Maybe you’ve flown Basic Economy from SFO to Madrid and are still dealing with the crick in your neck. Or your friend went to a cheap tattoo parlor, and got a blurry unicorn inked on their lower back (or, maybe it’s the Alcatraz lighthouse - who knows?). In other words, there are some things you need to spend a lot on for it to be good. We thought omakase was like this, until we went to Oma San Francisco Station. It’s a small omakase counter in Japan Center with great sushi, and an entry price of only $30.
Unlike other omakase spots that can feel serious and intimidating, this place is a much more casual experience. The restaurant is at an open corner at the end of a hallway in the middle of the mall. Behind you, people shop, eat ice cream with their friends, and chase down their kids. During dinner, the chefs keep things light. They’ll excitedly explain what nigiri they’re preparing, or rattle off a few jokes about California rolls before making you swear to never order one again.
There are four omakase menus to choose from at Oma, from the $30 set of five pieces to the $125, 23-course Secret Menu. Of the options, our favorite is the $55 Hikari set with eight pieces of nigiri, a handroll, and soup - it’s a good middle ground that shows the varied sushi this place offers without diving in on a huge meal. While individual pieces will vary, it’s all delicious. There may be tender bluefin tuna with chives underneath, almost creamy kanpachi cured in kombu for five days, or arctic char that’s been hit with a blowtorch just long enough to make you think it fell asleep while trying to get a tan.
If you’ve never done omakase before, or seek it out like the latest iPhone, Oma San Francisco Station needs to be on your radar. You end up paying around half of what you would for the same amount at another omakase spot in SF, but its affordability doesn’t make it a shortcut option, like taking Spirit Air. Instead, you’re getting an incredible experience that’s much more approachable than you thought.
There are four menu options at Oma San Francisco Station, ranging from $30 to $125, and nearly every piece of nigiri is handled differently. There may be absurdly tender akami bluefin tuna with a little chive, aji with sinus-clearing pickled ginger, and rich ankimo that’s been torched on the outside (it’s the closest thing in SF you can get to foie gras). We like the midrange options, but if you’re obsessed with sushi and have two and a half hours to commit, go with the $125 Secret Menu. It gets you every piece of nigiri from their a la carte menu, plus seven pieces more that are off-menu, like red shrimp that taste like lobster, different types of uni, and blowtorched A5 wagyu beef that melts away like it was never there. It’s a great value that takes a casual experience and turns it into an all-out marathon of fish.
Here are a few examples of what you can expect from whichever set you order: