest sushi counters, with a fun, local vibe (it’s so good to back!).
They plan to keep all these elements intact in their new location, which will be right across the street from Zeitgeist on Valencia. They said to expect some neighborhood flair to appear on the menu, like names and dishes inspired by local industry pals and businesses (e.g. there’s a Jackalope roll on their Kuma Polk menu, named after the nearby bar).
They’re opening in a new condo that used to be a garage/smog station. They’re excited for the sunny corner exposure, and are working with Pablo Ortiz (Pop /A Design) on the design/architecture. The plan is to have 12 seats at the bar (same as Kuma Polk) and 12-16 seats at tables inside; outdoor is TBD. There will be stone, metal elements, and wood screens, with dynamic lighting (which is going to be given special attention in this location, allowing for better photos for guests and the chefs alike—they’re currently using black cutting boards for more appealing images). They’re working again with general contractor Conor Sweitzer of Sweitzer Inc., who did their original location.
There will also be some custom ceramics by Ryo’s wife, Linnan Ye of Neko.Co.Neko., like sake cups and chopstick rests (you may have noticed them at Kuma Polk). I’ll keep you posted on how the project is going. 198 Valencia St. at 13th St./Duboce.
Some of the stellar nigiri you’ll find at Kuma Sushi + Sake. Photo: © tablehopper.com.