Village Sake made Michael Bauer's list of Top 100 Bay Area Restaurants for 2017!

Chicken thigh skewers. Village Sake. Photography by John Storey. SF Chronicle.

Chicken thigh skewers. Village Sake. Photography by John Storey. SF Chronicle.

We're incredibly excited to be included again in Michael Bauer's list of Top 100 Bay Area Restaurants for 2017! It's been an exciting year for the bay area dining scene - we're honored to be in such amazing company!

Congratulations to the Village Sake team - thank you for all your hard work!
http://projects.sfchronicle.com/2017/top-100-restaurants/

The sushi, generally six or eight fish a night, is always immaculate, but Whitman really excels at other dishes, including the tempura of maitake mushroom shrouded with a delicate coating, the chunks of chicken thigh threaded on skewers with scallions, the gossamer scallop-chive dumplings, and the grilled hamachi collar. The kitchen has a way with vegetables, which might include kimchi Brussels sprouts or curried spaghetti squash hit with lime and ginger. The interior has a classic rustic sensibility, and the service is warm and helpful.
It’s a restaurant that deserves to have long wait lists, and, while you wait, you can always have a cocktail at 19 Broadway or one of the other bars that line the street.

We're in the Michelin Guide

The Michelin Guide honored us with the award of Big Gourmand "exceptional food at moderate prices." A very big congratulations to our hard working team and our community to guests that make this journey possible. Congrats Chef!

http://www.sfchronicle.com/restaurants/article/Michelin-unveils-2017-Bib-Gourmand-restaurants-9980854.php

Best of Marin

Best of Marin

Marin Magazine listed us along with many other great establishments in their 'Best of the County' list. Another accomplishment for one of the best hard working teams out there. Congratulations everyone! A big thank you to our Fairfax community and all those wonderful guests we have that make their way into Fairfax each night.  

http://marinmagazine.com/August-2016/Best-of-the-County/Food/

Monday Night Pop Ups

The Trifecta are back!

The trifecta are three of our chefs (Lai, Ryan and Jason) who helped open up Village Sake. We are letting them take over the kitchen for the next two Mondays to offer up a different menu experience at Village Sake. The last time they did their pop up we sold out by 8:00pm.

They will be taking over our kitchen again on the next two Mondays. (July 11th & 18th at 5:00pm)

Hamachi Tacos
Ribs
Ramen
Sushi
and more...

Check out the menu here
https://goo.gl/cQXCMN
(menu subject to change)

We made the SF Chronicle's Top 100 2016!

Wow! We are so impressed with our team. To make the Top 100 in our first year is truly a great accomplishment for everyone's hard work. Thank you team Village Sake!

Scott Whitman was the chef at Sushi Ran for 15 years, but last year he teamed up with Fairfax firefighter Scott Porter to open a Japanese izakaya in this quiet Marin town. The sushi, generally six or eight fish a night, is pristine, but Whitman also excels on other dishes, whether it’s charred octopus explosive with Korean chile paste; smoked salmon with pickled tea leaves; or gossamer scallop chive dumplings. The kitchen has a way with vegetables that might include curried spaghetti squash hit with lime and ginger. The interior has a clean, rustic sensibility, and the service is warm and helpful — especially when trying to choose one of the sakes. It’s little wonder there’s often a line when the restaurant opens at 5 p.m. But it’s definitely worth a wait.
Specialties: Miso black cod; chicken thigh skewers; Wagyu beef tataki; tempura green beans; kimchi Brussels sprouts; warm toffee cake

Written by Michael Bauer
Edited by Kitty Morgan & Paolo Lucchesi

Another Great Review From the Marin IJ

Whitman is an accomplished chef, having won a Michelin star in 2007 and 2008, cooked at the acclaimed James Beard House and led kitchens in Hawaii, the Caribbean and Japan..... His new venture with Porter is definitely causing a buzz around the county and the lines out the door can attest to the well-deserved popularity that Village Sake is enjoying."
Grilled shitake mushrooms , a featured item at Village Sake on Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2015, in Fairfax, Calif. (Robert Tong/Marin Independent Journal)

Grilled shitake mushrooms , a featured item at Village Sake on Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2015, in Fairfax, Calif. (Robert Tong/Marin Independent Journal)

"Each dish came out looking like a jewel with beautiful presentations, lively garnishes and just enough sauce or condiment to embellish and accentuate the main ingredient."

Our Chronicle Review is out. Three Stars!

We are very proud and excited for our team for garnering such a great review from Michael Bauer in the San Francisco Chronicle

  Village Sake. Photo: John Storey, Special To The Chronicle

 

Village Sake. Photo: John Storey, Special To The Chronicle

Scott Porter is a Fairfax firefighter, but you’ll also see him working the door at Village Sake, greeting guests and kindly telling hungry patrons there might be a 45-minute wait.

Even when the doors open at 5 p.m. on a Sunday, there are enough people waiting to fill all 36 seats. Their patience is rewarded with pristine slices of Japanese sea bream ($11), skewers of skirt steak glazed with yuzu ($11) and crisp, lacy tempura ($9). That’s probably the reason Michael Mina and his wife were among those standing in line one evening.

