Keiko à Nob Hill is named for the female chef, Keiko Takahashi. While she works her magic in the kitchen the small elegant restaurant is well overseen by her husband Seigo Takei who also has a huge selection of wines to chose from for your meal. They have been in this location for 5 years and he uses much of the space to store wine that is not listed. The fun is in the talking with him about what you like and letting him chose something you don’t know about and he did a marvelous job. He will work within your price range. They do offer a couple levels of wine pairings. They only do one seating each night in the building that has residential units above. The comfortable seating is well spaced with low lighting accented by candles and soft jazz music in the background.
Fine linens and flatware enhance your experience while the curtains on the walls and carpets help dampen conversational noise to an easy but private level. There is one seating time, 7:00 and one tasting menu with no supplements or options. The food is for the most part not ‘in-your-face’ flavor but there is a elegance to it that lingers with you in the fine aftertaste and thoughtfulness of the selections. I would definitely recommend visiting if you can.
Our menu started with Amadai, a wild Japanese tilefish. Presented under a glass dome holding in smoke, that is the first taste. The fish is mild but the smoke penetrates into the edible scales. It is accented with dashi gel, crunchy seaweed and Japanese Cherry Blossoms. It is a nice effect with good textures.
The Uni is also from Japan and paired with cauliflower mousse and seaweed purée juice all topped with caviar and a gold flake. There are lots of layers of flavor here and the caviar is especially good combined with uni. All ingredients blends well or are excellent separately – a winner here.
Zuwaigani snow crab is next with trout roe, turnip puree, chervil, sorrell and eggs. The Japanese crab is delicious, nicely herbed and blended exceptionally well with the other ingredients.
Foie Gras Espresso is one her specialties. The Hudson Valley foie gras is pan seared and served with a purée of Japanese yam all on a sauce of espresso, black pepper and salt. It is accompanied by a fresh house made brioche which you can used to dab into the strongly flavored sauce. The sauce contrasts well with the sweet squash and rich and perfectly cooked foie gras. Another winner here.
Sumiika (white Japanese) & Hotaruika (baby squid) are 2 types of Japanese cuttlefish served on squid ink orzo, caper and anchovy sauce. The orzo was a really fun touch to this subtle and not heavy dish. A perfect dish to follow the foie gras.
The next course is Tsukiji Market or ‘special fish from Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo. My understanding is that chef communicates with the market and they ship in whatever looks best. Our visit that turned out to be Hirame or Japanese Flounder which was blanched and topped with black truffles, surrounded by a sunchoke purée. The tender, buttery fish dish offered some amazing flavors and blended well with everything else. It was my favorite so far – I really wanted to lick this plate clean.
Cornish Hen was served with 3 sauces. The tender, moist hen had been cooked in a sous vide and served with a hen sauce reduction, beurre blanc and pan foam. Morrell and black trumpet mushrooms were the final enhancement to this tasty plate.
A5Wagyu from Kagoshima island was served with yuzu-soy foam, Honwasabi, Brussels sprout leaves, kale chips. I swooned over A4 Wagyu but A5 is a step right into ecstasy. This is the foie gras of wagyu. No words can do justice to this finely prepared perfect piece of beef. It was yum x4!
The night’s cheese course was an aged gouda with apricot purée, fig and Granny Smith apple. A very nice transition into dessert.
Dessert was several things: a coconut panna cotta with mixed berries; raspberry mille-feuille with cream anglaise and a Canelé. The Canelé was probably my favorite – reminding me of marshmallows cooked over an open fire, but it’s hard to beat a wonderful custard and a few fresh berries for simple elegance of flavor. A perfect puff pastry and luscious sauce made the mille-feuille a good treat also.
The Mignardises included vanilla cupcakes, blueberry tartlet(with a sweet crust), chocolate truffle and macaroons. They were nice enough to pack them up for us to take with us as we were stuffed.