Omakase is a traditional Tokyo Edomae-style sushi bar that just opened up a few weeks ago in San Francisco's SoMa neighborhood with only 14 seats available, featuring three chef's choice menu options priced at $100, $150, and $200. The menu focuses on high quality fish and Japanese delicacies, many of which are flown in three times a week from Tokyo's Tsukiji Fish Market.
The restaurant is opened by restaurateur Kash Feng (Live Sushi Bar, Live Sushi Mission, Live Sushi Bistro and Origami Market Restaurant) and the team of chefs at Omakase is headed up by Jackson Yu .
Patrick and I were invited to be guests of the restaurant to check out the $150 omakase experience, which turned out to be one of the best dining experiences we've had. There's something really unique and intimate about sitting in front of the chef making your food and interacting with them. It was like having a delicious educational sushi lesson.
Chef Jackson Yu has been preparing Japanese cuisine since he was a teenager and has trained with well-known Japanese chefs. From premier restaurants in the Bay Area to Ginza in Japan, he has become known for his impeccable knife skills.
Working with Chef Yu to ensure that the entirety of the Omakase dining experience is a good one are chefs Ingi Son (pictured above), with 17 years of experience at restaurants from New York to Las Vegas and Napa, and Yoshihito Yoshimoto, a native of Osaka who has been in the restaurant business for 37 years at venues from coast to coast including Hawaii.
The $150 Omakase Experience
We were both served an identical menu with a total of 24 different items, all of which were seasonal.
Before service, rice is made fresh to prevent it from being cold. The texture and seasoning is perfect. For those who are picky with the amount of rice served with nigiri, the chefs cater to the individuals preferences.
Nishida "Kikuizumi" ($23 Carafe)
The house-chosen sake was an excellent choice that paired well with all the dishes we had. It has a nice and fruity arrival and leaves a clean finish. There's almost a bubblegum-like flavor during the inhale. It's served in a pewter decanter to remove the bitterness of sake. They have an impressive selection of sake that will please anyone's palette.
The first course was a lovely seafood salad with the sweetest lobster and crab meat, along with beautiful herring roe (that's easy to miss) that was pearl-like in color, all mixed with sea grapes and young radishes and tossed in a bright yuzu pepper dressing.
Copper River Salmon
The copper river salmon comes from Alaska and is an excellent fish that can only be enjoyed from mid-May to June. It's a firm fish that is high in fat content, which gives it a rich and nutty flavor.
The nanbanzuke is a traditional Japanese dish with Portugese and Dutch influences, related to escabeche. Omakase's version consists of a fried white fish, marinated in a mixture of dashi, soy sauce and vinegar served over eggplants.
Sazae/Turban Shell Sea Conch with 24k Gold
There's a lot of flavor in this Japanese turban shell sea conch dressed in its own liver that's cooked in sake. The conch meat itself has a crunchy chew and the slightly bitter liver sauce brings out the wonderful flavors of the sea, almost like an abalone.
The flying fish has a low percentage of fat, so it's lean and light in flavor.
Kuromaguro/Blue Fin Tuna
Blue fin tunas are one of the most prestigious delicacies in Japan. This one comes from Spain and tastes almost like a rare filet mignon. It's like biting into a tender muscle. Incredible!
Shima-Aji/Yellow Stripe Jack
The yellow stripe jack fish is named as such due to its yellow stripe in the middle of its body. It's the most expensive in the jack fish family. The fish tastes smooth and rich, is clear in color and glossy on the surface. It doesn't taste like it would be from the jack fish family, except it does resemble hamachi (which one of my readers, Jeff Croci, points out that hamachi is a part of the jack fish family). The difference between the two is in the finish; hamachi has a slightly fishy profile, whereas the shima-aji has a sweet note. The flesh is nice, firm to bite and resembles a leaner toro.
The kasugo nigiri is outstanding - a young sea bream that's slightly chewy and rich, almost like a fish pate.
The light sear on the sardine helps to bring out the flavors of this soft, oily and rich fish. The grated ginger and daikon are garnished on top to neutralize the oils.
Ibodai is a deep sea fish that eats crustaceans and jellyfish. It's has a distinctive, yet clean and delicate flavor. The texture of the meat is firm with a nice chew to it. Omakase garnishes the fish with a bit of grated wasabi and ginger.
Due to the fishy characteristics and quick spoiling of saba, the fish is enjoyed cured in salt. A thin layer of ginger is garnished on top to help mute the overpowering aftertaste. It was moist, flavorful and rich.
Grilled Miso Black Cod with Young Pickled Ginger
The miso black cod has rich, savory and sweet characteristics. The skin is the best part - a little fatty with a lovely char that brings out a nice bitterness that goes extremely well with the flavorful miso and young pickled ginger.
The clam meat was slapped and served live. This Alaskan creature was still slowly moving as I took this photo. The texture is crunchy and has a sweet, slightly briny flavor. It really is one hell of a sweet ass clam.
The kohada is a shiny fish that's cured in vinegar and salt. The flavor is strong with a medium level of oil content, giving it a fishier funk with a flaky texture.
Aged Kobe Wagyu Beef
The marbling on the aged kobe wagyu beef is magnificent. The beef comes from Japan and is served cold. There's a steak-like quality to it and the fat melts in your mouth wonderfully as you chew the meat.
Omakase's ankimo is exceptional and one of the true stars of the dining experience. I haven't had anything like it before. It's like foie gras from the clean sea - creamy, smooth and rich. Unlike most restaurants that steam their ankimo to the point where it's dried up, Omakase uses a secret method where they cook it in an ankimo sauce to preserve all the flavors. I would go back to Omakase just for this alone!
Hokkaido Uni with Cured Ikura and Daikon
The bright and colorful orange uni from Hokkaido is truly something special. The roe has a wonderful sweetness that's fresh and creamy without a seafood taste. It pairs extremely well with the cured ikura, which pops nicely in my mouth, releasing sweet soy and briny characteristrics. The uni, ikura, daikon and shiso is served over seasoned rice.
Kinmedai/Golden Eye Snapper
The golden eye snapper lives in the deep sea and is a white fish that only eats shrimp, which is why the fish has beautiful golden and rose colored skin. It's truly one of the most amazing fish I've eaten - incredibly tender, rich and buttery.
I am always excited for fatty toro and this one melts in your mouth like butter, as expected, yet still has a subtle lightness to it.
Arrived from Tokyo, the anago is a saltwater eel that resides in sandy, muddy bottoms of the sea. It's considered to be the second best sea eel and has a very soft texture. It tastes sweet, yet savory and delicate enough to melt in your mouth.
While many restaurants often serve eel with a bottled sweet sauce, it takes Omakase 5 hours to make and reduce a sauce using eel bones.
Asari Miso Shiru/Miso Soup with Manilla Clams
Omakase's wonderfully fragrant miso soup is served hot and is full of deep, hearty flavors. The manilla clams bring in briny characteristics to the traditional broth.
We conclude our dinner with a buttery toro maki that's mixed with wasabi, soy sauce and salt. Chef Jackson says that the omakase experience should always end with maki as a way to ensure that guests leave full and satisfied. At this point, we were very, happily stuffed.
Omakase is new and hasn't been discovered yet by many people, which makes now a fantastic time to go and check it out before reservations fill up at this intimate 14-seat sushi bar.
While the food looks simple, the variety of fresh fish, flavors and textures are perfect, which is what makes this place brilliant. We look forward to visiting again to try the $200 omakase experience.
A huge thank you to Omakase and Chef Jackson Yu for inviting us as their guests and taking us on one of the most memorable sushi dining experiences we've had.
Note: If you haven't been to this area for a while, you may not be aware that there's construction of huge apartment complexes that is expected to be complete within the next three years. More reason to check this place out sooner rather than later.
665 Townsend St, San Francisco, CA 94107
Mon-Sat 5:00-9:00pm, Last seating at 9:00pm
There are only 14 seats available. Call for reservations.