Restaurant of the Week: Ozumo San Francisco

Ozumo San Francisco’s take on the modern Japanese fine-dining experience dishes up fish as fresh as the waterfront you see through the restaurant’s windows. It is also home of the sleek Sake Lounge, serving the largest premium imported sake list in the United States.

Located right off San Francisco’s iconic Embarcadero, sitting at the base of Harbor Court Hotel since 2001 and now with two outdoor patios, Ozumo provides a rich dining experience and nightlife scene, embodying the bright liveliness of the city with the same vibrancy of the glowing Bay Bridge lights.

The restaurant concept came to be after CEO Jeremy Umland’s stay as a Japanese exchange student and baseball player in the late 1970’s. In 2001, Ozumo became the product of Umland’s love and ode to Japanese food, hospitality and design.

It was the first U.S. restaurant designed by Japan’s renowned Super Potato Design, a space design firm by Takashi Sugimoto, and one of the first large-scale, high-end Japanese dining experiences in the country, sitting at approximately 5,500 square feet.

The Drinks

It’s quite evident how much craftsmanship is put into Ozumo’s classic and eclectic drinks. The Cucumber Blossom has cucumber and Japanese peppercorn-infused roku gin, hibiscus-lime gum and lime juice and is fresh as they come, with a crisp light and refreshing taste. The Umami Mommy has Bruxo mezcal, La Pinta pomegranate liquor and nori simple syrup. It is a much more rich option than the Cucumber Blossom, but still light with a hint of lingering fruit.

The Appetizers

The Wagyu Tartare features a wagyu filet tartare on top of crispy rice paired with beef fat aioli. The richness of the tartare pairs perfectly with the wafer-like consistency of the crispy rice. The rice acts as a neutral tone to allow the flavors of the wagyu and aioli settle into your taste buds.

The Kyushu Karaage is Japanese-style fried chicken paired with spicy aioli and lemon. Newer to Ozumo’s appetizer menu and it’s quite evident how this is now a fan favorite. It is beautifully seasoned and fried without any grease left on the plate or your hands.

The Gyoza, crowd-pleasing shrimp and pork dumplings, are perfectly steamed for the meat and fish to be perfectly moist through every bite.

The Sushi

If there is a way to sum up the entire sushi collection, here it is:Melts in your mouth.” Throughout every roll option, the fresh fish stays buttery and sweet. Though classics like shrimp tempura and spicy tuna are available, Ozumo has a wide variety of divine signature rolls to consider, like its namesake roll (Ozumo’s signature unagi, snow crab, cucumber roll topped with tuna, avocado, unagi sauce and spicy aioli).

When ordering nigiri or sashimi, offered at two pieces per order, four options come highly recommended by staff: Toro – Blue Fin Tuna Belly; Maguro – Bigeye Tuna; Shiromaguro – Albacore Tuna; and Sake – Scottish Salmon.

The Entrees

The wagyu steaks come highly recommended by Ozumo staff, as well. The Ginza Gyu features an 8-oz. American wagyu filet paired with yakiniku sauce. It is perfectly tender, with the meat is juicy enough to only need a small dip of the yakiniku sauce in each bite.

The Ise-Ebi features roasted Maine lobster cooked with lobster butter and yuzu togarashi, presented open in its original shell. The meat, buttered without overpowering the flavors of the lobster itself, lends to a dish that is light enough to feel refreshed, and yet hearty enough to not leave hungry.

The Desserts

Though by the time you get to the dessert menu you may not have room for anything sweet, missing out on any of the after-dinner options would be a crime. The Choco-Fondue features a a pot of Valrhona chocolate fondue and a full plate of seasonal fruit, house-made matcha cake and crisp cold mochi ice-cream.

Ozumo offers outdoor (at Steuart Street and Embarcadero) and indoor dining, to-go and delivery options. In May, Ozumo San Francisco is celebrating its 20th anniversary. Visit www.ozumo.com to be added to Ozumo’s mailing list to learn about upcoming festivities.

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