Sushi in San Francisco is on an upward trajectory, if the soon-to-open Sushi Hashiri is any indication. At the very least, it's making a play to appeal to high rollers of all stripes — in a market currently saturated with tech money, the restaurant is launching its kaiseki-style menu at the premium price of $250 per person in the dining room and $300 at the sushi counter, with a special $500 omakase option (for comparison, other high-end SF omakases clock in at $100-200 per person).
The Mint Plaza restaurant is the second Hashiri, following the 2012 opening of the original location in Tokyo. Owners Kaoru Hayashi, Ryuichi Terayama and Yasuyuki Rokuyata have invested deeply in the venture, which has a high-ranking group of chefs, including executive chef Takashi Saito, who helped to open Ame, the Michelin-starred Hiro Sone and Lissa Doumani restaurant (which closed earlier this year).
The kaiseki menu is led by chef Shinichi Aoki (Kaygetsu in Menlo Park), while Tokunori Mekaru brings almost four decades of experience from Japan as sushi chef, and as part of the opening team at the Tokyo Hashiri. On the menu, delicate kaiseki dishes like abalone in a sauce of its own liver and morel mushrooms lead up to a selection of 12 pieces of nigiri.
The space itself is a 42-seat affair, with ten spots at the vaulted sushi counter, where chefs serve nigiri-style sushi made from premium fish flown in directly from Tsukiji Market. The dining room is both sedate and playful in a super-modern way, featuring a video installation on the ceiling where Hiroyuki Nakano's images are digitally projected; diners can watch videos of cherry blossoms change to bubbling mountain streams. (Hashiri means "season," which drives the constantly changing images.) The aforementioned premium fish is displayed in museum-quality cases at the sushi counter, which is a jewel box-like line-up of hard-to-find fish and seafood like heart clams.
Kenichiro Matsuura (Ozumo) is the general manager; on the beverage side, Jennifer Estevez is the sommelier in charge of a wide selection of wine, sake, shochu, whisky, and Japanese beers. Sake is served in delicate glasses, hand-painted with cherry blossoms and maple leaves. And for the water snobs among us, the restaurant installed a special filter to recreate the mouth-feel and mineral taste of mountain spring water from Japan.
Hashiri officially opens Friday, May 13. Dinner reservations (no walk-ins) are available for two seatings per night, Tuesday through Saturday at 5 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. and 8 p.m.