Kusakabe is a fairly new restaurant in the financial district of San Francisco at 584 Washington St. It opened its doors on June 16, 2014 and is owned and operated by sushi chef Mitsunori Kusakabe, the former sushi chef infamous sushi restaurant Sushi Ran in Sausalito. Kusakabe gained a Michelin Star in 2015 and surely is a remarkable sushi restaurant by any standard.
“Welcome to KUSAKABE, it is always my pleasure to serve our guests. At KUSAKABE, we serve a multi-course sushi dinner that is based on the principle of Japanese “Kaiseki” cuisine. When I create my Omakase menu, it is my challenge to include a variety of seafood presented with creativity and offering a harmony of fresh flavors with every bite. Please join me and our capable staff at KUSAKABE for what we hope is an unforgettable dining experience.”
Kusakabe only offers omakase style set menus starting at $98 and allows additional orders a la carte only after the omakase menu has been served. The 7 piece menu tends to include a soup, sushi, sashimi and selected special plates with oysters or caviar. If that’s not enough, one can always go for the 10 piece set menu for $168. The a la cart menu offers some amazing highlights as well such as Toro (Low temperature aging Bluefin fatty tuna belly), Zuke Chutoro (Soy sauce cured bluefin medium fatty tuna), Negitoro (Fatty tuna with micro onion & roasted “Nori” temaki), Wagyu (A5 grade Miyazaki Wagyu strip loin), Aori Ika (Low temperature aging big fin reef squid) and many others. All of those might or might not have been part of the set menu of the day. Paring wine is offered at $125 or one can choose from the limited beer but decent wine or commendable sake selection.
During the dinner I was served an amazing zuke chu toro (sustainable bluefin medium fatty tuna) sashimi as a starter, followed by a soup and some salmon sushi rolls. It got more interesting after that with some delicious nigiri dishes. I was served hirame (halibut), ebi (prawn), uni (sea urchin) and some wagyu (A5 grad moyazaki wagyu strip loin) as the finale of the 7 course set menu. I ordered additional dishes from the a la cart menu. I tried aji (wild-caught horse mackerel) nigiri which I enjoyed very much. After that I was blown away but a chu toro (sustainable medium fatty bluefin tuna cured in soy sauce) nigiri and an even more amazing toro (sustainable bluefin fatty tuna belly) nigiri. Luckily, I took some pictures.
Some information about my Kusakabe visit can be found at moritzrecke.com
Sushi Guide Verdict
The setting of the restaurant is a rather modern mix of raw brick walls and lots of bamboo elements and might seem a little cold or steril at times. Although the omakase style set menu offers a good variety of choices, it might not be perfect for sushi aficionados who really know what they want. It is not allowed to alter any menu items which leads to a rather low rating for the menu, although technically the a la carte menu offers a great selection of fish. The food quality it self is amazing and definitely one of the best around. Every fish had an intense and differentiating taste and everything was served very traditionally without any fancy mayonnaise sauces that are so common in California. The drink menu was very well composed, although one might consider the pairing wine option to be a little on the pricy side compared to the regular menu. Considering the overall cost for a dinner at Kusakabe however, this might be a neglectable notion. The service was outstanding with nothing to complain about. Some of the personal also worked at Sushi Ran before, giving the visit at Kusakabe a somewhat familiar touch.
Review date: June 3, 2014