I’m always on the hunt for great restaurants especially whenever I’m back in the Bay Area. Over this past summer, I kept reading reviews about KEIKO à Nob Hill, a one Michelin star restaurant located in the Nob Hill area of San Francisco. What interested me the most about KEIKO à Nob Hill was that the restaurant served modern Japanese cuisine with French influences.
The chef, Keiko Takahashi, beautifully combines Japanese ingredients and flavors with classic French techniques creating stunning refined food. The restaurant only offers one prix fixe nightly menu consisting of twelve courses and only one sitting per night. Therefore, everyone arrives at the restaurant at the same time and enjoys the tasting menu together. Since KEIKO à Nob Hill is a small intimate restaurant, I kindly requested in advance to sit somewhere slightly away from other guests to not disturb them with my camera flash (they normally don’t allow cameras with flash). When I arrived at the restaurant, they had a special surprise for us…our own personal dining room! Oh yeah! I was beyond thrilled and extremely grateful for their accommodation.
Having our own dining room definitely set the mood for a romantic night since after all it was Tommaso’s last dinner in California before he returned to Rome.
KEIKO à Nob Hill served elegant Japanese food but certainly with a French approach. The tasting menu consisted of numerous top notch Japanese ingredients such as Hokkaido uni (sea urchin), sakuramasu (cherry trout), tairagai (razor clam), zuwaigani (snow crab), medai (wild butterfish), and A5 Wagyu beef. With these spectacular ingredients, chef Keiko Takahashi creates dishes with clean, subtle, and delicate Japanese flavors with a touch of French flair.
I thoroughly enjoyed every dish off the tasting menu but some of my favorite dishes were the caviar and uni, sakuramasu, Maine lobster, Muscovy duck, A5 Wagyu beef, cheese course, and the strawberry parfait dessert.
First, the dinner started off with a bang. Two words: caviar and uni. Looks like uni is the new “bacon” because it is literally on every menu at every hot restaurant right now. Light fluffy blinis (mini pancakes) served with sweet, creamy, luscious uni (sea urchin), umami dashi gelée (made from kombu, kelp, and katsuobushi, dried bonito flakes), and topped with briny salty Osetra caviar. Amazing. The following course, sakuramasu (cherry trout), arrived with a clear dome filled with smoke. Once the dome was removed, a cloud of smoke dispersed revealing a piece of vibrant orange tender trout topped with aromatic fresh dill and cool cucumber. The Maine lobster medallions were perfectly cooked and were served with a lobster ravioli tossed in sauce américaine, an exquisite sauce made from lobster shells, fish stock, onions, tomatoes, white wine, brandy, butter, and seasonings. Scrumptious. Next, the Muscovy duck was delicious with a sprinkle of spices served with an excellent meat jus, braised scallion, and sweet garlic chive. The last savory course, the A5 Wagyu beef, was outstanding. The letter A stands for the yield grade (the proportion of meat from a certain part of cattle); Grade A is above standard, Grade B is standard, and Grade C is below standard. The number stands for the quality of the meat ranging from 1-5 (5 being the highest); the meat is based on various aspects such as the marbling, color and brightness, firmness and texture, and luster and quality of fat. This A5 Wagyu was without a doubt the most tender, supple piece of meat I have ever tasted in my life. The meat literally melted in my mouth. Truly incredible especially paired with a light yuzu (Japanese citrus) and soy foam and spicy honwasabi. Next, the cheese course was not only delectable but also creative with creamy lush cheese, airy fava bean spongecake, candied citrus, sweet dried prune, and a great crunch from the nuts. Lastly, the strawberry parfait dessert was a fantastic way to end the meal. A strawberry extravaganza! First, the dessert was served with a glass of “juice” that was truly the essence of strawberries. The parfait was expertly crafted with various layers of complimentary flavors topped with refreshing strawberry sorbet and a brunoise of fresh strawberries.
KEIKO à Nob Hill was a wonderful dining experience filled with beautiful delightful food and therefore my overall rating is a 8.5/10.