Omakase style dining has been the trend nowadays for upscale sushi restaurants to showcase what’s in season and what the chef recommends.
As soon as a hot new restaurant opens, it’s impossible to get a reservation here in San Francisco since the city is filled with some serious foodies. Of course, jū-ni is no exception and I just happened to stumble upon an opening for dinner. Jū-ni means twelve in Japanese which represents the number of seats in the restaurant (yes, there’s only twelve seats available and therefore they were booked for a solid two months straight but I got lucky) and the number of dishes in the omakase. There is also an à la carte menu where you can add supplementary courses to your twelve course omakase.
The omakase started off with a vibrant colorful salad of golden beets, rainbow carrots, asparagus, shiso, and a velvety cauliflower cream.
The first six courses were nigiri sushi, each meticulously prepared and seasoned appropriately with various garnishes. My favorites out of this first group were the kamasu/Japanese barracuda nigiri with ginger and scallion and the hirame/fluke nigiri with a torched piece of its fin on top with daikon and ponzu.
After the first set of nigiri sushi, we had a delicious cucumber palate cleanser. The cucumber had been cut with various incisions so the marinade could seep all of it’s refreshing flavors into it. Following the palate cleanser were another six pieces of nigiri sushi, all so beautifully prepared.
Some of my favorites out of this group were the hotaru ika/firefly squid nigiri (delicious baby squid), ikura/salmon roe nigiri (they marinate the roe with sake, homemade soy sauce, and honey and top the nigiri with frozen ankimo giving a luscious mouthfeel), kinmedai/golden eye snapper (one of my all time favorite fish due to its natural unctuous fattiness), sakura masu/cherry trout nigiri (a beautiful piece of fish with an unique sweetness), and shirayaki unagi/freshwater eel nigiri (crispy skin with tender meat).
After the last nigiri sushi, you have the option of adding any other supplementary courses and of course I couldn’t resist. We decided to order the “nigiri favorites” which contained toro/blue fin tuna belly nigiri (literally melts in your mouth), kaisui uni/Japanese sea urchin nigiri (perfect in every way), and A5 wagyu beef nigiri (simply amazing).
Traditionally at the end of an omakase, a soup is offered as a closing dish. Their fish consommé was delicate yet rich garnished with mitsuba and enoki mushrooms.
The omakase ended with homemade mochi balls with adzuki (red bean paste) which was my least favorite of the meal but the fish was so outstanding that I didn’t really mind.