To celebrate our second wedding anniversary, Leslie and I decided to spend the day in San Francisco eating. We started at Samovar Tea Lounge, where we shared a pot of green tea and another of Pu-erh, which is fermented Chinese green tea–Leslie was a fan. The caffeine seems to have affected my eyebrows.
From there we did lunch at the Monk’s Kettle, which is kind of like Toronado in that it has an amazing bottled and draft beer selection, but minus the sticky counters and loud punk music and plus a very tasty food menu. We kicked things off with 0.5L of Weihenstephaner Hefe, which reminded us of our newlywed summer in Berlin where we drank it in the Weihenstephaner restaurant in Hackescher Markt.
From there, we did some shopping, saw Up at the Castro theatre, then quickly got back to eating at the Anchor Oyster Bar in the Castro. The oysters were just a warm up for the main event, though: Kiss Seafood.
I linked to the Yelp page because Kiss Seafood doesn’t have a website. They also don’t have a lot of other things like a good location, nice decor, a large menu, any employees besides the husband (chef) and wife (waitress) who own the place, nor room to seat more than 12 people (including at the bar). What they do have is the best sashimi I’ve ever eaten. We sat down and ordered the chef’s omakase menu, which is like a prix fixe menu at a French place where the chef decides what you eat. This menu came recommended, and it was also the most convenient option because we couldn’t read the specials anyway:
I’m now going to bore you with a description of each course because this, my friends, was a dinner worthy of rememberance and it is my website after all. We didn’t get enough pictures of the food, but just imagine everything coming out looking half like a sparse, modernist painting and half like something you really want to eat, now. First was a sweet, light salad of soybeans, bean sprouts, and seaweed with a delicate vinegar and sesame dressing. Then, we got a trio of flavors that I’m not used to at a japanese place: smoked (maybe braised?) octopus with what I swear was a barbecue sauce—and it tasted like brisket, not rubbery at all; turnip slices with the most amazing hash of marinated scallop on top; some unidentifiable, firm, delicious root vegetable.
The third course we hit the fish. It was a plate of two slices each of six kinds of sashimi. Here’s the plate after one of each has been eaten:
Let’s be clear: this was the best sashimi I’ve ever had. The pieces were bite-sized, bursting with flavor, each one an adventure of texture in my mouth. I wish had gotten down all the names; here are some snippets from my notes. (Yes, I started taking notes. It’s not weird at all.)
“Something like red striped bass that tastes, according to Leslie, ‘like the deck of a ship—but in a good way.'” “Giant clam. Crunchy like the plumpest oyster, but smoky sweet and not salty at all. Wow.” “Thai snapper with the skin still on. Delicate. Perfect.” “Mackerel fin. Totally unique texture, not marinated.” “A chunk of white fish that looks like that flavorless, crunchy stuff you get everywhere but which tastes like cod that was force fed melted butter for its entire life.” “Please, don’t let the sashimi be over.” You get the idea.
The fourth course was a clam broth with steamed clams and turnip slices and a ground fish patty. I wasn’t blown away until I had all the ingredients together, then quipped “Wow! Turnip + patty – what a combo. I’m a bad person for judging it early.” Fifth was a miso soup with egg custard, steamed veggies, lotus root, trumpet mushrooms, and chunks of poached whitefish. It was like the platonic ideal of miso–every other bowl I’ve had is a dancing, hollow shadow. I thought for sure that was the end, but no: round six brought an entire plate of nigiri, bite sized and and just as astronomically good as the sashimi (so I guess Kiss is taking “best nigiri” title as well). We waddled out of the restaurant and headed home for sleep.
Not a bad way to celebrate two years.