To celebrate my VERY FIRST paycheck since moving back to the Bay Area, I took my parents out to their lunch of choice last week. They had been wanting to try Bushi-Tei, a Japanese "French California Fusion" place up in San Francisco, so we dressed up in our Sunday best, piled into the Toyota Camry and drove 45 minutes to the big city. WooHoo!
On Sundays, they serve a $25 for a prix fixe brunch, or as they call it a "Petit Dejeuner"- $25 sounds kinda pricey, but it's a super deal considering the place is fancy pants, and as it tuned out, the meal not so "petit."
Opened in 2005 by Tak Matsuba, Bushi-Tei is modern and elegant in its decor, resonating deep history in its walls. Literally.
The walls, stairs, and the gigantic table placed in the middle of the main dining room are all made out of wood from Matsuba's friend's home in Nagano, Japan. According to an interview with Matsuba in Bayspo, the house, originally built in 1863, was being torn down when he had the idea to take the wood to use for his yet-unbuilt restaurant in San Francisco.
The dark wood (from a Minka tree) lines the walls- completely raw and unrefurbished- it is quite gorgeous and brings an unparalleled earthiness to the ambience. The fact that Matsuba spent a small fortune to ship the material over from Japan is in itself significant- it takes the experience of dining at Bushi-Tei to a more personal level.
In the corner, there's a single block that pokes out of the wall with a name scrawled in kanji. Turns out that it is the signature of the guy who built the Nagano house- over a century ago. Isn't that AMAZING???
Ok, on to the food! The table is lined in white, with pretty silverware. Fancy!
The prix fix includes two courses of your choice, an appetizer and main dish.
House cured sardine, nicoice olives, potato, tomato, Dijon mustard vinaigrette:
The sardines were undercured, but overall, a refreshing salad.
Chicken confit salad with treviso, whole grain mustard cream:
A cup of the soup of the day: Carrot and potato.
No dairy! This actually was my favorite- the consomme overpowered the vegetables a bit, but overall it was a lovely combination of flavors.
Eden natural farm pork (Kurobuta) cutlet, choucroute (fancy word for saurkraut), whole grain mustard, tartare sauce:
The cutlet, in retrospect, was quite good. Lightly battered and fried and served weiner schnitzel style, although a much thicker cut of meat, typical of tonkatsu. The merging of Japanese and German/Austrian cooking styles made sense and worked well together.
Red crab cake, poached egg with herb hollandaise sauce:
Croque washugyu, caramelized red onion, mozzarella cheese:
Great concept, poor execution. The beef was chewy and overcooked, which was a tragedy given that it's supposed to be awesomely marbled meat. The cheese overpowered the meat excessively.
As you can see, the portions are ample- what a deal for $25!!!
After the meal, we ordered the apple dumpling for dessert. So small and lovely! Again, German/Austrian influence.
I recommend the Sunday brunch for a special occasion- it's a special space, and at $25, the fancy menu that is worth the visit.
1638 Post Street
San Francisco, CA