UPDATE (05/22/2017): Just heard that Okane is temporarily suspending its brunch program for awhile as they focus on launching its new sister restaurant Dumpling Time. So for now you just have to taste the brunch offerings in my pictures until the restaurant resumes brunch.

Weekend brunch is pretty big in San Francisco, but after awhile one can get bored with the typical brunch fare of eggs benedicts, French toast and pancakes.

So it’s refreshing when Okane, the SOMA izakaya and sister restaurant of Omakase, jumped into the brunch game a few months ago with an offering of set menus inspired by the Japanese tradition of kaiseki meals that reflects the season.

I was invited as a guest of the restaurant to check out its brunch menu recently, and I brought along my friend Craig. We went on a Sunday and the restaurant was pretty busy even though it’s in the city’s Design District, which is pretty much a ghost town on the weekends.

The menu has a few a la carte items like crab and lobster rice ($16) or Japanese pancakes known as okonomiyaki ($14), the highlight is the set menus of which Okane offers four options ranging in price from $18 to $25.

Mango tea margarita cocktail made with sake, mango, orange juice and dash of li hing mui powder ($10)

The Kashiwa set menu features a lot of chicken bites.

But before I jump into the food, a brief mention of drinks: I started with the mango tea margarita ($10), which is one of two special sake cocktails offered on the brunch menu (the other is a ramune pear punch that’s Okane’s spin on a mimosa). It was a nice drink although it didn’t remind me of a margarita. Craig got a beer from the menu.

For the set menus, we start with the traditional miso soup, a green salad and a few pickled vegetables. The main food comes as little dishes brought out in a round wicker tray. Craig ordered the “kashiwa” set ($20), which includes braised chicken with turnip (wakadori nimono), chicken gyoza, chicken teriyaki, curry peas and potatoes, and a potato salad with apples and pickled cucumber.

Miyabi set menu that includes stewed pork belly, smoked salmon, tofu, and egg omelet.

Closer look of the smoke salmon with soy glaze

I tried the “miyabi” ($22), which not surprisingly featured buta kakuni or stewed pork belly. It also came with the same braised chicken that Craig had, along with smoke salmon, egg omelet with dashi and mirin (dashimaki tamago) and sesame tofu with cucumber and wasabi (goma dofu).

All the items were beautifully presented and I enjoyed having the variety of items in a set, similar to a lunch bento. Because a lot of the food is stewed or braised, the flavor profile is delicate and subtle, so don’t expect any strong punch in flavor. The menu and style of cooking is inspired by the food served at Japanese spa, so in many ways it can seem calm and serene.

The last bite
Okane opens one’s eyes to a different way to enjoy brunch on the weekends, when you’re looking for something that’s visually pleasing and elegant.

I’m not using my typical rating system since I was a guest of the house. Thanks to Okane for a lovely brunch!

The deets: Okane, 669 Townsend St., San Francisco. PH: 415.865.9788. Open for weekend brunch, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Also serving weekday lunch and dinner nightly. Reservations, major credit cards accepted. www.okanesf.com

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