It’s been a year and half since I started working remotely due to the pandemic. Regardless of your work situation, I think we can agree that there’s been a lot of change, growth, hardship, and adaption during these times. I’ve come to appreciate not having to commute, the privilege of a stable home and work environment, and the ease at which I can order seemingly anything for delivery.
Being at home so much has been conducive to plenty of reflection. I carry a mixed bag of guilt, relief, and appreciation of my situation compared to many others, especially those in the restaurant and bar industry, which I follow closely. Although I can’t fully relate, my heart hurts for those that have been forced to pivot, simplify, and/or say goodbye to things that brought them joy and seemingly stable systems that were ripped apart.
Today I’m reflecting on my first in-person omakase experience since things reopened earlier this year. While many omakase spots shifted to takeout during the pandemic, the nature of omakase is arguably one of the hardest to translate to takeout. I honestly don’t have traditional omakase that often because even in “normal” conditions, the quality of the fish can still vary depending on the market that day. And at SF price points, it’s logically easier for me to spend the same amount on tasting menus where most dishes are cooked and/or multi-layered with ingredients, since I can presumably get a more consistent experience.
Having said that, I really appreciated my first in-person omakase in the past two years at Kibatsu! While my meal was sponsored, the standard price point starting at $125 is very reasonable for San Francisco. Chef Roy has created a modern interpretation, incorporating dishes such as uni risotto, deep fried wagyu ice cream cones, and a glorious maitake and fig topped seared toro.
When I dined back in July 2021, the chef’s counter was still closed, but I was able to sit indoors. The 15 courses came out in a timely manner, with total dinner time just over 90 minutes at a leisurely pace. The nigiri and sashimi were very good that day. A highlight was lean bluefin tuna sashimi that had fruity notes and the toro with caviar nigiri. The afore-mentioned modern dishes were also a standout, especially the sweet and savory dessert course with black sesame ice cream and yuzu sorbet cones, topped with a juicy, warm cube of deep fried wagyu.
I felt comfortable dining indoors in the smaller space, and I look forward to many more omakase experiences and gradually getting back to a sense of normalcy!