Executive Chef: Toshihiro Nagano
Cuisine: Seafood, Japanese, Asian Fusion
Price: Appetizers 1$10-20; mains $20-$30
Address: 1725 Alameda Street, San Francisco, CA 94103
Hours: Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30am-2:30pm; Brunch: Sat-Sun 11am-3pm; Dinner: Tues-Sat 5pm-10pm, Sun-Mon 5pm-9pm
Squeezed between two freeways in the SOMA/Design District neighborhood, Skool is a gem of a seafood restaurant that our SF resident foodie friend introduced me to. From the outside, the place is unassuming, but once you get inside the gate, you are greeted by a spacious outdoor patio which would be delightful on a warm sunny day. You follow the ramp lined with leafy plants and bamboo stalks up to the lit up double doors and enter the restaurant.
The interior has all the little details I love: open kitchen, a communal table, and a fully stocked bar. The name of the restaurant is a play on words; so there is a very adorable interplay of the 2 different “schools”. The menus are written on binder paper clipped to a board, with a #2 pencil as well. And the dishes served are delicious schools of fish. Similarly to many other local restaurants, Skool places emphasis on sustainability of its ingredients as well as design of the restaurant, sourcing local ingredients and employing local designers who use recycled and refurbished materials to create the restaurant’s ambiance.
Chef Toshihiro Nagano, a native of Japan, actually wanted to become a surfer. But after a scary wipe-out on his first try, he got six stitches and abandoned the short lived hobby. He eventually pursued cooking and worked in Giradon (where he met his wife and partner), Bushi-Tei, and Blow Fish to Die For before opening Skool. The husband and wife team work together at the restaurant but also love entertaining guests at home with simpler Japanese meals. What they serve at the restaurant, however, is definitely not simple. The dishes are intricate in flavor and in the instance of uni flan, for example, kind of mind blowing. So this is what we ate.
Fresh Oysters – Hood Canal from Seattle and Shigoku from Washington with Champagne Mignonette and Wasabi Cocktail Sauce
The friend who took me to this restaurant is a big oyster fiend and turned me onto Shigokus. While I have nothing against other oysters, I have to admit these were pretty magical: they have the clean, light delicate sweet sweetness of a cucumber, yet still with a salty brininess.
Toro Iwashi – House Cured Local Sardine, Avocado Mousse, Raspberried Onion, Toasted Almonds, Herb Oil
Salty sardine balances well with creamy avocado mousse and sweet onion
Uni Flan – Light Sea Urchin Flan Topped with Ikura, Fresh Uni and Fleur de Sel
The masterpiece of the entire meal. My friend warned me about this dish, and my expectations were met and exceeded. The uni flan was TOPPED with more uni and caviar. We ordered 2 of these. Nuff said.
Squid Ink Spaghettina- Monterey Squid, Shrimp, Garlic Tomato Compote, Red Curry, Lemongrass Dashi-Broth, Seaweed Butter, Enoki Mushrooms, Shiso
Usually not a pasta fan, but loved the tomato based broth with all the seafood. Reminded me of a San Francisco-Style Cioppino.
Fried Baby Eryngii – Sun Smiling Valley Farm Eryngii Mushroom Fries with Skool Miso Aioli
Not the healthiest side dish, but the fried eryngii are tasty and chewy especially paired with the miso aioli