We're not part of Yakko's normal clientele, but when we stayed around the corner for a couple of weeks we couldn't help but sample it not once, or twice, but more like five or six times for lunch and dinner. It was only by the last trip that we summoned enough courage to sit a the old-fashioned sushi bar and interact with Leon and his regulars, of which there seems to be many.
People queue up for Sushi Tomi all night on the other side of Castro, but I'm not sure what the difference is, except that one has a reputation and the other one seems happy to fly under the radar and remain a small family business where the chef's kid occasionally comes out to play and say hello (under supervision of course).
The overwhelming sense we had at Yakko's was a genuine welcome and a genuine pleasure at seeing people enjoy the food. This wasn't a slick operation where the service staff automatically expect a 20% tip without caring about your experience.
There was nothing to complain about with the food. Tasty, fresh, lots of variety, excellent sushi.
When we sat at the sushi bar Leon was more than happy to take on any exploratory request that came his way (but make sure to give him a budget or you'll be at the upper end of his sushi menu very quickly!) He has plenty of special items available off menu for his regulars as well, and expect a few quips from him as he works.
All up I can't believe Yakko's only has 14 TA reviews in the last few years and is languishing in the bottom third of MTV restaurants. Goodness knows I've eaten in my fair share of them! For a relaxed and intimate japanese experience we'll be heading back to Yakko's next time we're in town. I wonder if his regulars secretly either don't review, or keep the reviews modest in order not to spoil their local getaway :) If so, I'm sorry to spoil the party!