Kappa [San Francisco, Japantown]

I was treated to a dinner at Kappa restaurant in Japantown last month. Kappa serves koryori style kaiseki, from Kyoto. It’s an elegant, tiny restaurant with a bar and two tables. We had the $95 seven course menu. They also have a 9 course menu for $125.

We ate:

Soup with fish (I forget which, I think cod?), mushrooms, seaweed. Broth and vegetables were very tasty, clean tasting and lots of umami. Fish just a tad bit overcooked in the broth.

Tuna with a mustard sauce and some greens. Tasty, mustard sauce a little sweet and had a nice kick. Tuna was cooked rare.

Seared scallop with salmon eggs, seaweed, sesame, and I think jellyfish. This was good. The searing on the scallop gave it a bit of bitterness. Nice contrast with the sweet ikura.

Main course of tamago, ankimo, duck, asparagus in I think a miso based sauce, simmered hamachi, another fish that I forget, fried corn, eggplant with a sauce that tasted a bit like katsu sauce. Fried fish (halibut?), squid, sea snail, and shrimp. Everything here was good. Favorite bites were the ankimo and the sweet shrimp.

Sashimi course - tuna, scallop, hamachi, uni. I think the wasabi was the real thing. The fish and scallop were quite good. The (east coast) uni had a bit of a funky taste.

Nigiri sushi - seared hamachi belly and unagi. This was the best part of the meal for me. In both pieces the nori was toasted and had a crisp crunch. Shari was nicely flavored and could taste the individual grains. Both of the neta were slightly warm and delicious.

Dessert - a red bean jelly, mochi, persimmon with some mint leaves, raspberry sorbet. I’m usually not a huge fan of persimmon but it was the standout for me. Sweet and delicate. The raspberry sorbet was smooth and refreshing.

Great service and an enjoyable meal, but at $95pp would maybe not be rushing back if I were paying.


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Very nice review. I have been to SF Japantown many times before, but have never tried this place. $95 is a lot, but not unaffordable. For well executed meal, it is what it is. It is certain no more than how people spend on other types of expensive meal. The question for me is really… Do you think its Kaiseki good? Would you consider it to be traditional/authentic? Many thanks.

I’ve never had the pleasure of having a Kyoto style kaiseki meal in Kyoto or anywhere else, so I can’t comment on how authentic it is unfortunately. I enjoyed Kappa’s kaiseki but for the same price I would probably go for the “sushi in kaiseki style" omakase at Kusakabe instead. Different experience in terms of dishes, but I liked the food better at Kusakabe.

“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold