San Francisco has a large Japanese immigrant population which supports a vibrant Japantown and therefore some wonderful sushi restaurants. After some research online, I decided we should try Kiss Seafood on the edge of Japantown. The area is residential and you are not expecting a restaurant in the block of apartments. Inside the space is tiny with 5 seats at the bar and three small tables (2 for two people and 1 for four people). The space is neat and clean with simple, elegant flower arrangements. We were seated at the sushi bar which itself is a light wood and each place is meticulously set on a wooden placemat with stoneware plates and a fish shaped holder for the chopsticks. It is a family operation with the husband behind the sushi counter and the wife running the front of the restaurant.
We were brought a hot, moisten towel before the menu. We looked quickly at the menu but had already planned on doing the omakase (based on my research). Omakase roughly translates to “entrusting you.” This is common at Japanese sushi restaurants and allows the diner to sit back and relax as the chef prepares various, creative dishes. The dishes are typically offered from lightest to heaviest. They also incorporate a variety of cooking methods from grilling to searing and do not focus solely on raw fish. We decided on the 5 course option for $60.
Kiss is a seafood restaurant (as the name suggests!) and so all of our dishes highlighted the variety and freshness of the seafood they had to offer that evening. It was a joy to sit at the bar and watch as the chef prepared each dish carefully paying specific attention to the visual aesthetic of each plate. The chef worked quickly and methodically in is simple open kitchen with a stove and toaster oven, grilling, boiling, and steaming. However, it was clear that the most important tool was his sharp knife! It was a joy to watch his graceful, elegant movements and determined focus! For those of us sitting at the bar the chef placed each lovely plate on the glass bar with a generousness which invites the diner to enjoy the food!
We started with a dish of raw snapper, bok choy, and green onion in a ginger sauce. It was delicious! The delicate ginger flavor was pervasive throughout the dish but not overpowering. The smooth texture of the fish was perfectly complimented by the crunch of the bok choy. It was also visually splendid in a neat tower of green against the white bowl. This was followed by a gorgeous plate of sashimi with seven types of fish and shellfish. The presentation was perfectly balanced for colors and texture. The squid was sliced into lovely, thin noodles which just melted on the tongue! This was followed by an egg custard dish. Chawanmushi is an egg custard dish which is often served as a savory appetizer. The rich egg custard was steamed with halibut and gingko seeds at the bottom which provided a nice treat in each byte. The custard was covered in a broth of soy sauce, dashi and mirin and topped with shiitake mushrooms and snap peas. It was delicious!! The creaminess of the egg balanced with the flaky fish in each byte to provide a beautiful combination of textures. Next we received a plate of nigiri which again was perfect! In Japanese tradition we were given a steaming bowl of miso soup with mushrooms and green onions at the end of the meal. Lastly we were presented with a wedge of cantaloupe melon cut into bite size chunks. It was a simple and comforting end to a meal which tickled all of your senses!
Kiss Seafood is a wonderful adventure into the tradition of omakase dining. It is obvious that the chef loves his work and enjoys providing his guests with artistically presented and varied taste combinations! I highly recommend reserving a seat at the bar so that you can watch the master at his craft.
1700 Laguna St
San Francisco, CA 94115