Porter has a strong local connection to this quirky town of 7,500, which is said to have the highest percentage of Green Party members in the United States — and his partner Scott Whitman has the talent to keep them coming back. For 15 years, Whitman was the chef at the popular Sushi Ran in Sausalito, consistently earning a place in the Bay Area’s Top 100 Restaurants.

The pair took over a Chinese restaurant in downtown Fairfax and turned it into a Japanese pub, which seems a little esoteric with all the bars and entertainment venues that line the surrounding storefronts. Yet it’s clear people are hungry for what Village Sake offers.

I had a flashback to Sushi Ran when I tasted Whitman’s miso black cod ($16) perched on a bed of spinach. It was always one of the most popular dishes in Sausalito and it continues to resonate here. Several other specialties, such as the hamachi collar ($15), will also seem familiar to fans of Sushi Ran. It, too, is a must-order item; with its rich, bold flavor, it’s the foie gras of seafood.

The Village Sake menu consists of small plates, a few sashimi and nigiri options, maki rolls and three or so skewers, including smoky chicken thighs ($7) lightly brushed with a soy-based sauce.

Whitman’s tempura was always a wonder in Sausalito, and it’s just as light here whether the batter is coating tender green beans ($8) or in a more substantial fry with shrimp, burdock root, sweet potatoes and other vegetables ($9).

The compact space was designed by Jim Maxwell of Architects II in San Francisco and it has a pleasant rustic vibe. A row of high wooden booths line one wall, and a counter separates the dining room from the kitchen where you can see Whitman, with his lanky physique and long blond ponytail, stoking the fire.

It’s amazing what the crew turns out of that tiny kitchen. Even when they’re slammed with everyone sitting down at the same time, the plates come out rapidly and beautifully presented. The Wagyu beef tataki ($22), far and away the most expensive item on the menu, consists of two dozen thin slices of marbled beef precisely fanned around a knob of daikon, red onions, ponzu and hot red pepper paste, which the efficient waiter suggested we mix together to help flavor the meat. It’s a combination that works on every level.

Charred octopus ($14), explosive with Korean red chile paste, is beautifully displayed on an oblong plate, its tentacles arranged between tiny potatoes and leaves of mizuna.

Whitman is unparalleled in his treatment of vegetables. He chars Brussels sprouts ($6) and flavors them with kimchi, creating a dish that is so good I can’t get it out of my mind. He spikes spaghetti squash ($6) with curry, ginger and lime, twisting the long strands into a beehive in the center of the plate; it looks like a pile of angel hair pasta, but still has a vegetable crunch. In yet another memorable preparation, Whitman grills shiitake mushrooms ($8) and tosses them with green onion, ginger soy sauce and clumps of tempura fried corn.

The small-plate selection includes delicate scallop-chive dumplings ($9) where the gossamer wrapper encases finely minced seafood and little chunks of ginger that continually surprise with intensity.

Grilled yellowtail collar at Village Sake in Fairfax.Photo: John Storey, Special To The Chronicle

Grilled yellowtail collar at Village Sake in Fairfax.Photo: John Storey, Special To The Chronicle

The restaurant features about 10 maki rolls — including my favorite, the crab and avocado roll with cucumber and tea leaf aioli ($7). Others include spicy tuna with shiso, avocado and jalapeño ($9); the Village roll ($15) with spicy tuna, tempura shrimp and crab; and tea-smoked ocean trout ($12). From the dozens that I saw being made to order, it’s clear that many people come to Village Sake for these items, but they often have so many ingredients that the fish gets lost. I could go an entire meal without them and be happy.

Instead I gravitate to one of the raw fish preparations, such as smoked hamachi tataki ($14) with avocado, supremes of ruby grapefruit and a yuzu black pepper sauce. There may be only six or eight different kinds of fish available as nigiri — such as ocean trout or red snapper ($7) — but the flavors are pure and the rice is perfectly prepared, so that the grains are separate but creamy.

The staff has a good feel for the clientele, helping them find their way through the menu and in choosing among the 15 or so sakes on the list. In fact, some of the staff worked with Whitman at Sushi Ran and followed him to Fairfax.

Each meal, we got an education about sakes. About halfway through a carafe of sake, Hiromi Higuchi, a certified sake sommelier, asked what we thought of it. She then offered samples of two others, including one she equated to a “martini” because of its intense flavor.

Chef Scott Whitman. Photo: John Storey, Special To The Chronicle

Chef Scott Whitman. Photo: John Storey, Special To The Chronicle

I probably wouldn’t have ordered dessert if I wasn’t working, but then I would’ve missed the warm, moist toffee cake ($8), similar to what he produced at Sushi Ran, served with ginger gelato. There’s also a coconut mochi cake that walks the line between the classic American dessert and the rubbery, chewy Japanese sweet. Whitman also offers doughnut holes ($8) that are worth ordering if for no other reason than the accompanying miso caramel sauce.

Warm toffee cake at Village Sake in Fairfax. Photo: John Storey, Special To The Chronicle

Warm toffee cake at Village Sake in Fairfax. Photo: John Storey, Special To The Chronicle

From start to finish you can see the professionalism in the decor, service and the food. It’s a restaurant that not only fills a need in Marin, but one that would lure me across the bridge for the nigiri, hamachi collar and those kimchi Brussels sprouts.

★ ★ ★

Village Sake

Food: ★ ★ ★

Service: ★ ★ ★

Noise: Three Bells