Owner Chef

Mitsunori Kusakabe

C.E.O. / Chef, Sun Gathering International, LLC

●Born in Kyoto.

●Graduated from Kinki University for the Department of Architecture.

●Learned Kyoto cuisine (Kyo Kaiseki) in Kyoto, the center of traditional Japanese cuisine, which will later become the basis for his cooking style.

●Was trained various cooking skills including sushi in Osaka and Tokyo, also obtained a cooking license and a blowfish license.

●Experienced chefs in Canada (Vancouver), as well as in the east coast of the United States (New York, Miami), etc., where he learned about various food cultures in each city. Then returned to San Francisco / Bay area where he found most suitable for his cooking.

●Won a Michelin Star in SUSHI RAN, where he worked as an executive chef for 10 years.

●Opened KUSAKABE in Jackson Square in San Francisco in May 2014. Five months later, received a Michelin Star.

●Was the World Sushi Technical Competition Winner (US representative).

●Was the winner of US Sushi Technical competition.

●As one of the representative chefs in the United States, demonstrated with chefs from around the world at the Japanese Food Summit.

●Was invited to President Obama’s Party (at that time) and served him Sushi.

●Was a Special Instructor of Japanese Cooking at Napa CIA Cooking School

The restaurant archived:

●Michelin Star

●SF Chronicle food critic Michael Bauer said, “I discovered what a true Omakase menu might mean” in his review.

●Highest rate on Yelp reviews under $$$$ in San Francisco/Bay Area

●Highest rate on Google reviews under Japanese Restaurants in San Francisco

●San Francisco Chronical Top 100 Restaurant

●OpenTable Top 100 Restaurant

●Zagat Best 50 RestaurantAND

●Served for former President Obama

Our Concept

Sushi in Kaiseki Style – Seasonality and Harmony

KUSAKABE’s course menu mainly consists of sushi along with a few other complementary dishes. Although it changes according to what ingredients are available, it will always reflect seasonality and harmony based on the kaiseki cuisine principle.

Kaiseki is a traditional multi-course dining that is comparable to Western haute cuisine. It is originated from the Japanese tea ceremony tradition that emphasizes seasonality and being in the present moment. “Goshoku, Gomi, Gokan, Gohou” is one of the essential tenet in creating kaiseki menu that is translated to “Five Colors, Five Tastes, Five Senses, Five Methods.”

 Five Colors

Color pallet that is visually expressed in dishes: white, black, yellow, red, green

 Five Tastes

Balance of tastes throughout the course: sweet, salty, sour, bitter, spicy

 Five Senses

Kaiseki cuisine aims to appeal to five senses: sense of taste, smell, vision, hearing, touch

 Five Methods

Five cooking methods used to create the menu: roast, steam, fry, simmer, raw


Variety of Sushi – explore beyond Edomae sushi

It’s been a while since Omakase sushi (the choice of sushi is left up to the sushi chef) has been popular in many sushi restaurants in the SF Bay Area and beyond. Most of Omakase widely known is Edomae style, which originated in 1820’s in Edo, or now commonly known as Tokyo. It started as a fast food business style where they only used local fish from the Tokyo Bay.

While Edomae style has been most widely accepted worldwide, it is in fact a single variation within many other types of sushi that exist in Japan. Others include Temari-zushi, Bo-zushi, Oshi-zushi, and Nare-zushi. It is considered that a type of Nare-zushi, fermented sushi is the first type of sushi that appeared in the 8th century.

At KUSAKABE, we will showcase the variety of sushi beyond Edomae style. Chef Nori uses the technique of old sushi styles and arrange them to be appealing to today’s sushi lovers. You may be able to discover the new realm of sushi you have never experienced before. Please ask our sake and wine sommeliers for drink suggestions to find the best match with the menu for you.