Eating Out

Modern Omakase at The Shota – San Francisco

It seems like SF omakase spots have been popping up the past few years with no shortage of momentum. The newest of these is The Shota, Chef Ingi “Shota” Son’s namesake restaurant. With a background at Morimoto Napa, Hashiri, and Omakase SF, Chef Shota is well-versed in Japanese fine dining.

For a reasonably priced $125 (I ate in December 2018. As of writing, the menu is $150), the tasting menu included 9 edomae nigiri and 5 kaiseki dishes. A sake pairing was available, but we chose a bottle instead.

The Shota - Setting with pick your own chopsticks and sake cup
Setting with pick your own chopsticks and sake cup

The first course was by far my favorite – a savory and luxurious play on the monaka sandwich, with a filling of foie gras, uni, and caviar. This came out like a present in a cloth-wrapped gold sphere. Lucky me, I ate this a couple weeks before the foie gras ban.

The Shota - Foie Gras - foie gras, yuzu persimmon, uni, caviar, monaka
Foie Gras – foie gras, yuzu persimmon, uni, caviar, monaka

Next came a snow crab chawanmushi. This was elevated comfort food – very generous with the crab and delicately seasoned.

The Shota - Zuwai Kanai - snow crab chawanmushi, jade eggplant, ginko nut
Zuwai Kanai – snow crab chawanmushi, jade eggplant, ginko nut

Then we went into the edomae nigiri courses. These were the weakest link for me. While I thought the technique was good, the cuts of fish chosen weren’t as standout as I would expect for this level of dining. Nothing particularly called out to me. My favorite was probably the Hokkaido uni, but even that wasn’t as good as the bafun uni I had at my neighborhood joint Kyosho.

The Shota - Kasugodai - young sea bream
Kasugodai – young sea bream
The Shota - Hotate - scallop
Hotate – scallop
The Shota - Ji Kinmedai - golden big eye snapper
Ji Kinmedai – golden big eye snapper

The Kanburi course came presented in a glass dome with smoke, then lifted for dramatic effect. The strong smoke flavor in the yellowtail paired well with the trio of nori, wasabi, and mustard paste. Yuzu sauce added bright contrast.

The Shota - Kanburi - wintertime wild yellowtail
Kanburi – wintertime wild yellowtail with yuzu sauce. Served with nori, wasabi, and mustard pastes, pickled spring onion
The Shota - Honmaguro Chutoro - bluefin tuna belly
Honmaguro Chutoro – bluefin tuna belly
The Shota - Honmaguro Akami - Marinated lean bluefin tuna
Honmaguro Akami – Marinated lean bluefin tuna
The Shota - Honmaguro Otoro - seared bluefin tuna belly
Honmaguro Otoro – seared bluefin tuna belly

I’m a big mushroom lover and appreciated the mushroom heavy black cod dish. The delicate, sweet cod was enhanced with umami from the mushrooms, texture from the toast quinoa, and smooth cauliflower puree.

The Shota - Kinoko Mushrooms
Kinoko Mushrooms – maitake, shimeji, black cod, cauliflower, toasted quinoa
The Shota - Sawara - Spanish mackerel
Sawara – Spanish mackerel
The Shota - Hokkaido Uni Tray
Hokkaido Uni Tray
The Shota - Hokkaido Uni - sea urchin, one sweet and one savory
Hokkaido Uni – sea urchin, one sweet and one savory
The Shota - Anago - saltwater eel
Anago – saltwater eel

Closing the savory meal was a cup of Akadashi miso soup.

The Shota - Akadashi
Akadashi – hatcho miso, eringy (king trumpet) mushroom, sansho, chives

The single dessert was an affogato of sorts. The matcha ice cream came out with a cup of hot matcha tea that was poured on the ice cream. I loved the strong matcha flavor, though I wished the ice cream were creamier.

The Shota - Matcha - matcha ice cream, cara cara navel, matcha tea
Matcha – matcha ice cream, cara cara navel, matcha tea
The Shota - December 2018 Tasting Menu with Details
December 2018 Tasting Menu

At the end of the tasting, we were given an option to order more la carte. There were some new dishes on this menu with some repeats. I thought my experience was good, but I did not have enough standout dishes to compel me to try more. Also given the competitive sea of omakase options, I’m not itching to revisit. Overall though, this was an enjoyable and solid meal.

I do want to note that The Shota’s service was outstanding and incredibly kind, and they were very accommodating of photography. The EDM music in the background was unique for this type of setting, but it didn’t bother me.

3 thoughts on “Modern Omakase at The Shota – San Francisco

  1. A interesting but lacking knowledge on sushi in general. As a sushi chef in SF, you have to understand that just like tuna, uni and many other items that are procured for sushi varies considerably. Yes there is no excuse for freshness or care for the product, but for example uni can change 3x in a week with 3 different deliveries. It can be same day and taste completely different. So many factors go into this such as temperature, iron in the water that feed the kelp that in return feed the sea urchin. Also time of season. If I had my choice I would return 4 out of 5 orders, for local uni here in california to get that perfect creaminess with no metal or bitter finish. Unfortunately if you do that the vendor would never sell anything to you.
    I feel the people who really understand sushi come for the excitement that they could have the perfect piece that day of a certain fish. Anything that is horrible should be accommodated for but no Omakase will ever be perfect. Out of the hundreds of Blufins i’ve tasted i’ve only tasted 3 that were out of this world.

    Thanks for listening

    1. Thank you for reading, and for sharing your insight. I agree the quality can vary for many factors, which is why I personally prefer to not seek out Omakase experiences.

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