Yuji is a new kappo-style restaurant that quietly opened April 8 in San Francisco — just in time for Japantown’s Cherry Blossom Festival — and is the second spot from Hirohiko Sato, owner of Izakaya Mayumi in the Richmond District. Sato is partnering with chef Yuji Yamauchi, who moved to the Bay Area two years ago from Japan and has trained in this traditional style of Japanese cuisine.
Kappo is a newer style of food for San Francisco, with just a few spots including Niku Steakhouse and the now-shuttered Hitachino Beer & Wagyu claiming this style. For those unfamiliar with kappo, Sato likens the style of cooking to a more casual version of multi-course kaiseki-style restaurants. Kappo focuses on the five primary cooking techniques (grilling, steaming, frying, simmering, and raw preparations) in a similar multi-course fashion as kaiseki; Yuji will follow in this same style with a 12-course meal sourcing ingredients from Japan and a few select spots in the U.S. There will be no sushi at Yuji, Sato explains, but instead expect courses using items such as A5 wagyu, premium bites of fish like amadai (tilefish) and nogoduro (blackthroat seaperch) from Japan, and sea urchin and lobster from Maine.
Yamauchi moved to the United States in the hopes of opening his own restaurant, Sato shares, and the chef worked in high-end Japanese restaurants for 20 years. The restaurant is taking over the former OzaOza spot on Post Street, which shuttered in December 2020 as chef Tetsuro Ozawa fought pancreatic cancer, and who sadly died in June 2021. Yuji will keep things intimate in the 500-square-foot space, with Yamauchi preparing dishes from behind the bar counter for nine diners at each seating.
Yuji (1700 Post Street, Unit K) will be open for reservations only Thursdays through Mondays, with seatings at 5 p.m. and 8 p.m., $180/person.