The Omakase Restaurant Group continues to dominate the Design District dining scene with a cutting edge butcher, The Butcher Shop by Niku Steakhouse. The city’s only certified Kobe beef retailer, the shop opened quietly this weekend at 57 Division Street in the new One Henry Adams building. There, it’s serving retail customers seeking quality cuts and also supplying the group’s soon-to-open Japanese steakhouse next door. Daily sandwich specials arrive in March.
Other beneficiaries of the Omakase Restaurant Group’s new in-house butcher are its just-opened neighbor, Udon Time, and the group’s other restaurants nearby: Michelin-starred namesake Omakase, Michelin bib gourmand spot Okane, and casual hit Dumpling Time.
While there’s no huge sign on the new butcher shop’s hefty copper door, a floor-to-ceiling locker with 5,000 pounds of dry-aging meat proudly announces its location and ambitions. For meat lovers, it’s a tempting sight, and for anyone, it’s an education.
That’s what head butcher Guy Crims seeks to provide. A Japanese beef fanatic and lifetime Bay Area butcher (he started at age 14), Crims spent the last 15 years at Pape Meat Company. The Omakase Group had originally tapped Japan’s Wagyumafia to run its steakhouse and butcher shop, but the deal ultimately fell through. Co-owner/Omakase chef Jackson Yu later met Crims on an exclusive beef tour led by the Japanese Wagyu Beef Committee, along with then CosechaSD chef Steve Brown, who will run the steakhouse.
Among the team’s claims to fame: They were the first Americans to import an entire wagyu steer. “That’s what bound us together as butchers and chefs,” says Crims. As a sign of their shared dedication, Crims, Brown, and the entire leadership team at the butcher shop are tattooed with an “A5,” the symbol of the highest grade of wagyu beef.
Beyond imported wagyu — A5 grade and otherwise — the Butcher Shop by Niku Steakhouse sells USDA Prime beef from Nebraska (fresh and dry-aged), Heritage Berkshire Kurobuta pork from Iowa; USDA Choice Superior Farms lamb from California; and domestic wagyu beef from Imperial Wagyu in Nebraska, a cross-breed with American beef that’s less marbled with fat. The idea is to offer everyday prices for casual customers and premium cuts for those willing to pay: Imperial Wagyu chuck is $9.95 a pound, while Japanese wagyu strip wagyu is upwards of $89.99 a pound.
The new shop also stocks everything a customer might need to prepare and enjoy their steak: Knives from American knife master Mike Solaegui, Himalayan pink sea salt and black pepper from Spiceology, Lodge cast iron pans, and local wines, and wagyu beef fat by the tub ($10 for a half-pint). The space is sleek and inviting, with elegant Japanese satori plaster walls, and a bar with seating for eight. That’s for hosting after-hours private dining experiences and beef tutorials, which are also on their way.