Managed to get a reservation a week ahead of time by browsing for cancellations. When we arrived on time for our 6 PM seating, there were already two parties of two with their meals in progress. While the bar does seat 9 ppl, Yoshi-san told us later in our meal that he purposely didn’t fill those seats. So a 9-top restaurant was in reality a 6-top. No wonder it’s hard to get a reservation! We had the started omakase (the special version requires advance notice).
The cooked dishes that started the meal were all really good, perhaps with the exception of the uni dish that was good but not really at the same level as the other preps. The pacing of these courses was maybe slightly faster than I would normally expect, but not too far outside of the ordinary. An initial few courses quickly was somewhat welcomed, in fact, as I was pretty hungry upon arrival.
Then we started the nigiri courses. The rice was texturally excellent, probably the best I’ve had in the Bay Area. Each grain had just the right toothesomeness and individualness but cohered properly as a whole. Both the rice and the fish are served considerably warmer than is typical… I’d say it was room temperature fish and a touch warmer rice. I think in general nigiri is served too cold, but this seemed perhaps veering just slightly too far in the other direction, but I enjoyed it as as an atypical experience. My main issue with the meal started becoming noticeable at this point: the nigiri was basically being made and served at a breakneck pace. He makes one piece, we eat it posthaste (as Jiro has instructed us all to do), and within, oh, 1 to 2 minutes another piece appears. At this point it felt like we were practically being rushed out the door, which might actually be the case as they had a second seating that started at 7:30 pm and, if I understood them correctly, they prefer to completely reset the restaurant. One extra piece of buri added on, plus some dessert, and we were out the door by 7:15 PM, along with the other two-tops.
So start to finish, it was 1h15min flat. For 18 course omakase that’s not exactly cheap, it just felt improperly paced. I barely had time to savor each piece of nigiri when the next appeared. Overall, I’m a bit torn. The food is generally top-notch relative to other Bay Area places, but for me the experience was substantially marred by the pacing. I think I would much rather spend less money for a much better overall experience at Gintei, where just a couple of weeks prior the nigiri was on par with Yoshizumi.