Kusakabe – FiDi, San Francisco

Kusakabe

584 Washington Street
kusakabe-sf.com

Kusakabe is an omakase only, kaiseki restaurant with a focus on edomae style sushi.  Said in plain English, a Japanese course menu designed with seasonal ingredients centered around traditionally prepared sushi.   Kusakabe falls into the same market as other newish Japanese restaurants such as Maruya and Saru among others we have yet to explore.

Kusakabe is tucked in front of the pyramid building on the edge of the financial district, a quite area on a Saturday afternoon.   A wood sign hangs over the entrance with a green fabric emblazoned with logo hides the door.

kusakabe_sign2

kusakabe_cloth

The incredibly long, wood sushi bar is an impressive sight and impossible to miss as you walk in the room.  The long wood bar contrasts nicely with the exposed red brick wall on the opposite side.

The menu at Kusakbe is simple.  For 95$ a person, you get an eight course meal.  Most of the decisions are made by the chef however we did have to select a miso soup (either duck meatball or black truffle) and the grand finale (otoro or A5 wagyu).  Following the omakase portion, Kusakabe offers up an ala cart sushi menu with prices that range from 7-12$ per piece.

We were dining with our friends Luke and Yukari and kicked the meal off with a bottle of Tamakawa Kinsho “Gold Medal” daiginjo sake.

kusakabe_tamakawa_kinsho_sake

Omakase

The omakase kicks off with a welcome tea, a coupe of sips of kelp konbu cha.  A salty palate cleanser.

Sushi Prelude

The first of the food courses was a trio of sushi.  All are prepared and seasoned by the chef as intended to be eaten, no soy sauce needed.

Zuke Chutoro – lightly seared medium fatty blue fin tuna cured in soy sauce

kusakabe_zuke_chutoro2 kusakabe_zuke_chutoro1

Hirame – ikejime halibut topped with its own liver

kusakabe_halibut1

Bonito

kusakabe_bonito1

An enjoyable start to the meal.  The flavors of the fish, sauce/seasoning and rice were a nice balance.  The wasabi kick on the end was a sharp burst.

Sashimi

Chutoro blue fin tuna and a scallop, served over shaved ice with fresh wasabi and yuzu onion sauce

kusakabe_sashimi2The scallop was nice but overall I would rank this lower on my list of favorite dishes.   This could have partially been my own doing, as this course does come with some DIY sauces for dipping.

Soup

Kamo-Dango – duck miso soup with Mitsuba leaf

kusakabe_duck_miso

As a big fan of simple miso soups, this was a nice treat.  The duck flavor blended smoothly with the miso soup and the meatball was a nice change of pace.  Minako ordered the truffle miso soup and we decided that either is a good choice and were glad we could share.

Chef’s Assorted Le Petite Plates

The next course was five bite sized offerings.

kusakabe_small_plates

First – a diced and seasoned tomato

kusakabe_tomato

Next, a cube of rice topped with crab

kusakabe_crab

After that, an oyster topped with some caviar

kusakabe_oyster

Followed by some cured king salmon roe over rice

kusakabe_ikura

Closed out with a terrible picture of what is supposed to be a shrimp topped with what looks like but isn’t actually an egg

kusakabe_shrimp

Warm Dish

BBQ Unagi and Matsutake Croquette with Hokkaido konbu dashi and yoshino kuzu starch

kusakabe_croquette

This ball of delicious was stuffed with a creamy mushroom explosion.  The unagi was very subtle.

Sushi Chic

The second sushi course brought along another three pieces.

Tenjo Buri – Hokkaido wild yellowtail

kusakabe_buri1

Sanma – Pacific Mackerel

kusakabe_sanma2

kusakabe_sanma kusakabe_sanma3

Ivory King Salmon – Alaskan white king salmon with oboro konbu and dill

kusakabe_ivory_king_salmon

Sushi Finale

Choice between otoro and A5 wagyu.  Eventually we got both.

Toro – bluefin fatty tuna belly

kusakabe_otoro

Wagyu – A5 grade Miyazaki wagyu strip loin

kusakabe_wagyu

Ala Carte Sushi

Mostly satisfied, we decided to top the meal off with some additional sushi pieces.

Kamasu – Japanese barracude

kusakabe_kamasu1 kusakabe_kamasu2

 

Shirayaki – Fresh BBQ white eel with sansho pepper

kusakabe_shirayaki

 

Uni – Santa Barbara

kusakabe_uni

Kaisui Uni – deep ocean Hokkaido

kusakabe_kaisui_uni1

Prior to this “vertical” uni tasting Luke mentioned he preferred Santa Barbara uni compared to Hokkaido.  He doesn’t say that anymore.

Dessert

Chestnut Creme Brûlée

kusakabe_dessert

Kusakabe is another strong entrant in the blossoming San Francisco Japanese dining scene.  While the starting price point of $95 is not overly exuberant,  I would find it difficult to walk out without adding some ala carte supplements to the end of the meal.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *