Keiko à Nob Hill
1250 Jones St
San Francisco, CA 94109
Dining date: 12/1/13
My dad’s mentioned Keiko à Nob Hill a number of times in the past as a potential restaurant, but we didn’t try it until this most recent trip to celebrate some November birthdays. Chef Keiko Takahashi and partner Seigo Takei opened the restaurant at the end of 2011; while there hasn’t been a ton of buzz surrounding the place, it has garnered a Michelin star in the last couple of guides.
Located in the ritzy Nob Hill neighborhood and in the old location of the venerable Charles Nob Hill restaurant, it looks and feels very expensive. Especially with their tasting-menu only and fusion French/Japanese fine dining. However, its 6-7 course menu is priced at a not-unreasonable $95 a head and comes with some of the best service I’ve had in any restaurant recently.
Given our relatively larger party size (six), we were seated in a private dining room at no extra charge.
Chestnut Duo chestnut soup with milk foam and chestnut dumpling
The meal began with this amuse bouche duo. The soup was pretty delicious, warm and comforting with a rich chestnut flavor. The dumpling was interesting, very earthy with a savory glaze.
Cauliflower Mousse abalone tartare, ossetra caviar, uni, aonori gelee, cherry blossom smoke
The first proper dish of the evening was this mousse, served under a glass dome filled with cherry blossom smoke. The strong woody flavor was definitely imbued into the mousse, while slightly chewy pieces of abalone and sweet sea urchin flavors helped to brighten up the bites.
Crab and Persimmon asian pear, cucumber, persimmon sauce
Chunks of crab were complemented by some fresh, sweet fruit flavors from crisp pear and persimmon slices. A persimmon foam provided an extra jolt of persimmon while the pomegranate seeds added some texture.
Cod Shirako Tempura matsutake tempura, ponzu sauce
Both the shirako and matsutake were tempura-fried and I enjoyed them. The shirako was warm and smooth, balancing out the crispy batter nicely. A bright ponzu sauce contrasted the earthy mushroom and helped to contrast some of the richness of the fried food.
Sake Lees Soup shiokoji marinated black cod, ‘syungiku’ foam
Silky smooth cod was bathed in a delicious savory broth. Mushrooms and an interesting foam completed the dish.
Muscovy Duck tsukune, ‘dukkah’ sauce, carrot glacê, chanterelle mushroom
The duck was a bit chewy but cooked a beautiful medium-rare. On the opposite side, the duck meatball was flavorful though a touch dry. Both were still good, though. Fried fish skin was a fun accompaniment, providing a bit of crunch and depth flavor.
Wagyu soy foam, wasabi, enoki and bean sprout salad
We ordered this supplement to the tasting, $65 for 3 ounces of the wagyu. It came out a perfect pink color – juicy and delicious. The cut of ribeye was noticeably well-marbled, but not as excessively as some other pieces I’ve seen. Freshly grated wasabi and the soy foam were really nice accompaniments, as was the salad to break up the bites. We really savored this one.
Huckleberry and Fromage Blanc Parfait banana ice cream
Our next course featured some interesting flavors particularly from the champagne foam and its sharp bite. The mildly creamy cheese and sweet banana ice cream all provided accompanying flavors while the puffed rice added some crunch.
Chocolate Mousse Ball espresso ice cream, milk bits, caramel sauce
This dessert had some familiar flavors between the chocolate, espresso and caramel. However, there were some great textures and a little playfulness that made this stand out. A passion fruit sphere was a difference-maker.
Mignardises almond-hazelnuts macaron, chocolate ganache, pear pate de fruits
Our meal at Keiko à Nob Hill was very well executed and just creative/different enough to keep things interesting. The service was notably strong and attentive without being overbearing. Given the price range and surroundings, it’s definitely a nice spot for a special occasion meal. It was for this one.