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Inside the Luxe New San Francisco Omakase Filled With Caviar, Wagyu Beef and Fatty Tuna

The longtime Bay Area fave has leveled up.

Nigiri from Akikos Joseph Weaver

Akikos has long been a mainstay of San Francisco’s Sushi scene. But the restaurant is shaking things up, with the debut of its new flagship location, dubbed Akikos at Avery Lane.

Chef Ray Lee has reimagined Akikos in a massive 2,700-square-foot space designed by the firm AvroKO. The centerpiece is the 24-seat chef’s stage, where diners can watch him and the other sushi chefs as they prepare the restaurant’s extravagant omakase menu.

The $250 offering, which includes a mix of small plates and nigiri, takes luxe ingredients like sea urchin, caviar and Wagyu beef and serves them alongside some of the freshest fish available. The flavors are further drawn out by Lee’s application of modern techniques like dry-aging.

Shokupan from Akikos
Shokupan Joseph Weaver

“I promise you this is something special,” Lee told Eater SF. “There’s nothing like this in San Francisco.”

Akikos’ omakase experience begins with a number of otsumami, or small plates like sashimi, Wagyu-filled dumplings and the egg custard chawanmushi. For that last dish, Lee has created a version that features snow crab, a roasted scallion-infused oil and black truffles. It’s an extremely elevated take on a Japanese stand-by. Similarly, Lee’s shokupan tops a toasted piece of milk bread with toro (fatty tuna belly), golden Kaluga caviar and gold flakes.

As you move through the tasting menu, the later dishes will be pieces of nigiri, most of it sourced directly from Japan. Lee uses a dry-ager to help draw out each fish’s peak flavor—although he’s quick to say that he isn’t dry-aging the fish itself. Rather, he’s controlling the temperature and humidity around the fish, a subtle distinction but one that’s key to Akikos’ meals.

Kinmedai from Akikos
Kinmedai Joseph Weaver

A few of the fishes you’ll find include akamutsu (deep sea perch), a fatty white fish served with either ponzu and onion jam or lemon and salt; lightly seared kinmedai (goldeneye snapper); and otoro, the fattiest type of tuna belly, topped with Osetra or Kaluga caviar. All of it is placed atop sushi rice made from a recipe passed down by Lee’s parents, using a 10-year-aged red vinegar for a bit of acid.

“It works really well with a lot of the fatty fish we use,” Lee said. “It kind of cuts the flavor. For me, everything is about balance.”

The updated omakase menu—which Lee and his team have been tinkering with at their exclusive Friends Only—might be the most notable change at Akikos, but the restaurant will also have a full bar for the first time. Cocktails like the Cocomelon Manhattan and Foreign Delegate mainly spotlight Japanese whisky, alongside flavors like sesame.

It’s all certainly a level up—one that Akikos’ decade-long fans are surely excited to experience.

Click here to see all the photos of Akikos.

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