Food Secrets of ICHI Sushi’s Tim and Erin Archuleta

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Tim and Erin Archuleta. Photo Credit: Rebecca Hinsdale
Tim and Erin Archuleta. Photo Credit: Rebecca Hinsdale

Tim & Erin Archuleta are the co-founders & owners of ICHI Catering, ICHI Lucky Cat Deli, and ICHI Sushi. Tim is the ICHI Executive Chef and spent the past 13 years honing his skills behind the sushi bars of some of the most bustling, popular sushi and Asian-fusion restaurants in Northern California, including Tokyo Go Go in San Francisco and Sushi on the River in Sacramento.

He has worked as a sous chef, kitchen manager, and restaurant manager before stepping out in 2006 to form ICHI Catering. April of 2010 marked the opening of ICHI’s first retail location, ICHI Lucky Cat Deli in Bernal Heights, at 331 Cortland. In September 2010, the Archuletas opened the doors to their first restaurant and sushi bar, ICHI Sushi. ICHI has won Best of the Bay recognition by the SF Bay Guardian, SF Weekly, and’s Bay List.

In addition to helping launch the ICHI businesses, Erin writes for and is the Director of Field Operations and Strategy for the literacy nonprofit 826 National. The Everett Middle School community honored Erin with two César Chávez Peace Awards for her service in the 826 Valencia Writers’ Room. In addition, she was part of the team who won a Moonbeam Spirit Child Wellness Award for Children’s Literature with Wallenberg Traditional High School, and was recently a nominee for the Women’s Initiative for Self Employment (W.I.S.E.) 2010 Woman Entrepreneur of the Year.



The couple said: “We’ll be forever grateful to The KnockOut, Bender’s, MR. (R.I.P), Swig, ProjectOne, and 111 Minna for hosting our ICHI Sushi Happy Hours. The KnockOut gave us our start and the family who owns that place is tops! We’re still serving up sushi every Monday night at Bender’s and we love our Mission neighbors crew! Many of the gang there have been at Tim’s sushi bar either at Tokyo GoGo or at other happy hours, for years. We’re lucky to have such a great bar staff there, and love Cassie’s cocktails. Watch out— they’re pint-sized!”

The Archuletas live at the bottom of the Bernal Heights hill, near ICHI Sushi. Tim is from Sacramento and Erin is from Flint, Michigan. Flint is the capital of Coney Island hot dogs (which have nothing to do with Coney Island, they’re a loose meat hot dog combo.)


“We’re Bernal Heights folks, and we’re so spoiled to have great eats in the area. We are lucky to have such good business-mates at 331 Cortland and love (equally) El Porteño’s Champiñones Empanadas, Paulie’s Pickling’s Chopped Liver, and Dezy’s handmade Nettle Refreshers. We use SpiceHound’s salts at ICHI Sushi, and call on Josh at Bernal Cutlery for knife know-how. Many of the 331 Cortland gang catch a nightcap together from time-to-time at Wild Side West .”


“When we need inspiration, we hop on over to Noe Valley’s Omnivore Books for the latest Canal House or another treasure.”


“Our favorite dinners out on nights off in the neighborhood are at husband-wife owned La Ciccia (Oh God, the tripe and that massive wine list!), The Blue Plate where some cool progressive American dishes are happening (be sure to try the unique take on chicken thighs) by one of our dearest friends Chef de Cuisine Sean Thomas, and grabbing a cocktail next door with a big ‘ol meatball sub and perfectly homemade fries by our buddy Barry at Emmy’s Spaghetti Shack. We have a big brunch crush on The Front Porch and are regulars.

When we get out of the neighborhood for a dinner or a drink, we like to try things all over the map. Recently, we had Christmas Eve Dinner at Prospect by Chef Ravi Kapur, and it was phenomenal. We’re still dreaming of the warm bourbon apple ciders, and the best foie gras we’ve had—ever, anywhere.

Our favorite dim sum, (great for counteracting a Saturday night when Tim’s customers may have gifted him with hearty sake pours one after another), is at Hong Kong Seafood Restaurant at 33rd and Noriega. This place is no frills. But, it’s got everything you want in a good dim sum experience — pork, seafood, hearty soups, and strong green tea.

For sushi, (and we love to go out for sushi), we frequent Koo in the Inner Sunset, Oyaji in the Outer Richmond, and Kiss Seafood just off Japantown. Behind the bar at Koo is Tim’s mentor, Kiyoshi Hiyakawa, who is always on the lookout for the best fish and seasonal Japanese omakase. Oyaji is a father-son team with a slender sushi bar (wait for a seat at the bar, it’s worth it). After you’re super-full from the grilled pork belly, or even too much of a good thing with sashimi, you can stumble next door to an old-school San Francisco Bar, The Tee Off Bar & Grill for a shot of Fernet.

Comstock Saloon has such great cocktails. We love to take out-of-towners there for the romantic (and even a little scandalous) history of the place. There’s nothing quite like the Barbary Coast to get a tour of the Painted Ladies off your guests’ 8:30 AM itinerary.

We’re both dying to try Benu, and just need a night off together to get there. Same for Aziza . Shamefully, we haven’t been there, either. With build-out after build-out under our belts for the last couple of years, we’ve specialized in lunch, with favorites like Hard Knox Café in the Dogpatch, and Kitchenette. We’re happy to welcome new neighbors to Bayview, near our catering kitchen, and are eager to try Smokin’ Warehouse Barbecue. That will make sitting out front waiting for the traffic headed to Candlestick a bit easier to take.”


“We tend to have date lunches, because Tim is usually behind the sushi bar at night. Tim’s favorite burger is the Turkey Burger at Big Mouth on 24th Street. In Berkeley, we recently had a phenomenal lunch at Sea Salt. Our next date night will be at Commis in Oakland. We’re excited to try James Syhabout’s menu and our friend Carlos Salgado’s pastry dishes.

When we get the occasional evening to ourselves, a fantastic cocktail and meaty charcuterie is waiting at Beretta. And, we went to Hog and Rocks and had a wonderful time over oysters, ham, and frothy whisky sours for our anniversary. The photos on the wall there are reminiscent of the old Playboy Gourmet cookbook.”


“Old Italian men in suits! We love Joe's of Westlake. Erin used to work at an assisted living community in the Sunset when she first moved to San Francisco, and the waiters all made the women stepping off her bus feel like the Queens of Spain; taking their coats, telling them how beautiful they were. You better believe she takes all my visiting older Aunties there. Same for Marcello’s in the Parkside: what an old-school San Francisco treat. Men in goldenrod tuxedos are not to be ignored.”



The couple said: "We met six years ago at a karaoke birthday party. It was Tim’s rendition of 'Total Eclipse of the Heart' (complete with dance moves), that won Erin’s heart. We married in the Presidio in 2008 and had our reception at the historic Regency Center in the Lodge. Dear chef friends of ours, Freedom Rains (of Flour + Water), and Nana Guardia (at Prospect) produced the best meals our families could have ever dreamt about. Another one of our closest friends Derek McCarthy (Presidio Social Club) cooked our rehearsal dinner. Erin’s Mom still boasts to her co-workers about ‘the pork.’ We will be forever grateful to all of them. Some may think it would be tough to work with your spouse, but building ICHI together has truly strengthened our marriage, our ties to our community, and our senses of humor.”