State Bird Provisions*
Reservations are hard to score at this dim-sum style inspired restaurant. Fortunately they set aside a good number of seats for walk-ins like us. Doors open promptly at 17:30, we arrived 45 minutes before and joined the line.
We were #15 on the walk-in list, and we made it!
The food is American with an Asian influence, drawing traditional elements from Korea (kimchi), Vietnam (spring roll) , China (dumpling) and Japan (chawanmushi, nabe). My favorites are sea urchin chawanmushi, and Guinea Hen dumpling in aromatic broth (oh that broth!). My second favorites are the crisp pork belly and cauliflower mushroom nabe.
With all tables filled the instant restaurant opens, service is brisk and attentive. Table turns fast at State Bird Provisions. Even if you are unable to score a seat at the opening time, put your name down and go for a walk around Japantown. Seats usually become available by about 19:30 to 20:00.
One of the advantages for sushi restaurants in the Bay Area is that they have fish fly in directly from Tokyo’s Tsukiji Market several times a week. As a result, their sushi reminds me of the sushi we had in Japan. I mean Sushi Zen in Sapporo is still the best sushi restaurant I’ve ever been, but Kusakabe comes close on this side of the Pacific.
Kusakabe offers sushi in Kaiseiki style. Their specialty is otoro, the fatty bluefin tuna. It is so rich and creamy that you will want to take it slowly and enjoy every morsel. The Daiginjo sake kasu crème brûlée uses sake lees from the sake production. Now I don’t usually order crème brûlée at restaurants because I think it is unimaginative , but this one is definitely worth checking out.
Service wise, the chefs behind the counter are friendly and will try their best to answer any questions you have. The maître d’ is on-point professional. Some service staff needs a little more training.
Overall, $95 for a 19 item tasting menu is a sweet deal for a metropolitan city like San Francisco. And Kusakabe belongs to the same investment group which owns Shiro’s in Seattle.