Bushi-Tei has been on my list for awhile now, but I have been a little hesitant to try it with Pdho, because he is rarely impressed with fancified Asian food. Bushi-Tei, which is located in the middle of Japantown, is a French-Japanese fusion restaurant, but I recently read that Michael Hung had taken over as Executive Chef. I’m not sure if he is Chinese or Vietnamese, but I read he would be drawing from all cuisines across Asia while maintaining the foundation of French and Japanese blended styles of cooking. I have to admit that I was a little worried that this restaurant might succumb to the same pitfalls of many other fusion restaurants where they try to blend a bunch of cuisines together in a way that just doesn’t end up being appetizing. However, I had my gift certificate to redeem, so off we went to dinner on a Friday night.
It was past 7pm, but when we arrived, it didn’t look like the restaurant was too crowded. It was a nice, clean modern place with glass and steel but there was also wood paneling as well which was in line with the East meets West theme. We ended up getting seated at the part of the restaurant where the tables were all placed a little too close together, so I could clearly hear the conversations between the couples on either side of us. As a result, I think Pdho and I ended up having a relatively quiet dinner.
Most of the time, the bread is filler and doesn’t necessarily taste all that good, but the two types that got served here were actually quite interesting. The bread on the left was kind of like a less dense version of a mini bagel, and the one on the right was made with brown rice. The brown rice bread had some interesting texture (probably from the brown rice).
The Grilled Sonoma Foie Gras was a nice way to start the meal. It was a nicely sized piece that was seared and served with burdock, a sake gastrique and these mini toasts. The toasts were slightly sweet and kind of crumbled like a cookie or biscotti, so it added an interesting contrast to the richness of the foie gras.
The tofu was surprisingly smooth and creamy. Instead of the typically bland taste, the tofu had a mix of rhubarb, cocoa nibs and shichimi togarashi, which is a Japanese spice blend, giving it an interesting bit of flavor. The lightness of the tofu made it the perfect antithesis to the fatty foie gras, but I still equally enjoyed it.
The duck breast was served with potatoes, daikon and some vegetables. It was well-cooked with a less gamey flavor than duck can sometimes have. I quite enjoyed it even though I thought that it would have been even better if the skin was a little crispier.
The black cod was served on a bed of bok Choy with mushrooms and lap xuong sausage. The sauce was very buttery which made the perfectly cooked black cod taste even creamier. At the same time, there was a lightness to the dish which made me feel like I was eating healthier than I probably was. I thought the fish tasted quite refined and I really loved it.
Overall, the food was quite delicious and the whole ambiance of the place seemed perfect for a romantic night on the town. I really enjoyed the experience here, but I think what is hard to swallow is how much the food costs. It’s not super expensive, but it definitely is not economically-priced, so I think I’m just not used to Asian-esque food costing so much. I don’t want to take away from the true quality and excellent taste of the food, but at this price point, it seems to be competing with a category of restaurants that serves even higher quality food. I would definitely recommend this restaurant though, but I would save it for a once a while special occasion.
1638 Post St.
San Francisco, CA 94115
PAFO Ratings for Bushi-Tei:
Ambiance 3½ stars
Food 4 stars
Overall rating 3½ stars