The clock is ticking toward a trio of ambitious new projects in the Design District from Omakase Restaurant Group, the owners of Michelin-starred sushi restaurant Omakase and Dumpling Time, Okane, Live Sushi Bar, and Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
Duo Kash Feng and Jackson Yu, who announced their multi-pronged plans for the One Henry Adams building in March 2017, are moving forward with their designs to open Niku Steakhouse, an accompanying butcher shop called The Butcher Shop by Niku Steakhouse, and an udon restaurant, Udon Time, all by the end of 2018.
First up will be Udon Time, followed by the butcher shop, then the steakhouse. There’s a lot of different ways to slice this project, so here’s eight things to know right now about the multi-part plans:
1. Niku Steakhouse will have wagyu beef jerky flights
That is correct. Beyond making his own sausages, aging meat in house, and fermenting his own kimchi, Niku Steakhouse executive chef Steve Brown (previously of Cosecha SD in San Diego) is promising wagyu beef jerky flights. The center cut beef, cured and hung before customers, will “resemble a stained-glass window” with its marbled fat, the chef says.
2. Get ready for kappo-style dining
The focal point of the 60-seat steakhouse dining room is an open kitchen and a binchotan charcoal grill, offering the area’s first kappo-style service: 12 customers can sit at a counter and interact with chefs at the grill as they cook. There’s also some seating in a private dining room for 10 to 15 people.
3. They’ll have 100 wines by the glass
That’s a lot of wines by the glass (all from California, Washington, and Oregon). In charge of the program overall are master sommelier and consultant Emmanuel Kemiji (who was only the 12th American to pass the master exam, back in 1989) and lead sommelier Brian Kulich (Charlie Palmer Steak Napa, The Restaurant at Meadowood)
4. Udon Time will be fast-casual
A spinoff in name from the Omakase Group’s casual hit Dumpling Time, Udon Time is helmed by chef Edgar Agbayani, who trained at the the Sanuki Menki Noodle School in Kagawa, Japan in preparation for the role. Udon Time will be the first aspect of the One Henry Adams project to open: It’s a fast-casual spot with room for 41 people, who can peer into the open kitchen as a Sanuki noodle maker churns out fresh, slender noodles which are aged overnight.
5. The butcher will be SF’s only Japanese Kobe beef retailer
Only four US retailers currently sell the prized subset of wagyu beef, named for the capital of a Japanese prefecture known for its rigorous beef standards. Head butcher Guy Crims is overseeing the meat at the butcher shop and the steakhouse, and will sell cuts to go at various price ranges from rib-eye to Kobe, vacuum sealed and pre-seasoned at the customer’s request.
6. They’ll also sell sandwiches
Yep, they’ll have takeout sandwiches at the butcher shop. And beyond beef, they’ll sell quality knives and cookware, plus other prized meat like Superior Farms lamb from California and Heritage Berkshire Kurobuta pork from Iowa.
7. There’s after hours at the butcher
By evening, the butcher counter will serve as a “private dining experience” for the steakhouse. Also down the line: “Butcher’s counter” events with visiting chefs and meat people.
8. Niku’s general manager once trained Omakase Group’s owner
Francesca Cunningham, a longtime server at Boulevard, has been appointed general manager at Niku Steakhouse. It’s a full circle move since Cunningham trained Kash Feng when they both worked at high-end Hawaiian fusion chain Roy’s in SF.