If you have ever had the opportunity to sit at chef Ryo Sakai’s counter while he was making sushi at the now-closed Pink Zebra or at Domo in Hayes Valley, you’ll be happy to hear he has partnered with longtime friend Cory Jackson to open a restaurant for the first time together (they started working together years ago at Blowfish): KUMA SUSHI + SAKE.
Kuma will be opening in May at Polk and Post in a former Western Union, and they want to be a neighborhood sushi restaurant that can work for all kinds of budgets. Guests can order à la carte or omakase (4, 8, or 12 courses), and they will even offer vegetarian selections. There will be a strong focus on local seafood (from TwoXSea), with some fish sourced from Japan as well. Dishes will be creative and feature some fun touches, like ochazuke (tea-infused dashi stock poured over rice and kombu-cured fluke) and a spin on chawanmushi with smoked goat cheese. House-fermented pickles will also play a part. (The name means “bear”—Jackson collects little animal figures, and it’s also in homage to the California bear, which has a taste for salmon.)
The 25-seat space is pretty intimate—they’ll actually just start with 18 seats, and it will be walk-in only (no reservations). The spacious bar has 11-12 seats, so guests will be able to enjoy a lot of interaction with the two chefs. The counter will feature an inset sushi case that is lower than usual so guests can see inside. The overall design will be warm and inviting, with natural colors, wood, and galvanized steel, plus there are high ceilings. They will be curing the wood at the front entrance through shou sugi ban, a Japanese technique of charring and preserving wood.
There will be both local and Japanese beers, plus wine and a frequently changing list of sakes. Look for some purposefully affordable picks on the beer list.
Right now they are doing some preview dinners and menu testing on Feastly. The two current dinners are sold out, but keep an eye out for future dates. And I’ll keep you posted on their opening. 1040 Polk St. at Post.
Nigiri at Kuma. Photo via Kuma on Feastly.