Nisei (San Francisco, CA)
2316 Polk St.
San Francisco, CA 94109
Dining date: 7/17/22
Nisei opened in August of 2021, an exciting addition to the San Francisco dining scene. The restaurant first started out as a pop-up before the pandemic and settled into its own physical location on Russian Hill, replacing the long-tenured fine dining restaurant La Folie.
David Yoshimura is the chef here, most recently the Chef de Cuisine at Michelin-starred Californios. Yoshimura is half Japanese, and Nisei (the Japanese word for second generation) is an ode to his heritage and blend of Japanese-Californian cooking here. He is serving an elevated version of washoku cuisine, traditional ‘homestyle’ Japanese cooking but with plenty of Californian influence. The restaurant has Michelin star aspirations with a price to match – the tasting menu currently runs $192 before any supplements and a 20% service charge. I was invited in to give the restaurant to try; given it was already on my radar, I jumped at the chance.
Nukazuke watermelon rind
Salazar Oyster. iacopi english pea. wasabi
Puffed Mochi. hamachi. kumquat
Grilled corn. local uni. fermented blueberries. popcorn
Hiyashijiru. Kuzu Noodle. Half Moon Bay Wasabi
Ankimo Pate. milk bread. cranberries
California King Salmon. ume. burdock. red beet
Abalone. dulse. fresh tomato. finger lime
Japanese Black Curry. A5 miyazaki wagyu. morels
Lamb Bone Miso Broth. yuba. negi
Rue & Forman Rice. lamb fat. furikake. sesame
Martin Emigh rack of lamb. lamb jus
Shared Cultures Amazake. k & j flavorosa pluot. spruce oil
Japanese sponge cake. marshmallow. strawberry. banana
Kinako Mochi. pluot dango. coffee yokan
The abalone was a treat, the thinly sliced morsels were sweet and succulent and served with the most concentrated tomato condiment. The lamb chop was another highlight, served in its own jus, especially with the lamb bone miso. The ‘bread course,’ warm milk bread with a rich and savory monkfish liver pate made for more memorable bites. And it’s hard to go wrong with A5 wagyu, cooked perfectly in a katsu breading, accompanied by a hearty black curry and morels. Nisei delivered a strong meal throughout and a unique type of Japanese fine dining experience; there’s nothing quite like it in the city.
Note: This was a hosted meal.