Chef Justin Yu behind the bar at Omakase.
Chef Jackson Yu hails from Beijing. As such, he knows how to cook Chinese food. But he decided long ago to ply his skills in a much different cuisine: sushi.
“I like to do Japanese food,” he explains. “It’s more of an art.”
Indeed it is, especially at his two-month-old Omakase in San Francisco’s South of Market neighborhood, not far from AT&T Park.
The restaurant’s name refers to the Japanese phrase “to entrust yourself to the chef,” meaning, just sit back and allow the chef to feed you whatever he/she deems is best that day.
At Omakase, you are definitely in fine hands when you do that, as I found out when I was invited in as a guest of the restaurant recently.
You enter into a small foyer. On the right is Origami Market (set to open this week). Just like Omakase, it’s owned by restaurateur Kash Feng, who started up Live Sushi Bar in San Francisco. It will feature more casual fare such as poke, steamed dumplings and noodle bowls — all highlighting local, organic and sustainable when possible.
Chef Ingi Son preps fish just as the first diners sit down for the evening.
Chef Yu forming nigiri.
Adding a smoky touch before serving.
But you are there for Omakase, so you are are escorted to the sushi bar on the left side, which is all of 14 seats. Behind the bar is Yu, who trained in the Bay Area and in Ginza, Japan; along with two other sushi chefs, Ingi Son, who has worked in Japanese restaurants from New York to Las Vegas to Napa; and Yoshihito Yoshimoto, a native of Osaka with more than 37 years of restaurant experience.