Dinner at Okane Izakaya in San Francisco

by foodhoe on March 7, 2016

669 Townsend Street, SF | 415.865.9788  | website

okane

Okane is a neighborhood izakaya that opened last month on the far edge of tech trendy SOMA, near the ballpark in an area that is teeming with young hipsters.  It is the newest venture from veteran restaurateur Kash Feng, who owns the tiny, high-end Michelin starred Omakase sushi bar next door.  The two restaurants share fish purveyors and products which are flown in from Tokyo’s renowned Tsukiji Fish Market.  Okane offers a casual, relaxed atmosphere to unwind, eat good food, and have fun with friends.

okane_interior

The interior is cozy with lots of rustic wood surfaces, creative touches like  stylized landscapes on the rear wall and a dramatic display of amusing Japanese Noh masks that overlook the main dining area.

okane_masks2

Mr. K and I were invited to dine as guests of the house and I was excited to check out the menu which features  neo traditional izakaya fare with many shareable plates of noodles, rolls and sushi.  We began with glasses of bubbly Grandin Brut NV from Loire Valley which was bright and crisp, very refreshing after my trudge around the long city blocks as I chased my lame-ass GPS instructions to the restaurant…

okane_bubbbles

The first course was thick slices of Hamachi (yellowtail tuna) cooked using the shimofuri technique which involves very quickly blanching the fish in boiling water then transferring it into iced water to stop the cooking process.  The luscious fish was topped with slices of spicy jalapeno pepper and drizzled with seared olive oil yuzu and ponzu gelee ($20) and strewn with micro chives and shiso leaves and edible flowers.

okane_hamachi

We got an assortment of condiments, soy sauce, wasabi, and housemade papery thin slices of pickled garlic that was so sweet and fresh tasting.

okane_condiments

Next we shared a Harajuku Roll ($16), a sushi roll made with shrimp tempura, salmon and avocado, topped with tuna, paper thin slices of fried lotus root and a scoop of spicy kabayaki flying fishroe.  We normally are happy with plain old-school nigiri, but this roll was really good, the shrimp tempura was so fresh and juicy which made each bite memorable.

okane_harajuku2

The Chawanmushi ($8) was delicate and ethereal, like swallowing savory clouds that dissolved leaving your tastebuds sated with the pure, soothing flavors of smoky dashi, rich egg, shrimp tempura, bok choy, and mushroom.  The tender rich custard  had the texture of the softest tofu and we dug through searching for the little bits of seafood and mushroom.  I love this dish because my late mother used to make this for us when we were feeling under the weather.

okane_chawanmushi

The shrimp tempura was the bomb!  It was smoking hot out of the fryer, the crust was so crunchy and as I bit into the tender flesh my mouth was filled with the roiling hot juices and I had to suck in puffs of fresh air to cool my burning tastebuds.

okane_shrimp_tempura_chawanmushi

The next dish was grilled sake lees cured cod ($15), which my grandmother used to make for us, so I always find these particular flavors to be total comfort food for me.  The sake lees infuse the tender velvety flesh with a wonderful aroma and distinct sweet-savory flavor that develops amazing caramelized crispy edges, which are perfectly suited for the garnish of pickled ginger, greens  dressed with yuzu vinaigrette that are topped with tiny crunchy bits of arare.  This was served with Europhoria sake, a fruit forward, junmai ginjo jokigen that was very quaffable.

okane_sakekasu

We began to really appreciate the fact that we were sharing each plate, because they just kept coming…  a new plate arrived, piled with rich and indulgent Anago (saltwater eel) tempura with Shiso leaf and sliced gobo (burdock) root served with a savory tentsuyu dipping sauce with grated daikon radish, topped with grated ginger for additional brightness. We’ve never had tempura eel and it was fabulous, juicy and rich, and the burdock root offered a lovely earthy balance to the dish.

okane_tempura

Salmon ikura ochazuke, is a soothing dish served over rice, topped with toasted nori, wakame, chives, and served with a savory tea soup ($12).  This was yet another soothing dish from my childhood, the toasty rice infuses the tea and when you bite into the the salmon roe it fills your mouth with the salty flavors of the sea.

okane_ochazuke

It is served with a small plate of pickled vegetables, which were on the mild side.

okane_pickles

I was excited to see Saba Karaage as the next course, which is mackerel that is infused in a flavorful ginger, soy sauce, and garlic based marinade, then is battered and fried. It comes out light, crispy, and full of flavor, with a delicious crunchy crust.  It was served with a wedge of lemon and a spicy mayo dipping sauce.

okane_saba_karaage

We ended the meal with a scoop of Sesame Ice Cream with blackstrap molasses from Okinawa. The ice cream was wonderful, it was both savory and sweet with a rich and nutty flavor and the drizzles of molasses added a mysterious darkly sweet element.

okane_sesame_icecrea

We both enjoyed each plate, the quality of the ingredients speak for themselves, but the cooking techniques made for a delicious meal full of comforting flavors.  Thanks so much for such a delightful meal Okane!  Did I mention that the word Okane translates to money or gold?  I am not sure if it is a play on the owner’s name Kash, or a conjuration of things to come…

okane_sushibar

Lunch is Monday – Friday: 11:00 – 2:30
Dinner:  Monday – Thursday: 5:30 – 11:00;  Friday & Saturday: 5:30 – Midnight

Okane Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Rosa March 7, 2016 at 9:31 am

Such delicious looking food!

Cheers,

Rosa

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Ben @Focus:Snap:Eat March 7, 2016 at 9:57 am

I had a similar meal to yours recently too! I agree that I’m generally not a roll person, but that harajuku roll was pretty and tasty! I also liked the chawanmushi, very light and smooth custard (like silken tofu). Did you get to try any of the sake? We had one that was so smoooooth. 🙂

Reply

foodhoe March 7, 2016 at 6:19 pm

Yes, I liked everything! And we did get a bottle of Europhoria sake, a fruit forward, junmai ginjo jokigen that was very smooth.

Reply

grace March 8, 2016 at 4:46 am

what a spread! the tempura batter looks perfect from where i’m sitting!

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