Chef Tokunori Mekaru of the new Sushi Hashiri in San Francisco.
To say I felt like a one percenter last week is to put it mildly.
It’s not everyday that I dine on a $300 three-hour kaiseki meal at a sushi bar, even if I was invited in as a guest of Sushi Hashiri, the new Japanese restaurant in San Francisco, two days before it officially opened to the public.
I realize few people will have the means — or even the inclination — to spend that princely sum at a sushi bar. Instead, we nonchalantly throw a $9 package of nigiri rolls into our cart at the supermarket, no matter if the rice has gotten a little hard and the seaweed too flabby. So accustomed are we to the run-of-the-mill stuff that we almost forget how transcendent sushi can be in the right hands.
Then along comes an establishment like Sushi Hashiri to remind us of that fact. It is the sister location to the smaller Hashiri that opened in Tokyo in 2012.
Chilled snap pea broth with ebi and sturgeon caviar.
Glistening silver shad nigiri.
The 42-seat restaurant, which includes a 10-seat sushi bar, is led by Executive Chef Takashi Saito, who helped open Ame in San Francisco; Chef Shinichi Aoki, late of Kaygetsu in Menlo Park; and Chef Tokunori Mekaru, who hails from Hashiri in Tokyo.
You’re Invited to #Foodtography
Join yours truly and award-winning photographer Craig Lee, when we host #Foodtography, 7 p.m. May 25 at the Four Seasons in San Francisco.
In this age of food-ecentric social media, this fun event will teach you how to be a better food critic and how to take better food photos.
You’ll get to sample gourmet tastes from the Four Seasons’ Chef Alexander La Motte — after you get a chance to photograph the dishes, of course.
At the end of the evening, you’ll take home a copy of “San Francisco Chef’s Table” (Lyons Press), my cookbook that was photographed by Craig. We’ll personally sign it to you, too.
The event is $35 per person. If you don’t take public transportation, and need to park your car, the hotel is offering a discounted valet rate of $15 that evening. RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org.
“A Taste of Le Cirque” in San Jose
San Jose’s Capital Club, normally open to members only, is opening its doors wide for a special event this Friday, May 13 that celebrates the fabled New York restaurant, Le Cirque.
“A Taste of Le Cirque” will feature Le Cirque’s corporate executive chef Massimo Bebber cooking a five-course dinner paired with Sicilian wines.
Pork shoulder at Little Gem.
Imagine a restaurant, in which all the food is gluten-free. And dairy-free. And sans refined sugar.
No doubt, you’re probably fearing it also will be flavor-free and dismally low in satisfaction.
Not so. Not when it’s Little Gem in San Francisco, which opened in December.
After all, when the head chef is Dave Cruz, formerly of Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc in Yountville, you’re guaranteed to be in good hands with the food, as I found out when I was invited in as a guest of the restaurant last week. Little Gem’s other partners are Eric Lilavois, former chief operating officer of the Thomas Keller Restaurant Group, and John DiFazio, an investment banker, who has such an appreciation of good food that he did an apprenticeship at Dan Barber’s Blue Hill at Stone Barns in New York.
Chef Dave Cruz, formerly of Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc.
The compact kitchen.
This is clean eating the way it should be — with bold flavors, freshness, finesse but not fussiness, and great ingredients from purveyors such as Marin Sun Farms, Five Dot Ranch and Rancho Gordo.
Say hello to the Scarlet & Gold at Oro.
San Francisco’s Mint Plaza has been a revolving door of restaurants over the years.
So many have come and gone that it’s hard to keep track of them all.
Here’s hoping Oro, which opened last year, has sticking power.
I think the downtown location, while an easy hop across the street from the Fifth & Mission garage, can be a hurdle. It’s hard for people to remember that behind the imposing ornate edifice of the historic Mint Building is indeed a plaza ringed by restaurants.
The three-story Oro presents a sleek veneer with floor-to-ceiling windows and a steel-cable glassed staircase that dominates the first floor.
The sleek staircase that bisects the main dining room.
The artsy dining nook.
The restaurant also has a lot going for it, most notably Executive Jason Fox of San Francisco’s marvelous Commonwealth restaurant.
When I was invited in as a guest of the restaurant recently, I started with a Scarlet & Gold ($13) cocktail served in a pretty retro glass. This is the perfect sip for those who want something delicate and not-so-boozy. With gin, fennel, lemon, soda and a froth of egg white, it was light and refreshing.
What makes the menu so fun is that you can make a meal out of a traditional appetizer and entree or several snacks and single bites if you’re more in a grazing mood.
Ribbons of Bohemian Creamery’s Capriago cheese cover the top of mushroom-pork ragout with grits at The Table.
Last week, San Jose’s The Table was transformed into the cheese table.
The popular Willow Glen neighborhood restaurant hosted its inaugural cheese dinner. This one spotlighted the cheeses of Bohemian Creamery of Sebastapol in a $75 seven-course dinner that included paired beverages. I was lucky enough to be invited in as a guest of the restaurant, which plans to make the cheese dinner an annual event.
Owner and cheesemaker Lisa Gottreich was on hand to talk about her hand-made cheeses, which are sold at retailers such as the Cheese Board in Berkeley and Sunshine Foods in St. Helena, and featured at restaurants such as Ad Hoc in Yountville, Chez Panisse in Berkeley, Nopa in San Francisco and SPQR in San Francisco.
Gottreich makes her 13 types of cheeses the Italian-way, with little salt. The goat cheeses are made with milk from her own herd of goats. The other types of milk that go into her cheeses are purchased from nearby farms.
In the far right, Chef-Owner Jim Stump greets cheesemaker Lisa Bottreich in the dining room of The Table.
The kitchen at work with Chef “AJ” Jmenez in the baseball cap.
The first course brought her Bodacious five-day-old goat cheese with a bloomy rind in a spring dish of asparagus and Oro Blanco grapefruit that was paired with Sikyo “Mirror of Truth” Takehara Junmai sake. What a great way to start with a creamy, tangy cheese and a floral, clean sake that worked well with the always tricky-to-pair asparagus.