I love sushi. I don’t know how to put into words my constant desire for sushi. Growing up in Taiwan and spending every Christmas in Japan has also made me a bougie sushi snob. Last night a particularly strong craving hit, so I texted one of my best friends to see if she wanted to try Kusakabe with me. Kusakabe is a famous sushi restaurant in San Francisco, and held one Michelin star back in both 2015 & 2016. We spontaneously booked dinner for tonight (thank goodness for sushi loving friends!).
Kusakabe has a traditional Japanese, minimal decor. When we first sat down the waitress immediately served some warm dashi in a small cup to start. She also placed wet finger towels next to us, as they prefer to have you pick up sushi with fingers. There’s two menus to choose from: the $95 omakase with 19 items, or the $150 grand omakase with 25 items. We decided to treat ourselves and went with the grand omakase.
We started with the sushi prelude:
I knew this would be an amazing meal after these five nigiris. Everything was so fresh and high quality, unlike some other high-end sushi restaurants in San Francisco that can be inconsistent.
We were then served the sashimi plate, consisting of tea braised octopus with charcoal mustard, kanpachi (amberjack), monkfish liver with yuzu jelly wrapped in Thai snapper, and maguro (tuna). This plate came with 2 dipping sauces: grated onion with yuzu and traditional soy sauce with wasabi. There’s two pieces of each selection so you can try both sauce pairings. I personally like sticking to the classic soy sauce and wasabi combo.
Next came one of my favorite courses in the meal, the Hassun. A classic Kaiseiki dish, this was beautifully arranged with (clockwise from glass bowl): abalone, lobster sashimi, egg with char and wasabi, snow crab with rice cracker, box sushi with tuna, lightly fried lemon fish, cod milt from Hokkaido and Kumamoto oyster with caviar. Everything was DELICIOUS. What really impressed me was the detailed presentation of the dish, much like something you would actually be served in Japan.
The tomago tofu soup that came next has a clear broth base and is very light:
I was quite excited to end the meal with a train of sushi. Everything was again consistently fresh and well balanced in terms of seasoning and pairings. My favorite was the kaisui uni from Hokkaido which was sooooo creamy and sweet. It was a tough act to follow so the eel that came after tasted a bit dry to me. I chose to finish my omakase with buttery toro, or you can also choose to have the A5 Wagyu sushi.
When the omakase ended we were handed another menu for supplements. Prices range from $6-15 per piece, but the omakase course was already plenty for me and I was too full to order anything else.
Kusakabe is hands down the best sushi restaurant I’ve been to in California (I’ve tried many in LA & SF, including places like Urasawa and Ju-ni). Service here was impeccable. I was glad we got seats at the sushi bar and were able to chat with our chef about the different types of sushi and where they source fish from. My friend and I both love rice, and were oogling as one of the chefs mixed vinger into freshly cooked rice for the next round of customers. We sheepishly asked if the rice they’re using is purchasable in the Bay area, and the jovial chef answered “yes… at Kusakabe!”
The first thing I did after leaving the restaurant was to go online and make another reservation. So yes, I will definitely be back at Kusakabe again!
Address: 584 Washington St, San Francisco, CA 94111
Tel: (415) 757-0155