For only being open for less than a month, MOSU nailed their modern kaiseki style tasting menu.
I heard about MOSU from my former coworker who originally moved to San Francisco to help open up this restaurant. But like many restaurants in the city, the opening date was pushed back several months but it was totally worth it! MOSU, located in the Western Addition in San Francisco (neighbors of The Progress and State Bird Provisions), serves a multi-course contemporary Asian tasting menu at $195.
The dinner started off with five small bites, each unique and exciting. The first small bite was a burdock root chip, super crispy and sweet, with house cultured butter, spicy sansho pepper, and kombu. The second small bite was the shrimp chiffon cake, an airy spongelike cake topped with sweet onion soubise and lemon balm. Super cool. Next was a modern interpretation of nigiri with sticky rice infused with sake lees (the remnants from sake production) topped with creamy sea urchin and earthy shaved black truffles. The next small bite, the beef tartare, was my favorite. A crunchy rice cracker topped with unctuous beef tartare with strands of yuba (tofu skin). So delicious. The last small bite was definitely the most daring out of the bunch. Now I consider myself a pretty adventurous eater but even I was slightly hesitant to try the cod milt, but hey go hard or go home right?! For those of you who don’t know, milt is the seminal fluid of fish or mollusks, in this case from cod fish. The appearance of the cod milt reminded me of sweetbreads with a fairly mild flavor and an extremely creamy texture. The fritter was served with Korean gochujang and pickled kohlrabi which helped cut through the richness of the cod milt.
The first course was a beautiful roll: cured tuna belly with creamy monkfish liver (basically the foie gras of the sea) wrapped in kombu and daikon marinated in a refreshing vinaigrette.
Next was the goma dofu, silky sesame tofu, was stuffed with creamy sea urchin topped with tart green apple and briny caviar, swimming in delectable bonito broth.
The grilled geoduck (giant clam) was one of my favorite dishes of the night. Clean crisp flavors. I’ve only had raw geoduck before but this was just slightly grilled so it still had that raw feeling. It was paired with tart kumquat slices and an array of herbs such as lovage and chrysanthemum greens. Beautifully balanced and flavorful.
The sea moss soup had a depth of richness with creamy pieces of foie gras and bitter Tokyo turnips served with white rice and quickly sautéed baby squid in Korean barbecue sauce. The baby squid were out of this world delicious.
Following the soup, the first main protein course was the quail: moist tender meat with a light green olive sauce, acidic lemon segments, mild spring bamboo, and wood ear mushrooms.
The next dish, the acorn “mook”, wasn’t my favorite but I enjoyed the textures and creativity. The acorn mook was basically small jelly like cubes with silky nameko mushrooms, gingko nut, fried onion rings, and a rich broth with bone marrow.
The last savory course, the lamb loin and rib, was outstanding. Perfectly cooked tender lamb loin with an unctuous piece of lamb rib served with tempura fried broccolini, crisp sweet pear, and fermented cabbage pieces.
The “palate cleanser” contained small pieces of tart grapefruit with ginger gelée cubes, elderberries, and Thai basil. I think the dish could have been more successful if the ginger gelée cubes were smaller because the spiciness was slightly overpowering when eaten alone.
The meal ended with a refreshing yet satisfying dessert. Creamy toasted rice ice cream on top of a white chocolate sauce, an airy black sesame cake, and candied Grand Marnier crumbles. Really yummy.
I was impressed at the finesse and execution of the tasting menu for a restaurant that has only been open for a few weeks! MOSU’s tasting menu was a progression of flavors, textures, and techniques that really kept me intrigued during the entire meal. MOSU is not a restaurant for the average diner due to its inventiveness and forward thinking of food. It reminds me of an Asian version of Atelier Crenn for its creativity and artistic touch. Without a doubt, MOSU will be a contender for a Michelin star for 2017 and my overall rating is a 8-8.5/10.