I was feeling a bit lost the other day, so I stumbled into a restaurant in San Francisco’s Lower Pacific Heights neighborhood that I’ve been wanting to try for a while per the suggestion from a serious food-appreciator I know [#acinader]. It’s called Kiss Seafood (1700 Laguna St. (at Sutter), 415-474-2866).
The small 11-ish seat, truly “mom-and-pop”, restaurant is run solely by a husband and wife couple – Takao and Yoko Nakagawa, where he prepares the food, she serves the clientele. They’re in their 60s now, cutting back hours from 6 to 4 days a week… “almost retirement,” I overheard them say in the most modest and genuine way. The couple moved to the United States after about 30 years in Japan – where Takao had been working in “less ingredient-focused” restaurant atmospheres. Takao mentioned that he was excited to open a restaurant where he could really focus on the best ingredients – from their produce and tofu to where their fish was sourced from. The care for the food they served was so apparent with the first appetizer (a small bowl of crisped tiny anchovies tossed with mirin-marinated threads of daikon skin). I had the “special omakase” – a version of their chef’s tasting with their favorite fish choices for the evening; and I’d have to say that I’d without a doubt give it a 5 of 5 stars. I dined alone; the entire experience was surprising, enjoyable, and delightful. I took a few of the following snaps to share my experience and highly encourage not only awesome sushi-appreciators but also those of you looking for unique intimate dining experiences to go by to check them out! (There were only 2 couples there while I dined – one couple on a Tinder date seated at the modest bar and a friend-duo at an adjacent table.)
Here’s the first appetizer course of the special omakase – the crisped tiny anchovies with daikon threads – that I enjoyed with a nice dry Asahi!
Next was a three part appetizer (left to right), a cold salad of Japanese mustard spinach with tofu (very mild and refreshing), a pickled cucumber salad (also mild and refreshing), and one of THE BEST ankimo (or steamed monkfish liver) with daikon I’ve ever had.
Here’s a zoomed in look at that ankimo with shaved daikon, thinly sliced scallions, and ponzu sauce.
Following was the sashimi plate – chockful of their best fish of the night! The toro (fatty tuna) was some of the best I’ve ever had.
The next dish astounded me with its creative use of ingredients, preparation, and cohesive depth – a ground fish sausage in a fried tofu skin, with ponzu-marinated radish, seaweed, soy-marinated green onion accoutrements, and a tasty miso dipping sauce:
Next was a piping hot ceramic crock of chawanmushi – a version of a delicate egg custard flavored by mirin, bamboo shoots and exotic mushroom. Yoko made sure to warn me that there was perfectly cooked halibut at the bottom and to “enjoy scoop by scoop”, not to mix – and oh boy, did I enjoy scoop by scoop
The beautiful nigiri plate was next wherein the marinated tuna, abalone, and wild sockeye Alaskan salmon really stood out to me.
Finally, the cleanest, most delicate yet powerful mushroom soup ended the omakase on a perfect note!
This was not a part of the omakase, though on the specials menu, a wild uni (sea urchin) fresh from Hokkaido that evening, I just had to try. It was absolutely perfect.
The meal ended with a sliver of the perfect melon that I saw Takao delicately select to serve for the evening. So scrumptious!
I left this meal full, satisfied, and a bit more comfortable with the environmental lost-ness I’d entered the experience with. I’d highly recommend trying this restaurant before the Kiss Seafood team fully retires
xo, Huckleberry Kim