I like my sushi like I like my men. Refined, fresh and honest. Save the bacon wrapped crunchy roll drowning in spicy mayo and eel sauce for the “all you can eat” joint down the street. I have a major restaurant crush on Wayo Sushi, the tiny 16 seater on Van Ness. It’s like the kind of crush you develop after your friend reminds you to not “judge a book by it’s cover.” Personality and substance always prevails. Ok, enough hokey analogies. Wayo is the perfect unpretentious package.
We stepped out of the busy, late night hustle of Van Ness into Wayo’s tiny, brightly lit room. One open room, with a horseshoe bar in the center and a minuscule kitchen in the back, that’s it. A sushi chef and the server/line-cook/hostess work hard every night and seem to be Wayo’s only employees. My guess is they are the owners, perhaps husband and wife, who take care of Wayo as if it were their own dining room. Inside the restaurant, every seat, all 16 of them, is occupied but you seldom see many people waiting. This is because many first timers are turned off by the common greeting from the friendly server, “one-hour wait for sushi.” Many people gawk, leave and let the door slam behind them. Wayo is full (as usual) and will be full until they flip their closed sign in the front window. The chef and the server move furiously all evening, yet a general calmness can be felt through the restaurant. They work like a well-oiled machine and communication between the two is short, always efficient.
I love snagging a spot at the bar, right in front of the chef. He seldom looks up from his busy hands, but sometimes will flash us an appreciative smile. We ordered our usual; Hamachi sashimi, kappa maki, tekka maki, mackerel nigiri and then asked him to include a few pieces of whatever was fresh. We settled in with our green tea and miso soup for the long wait. We are always conscious of giving ourselves a good chunck of time for dinner at Wayo. It’s just how the restaurant works and I love it.
Moral of the story? Stop being so shallow. If you like good sushi without an artificial ambiance, give Wayo a try. You may fall in love with it, just like me. It’s the perfect spot to catch up with old friends – plenty of time for conversation – and good, honest sushi.