HELLO, fresh sashimi! (insert: Emoji with hearts eyes)
At Kusakabe, they only serve one menu.
The omakase menu.
So say “good- bye” to California rolls + Philly rolls + Rainbow rolls.
(If any of those are your “go-to” orders at a sushi restaurant, then this post isn’t for you)
That’s right. No gross rolls filled with cream cheese & mayo.
Zip, zilch, zero.
Up until recently, its been hard to find a decent sushi restaurant in San Francisco that does everything right– from service to quality to experience. And on that note, the newly opened Kusakabe just kills it in every way possible.
Acclaimed chef Mitsunori Kusakabe (Nori-san) has earned Michelin Stars year after year at Sushi Ran in Sausalito. This past May 2014, he finally opened Kusakabe- where he showcases his talents and techniques such as torching, smoking, and meticulous seasoning into every element of his omakase menu (chef’s choice menu $95).
Once seated (best seats at the bar), prepare yourself for an awesome 2hr experience where your sushi chef takes you on a culinary journey of “oooohhsss and ahhhhs.” (<– yeah that was deep lolz).
The chefs determine what they will prepare daily depending on the availability of ingredients and the season for certain types of fishes.
The nine- course menu begins with a cup of “welcoming tea” made with Kombu kelp- it’s delightful, sweet and savory. The tea is unlike anything I’ve ever tasted and helps to prep your palate for the rest of the meal.
Here is a recap of the night in pictures (1 tea, 7 pieces of nigiri, 4 pieces of sashimi, 1 soup, 5 petite plates)
The first to arrive is the Zuke Chutoro, a lightly seared- bluefin medium fatty tuna, cured in soy sauce.
Nigiri is traditionally eaten with your hands, and no soy sauce or wasabi is provided. Each piece of nigiri at Kusakabe is seasoned to perfection and topped with a sauce/seasoning that best highlights the fish.
Next, came the Hirame (halibut topped with liver)– It was the first time I’ve ever had it like that (with its own liver). I especially liked how they added the mint leaf below, which added a refreshing taste to the palate.
Next, came the smoked bonito (topped with daikon & ponzu) – one of my favorites of the night.
Our chef explained that the outside of the fish is infused with just enough smoke to give it that delicious smoky taste, while still allowing the interior to keep its natural flavor.
Kuddos to the chef for thinking outside the box.
Cue: “Ooooohs & Ahhhhhs”
Next, came a selection of Chef’s sashimi (Bluefin tuna + Hokkaido scallop) – 2 pieces each.
The sashimi slices are served on shaved ice to keep them at the proper temperature. It also came with a side of soy sauce + yuzu onion dipping sauce.
Side: do you guys see that blue cloth (upper middle right)? It’s pretty much a finger washing station to encourage people to use their hands for the nigiri (sushi + rice).
+ Duck miso soup with Mitsuba leaf
+ Italian black truffle miso soup with Eringi and Shimeji mushrooms
Between my BF and I, the obvious choice is to get both.
Side: If I had to choose again, it would be the black truffle every time. It was so delicious.
Next, came the Chef’s assorted petite plates.
The best thing was the oyster. A perfect Japanese Shigoku oyster topped with caviar. I could have gone for 5 more of these.
Next, came a BBQ unagi & matsutake croquette with hokkaido konbu & yoshino kuzu starch. It was deep fried with a crunchy outer layer. The insides easily broke apart when you dig in.
This was my least favorite dish of the night. While it was still good, the taste of Unagi was masked by the potatoes and mushrooms.
Next, came a Tenjo Buri (wild yellowtail). It was tender and delicate, and practically melted as soon as it hit my mouth.
Next, came the seasonal Kohada (Gizzard shad) a type of fish I’ve never had before. It was seasoned amazingly, and to my surprise, it wasn’t tough or chewy at all.
Ivory King (Alaskan white king salmon) This delicious piece of salmon is topped with oboro konbu & dill.
The sushi finale is your choice of Toro (bluefin fatty tuna) or Grade A5 Miyazaki Wagyu beef.
I obviously chose Toro, and I was not disappointed. The piece is so fatty, that it literally melted in a matter of seconds.
Only after the completion of all nine courses, the server hands you the a la carte menu. While I was completely stuffed, my BF still had room for more.
+ Kusakabe is one of the best omakase experiences I’ve ever had.
+ The quality of fish is also one of the best in San Francisco, however, their prices are on the more expensive end. After all, you are paying for location, experience and service.
+ To get the full experience you HAVE to sit at the bar. Why wouldn’t you?
+ It’s a great place for date night.
+ If you get the chance, I’d highly recommend checking them out before they get awarded a Michelin Star (Prices might go up, and reservations will be harder to get). Truusssttttt me on this one.