Wine Dine and Play: August 2013

5A5 Steak Lounge

5A5 Steakhouse ia an Asian fusion steakhouse in San Francisco, California

Contemporary Japanese Steakhouse: With Kobe Or Wagyu?
San Francisco, California USA
Cuisine Style: Japanese, Steakhouse
Average Price: $$$$
Overall Rating: 5/5
Dined in: August 2013
Article updated in February 2020
By Sean Overpeck (CFE)
**A full article and index glossary of restaurants, wines, recipes and travel for 
Wine Dine and Play are in the pages section above, or by following these links:

5A5 Steak Lounge Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Executive Chef:
Allen Chen
Chef Allen Chen of 5A5 Steakhouse in San Francisco, California

Proprietor / Manager:
Steve Chen
Ken Wagstaff   

I wanted a steak, and boy did I get what I asked for. Some people say that steak is just a steak. If that’s the case for them, then they will keep the stock and board members of large companies like Longhorn and Outback happy for years to come. Let them, I personally want quality, with a fun atmosphere, and innovative cuisine from the chef’s not afraid to stick their necks out. Nothing against a Bloomin Onion, but I’m bloomin tired of all these cheap steakhouses popping up on every city block. That is why dining at places such as 5A5 Steak Lounge in San Francisco, makes it all the more enjoyable. Then the added bonus…Kobe, a special bread from the Tajima strain Wagyu cattle that are raised in Japan's Hyogo Prefecture according to rules as set out by the Kobe Beef Marketing and Distribution Promotion Association. Though earthquakes and Tsunami’s over the years that Japan has suffered through were horrible, they also took a major toll on the beef production, which has led to scams and restaurants claiming they serve the real deal, but may not. 

Kobe beef is only found in some of the better steakhouses in the United States, so therefore a steak is not a steak, because people that say that, have never had Kobe beef before. Have I ever had Kobe beef before? The servers and managers at 5A5 said yes when they sold it to me. The next big question to ask is simple. Does 5A5 Steak Lounge serve real Kobe or Wagyu? Did they meet the strict standards, and were they on the list of eight restaurants in the United States that serve the real thing? One restaurant in San Francisco does. The 5A5 name is part of a Japanese beef grade system where grade A is ‘above the standard’ and levels 1-5 rate from poor to excellent with 5 being excellent, so it is looking good so far. Read more to get the final answer. 

5A5 Menu:
    • Bites
    • Cold Appetizers 
    • Hot Appetizers
    • Soups and Salads
    • Main
    • 100% Japanese Miyazaki Wagyu 
    • 50% Japanese Wagyu - 50% Holstein 
    • Sides
    • Desserts
5A5 was the talk of the town by the concierges. I wanted a neighborhood gem, off the beaten path, and a place where tourist hardly goes, but where San Franciscans can’t get enough of, and that place would be 5A5. The Executive Chef was Allen Chen who built his fame from Alexander’s Steakhouse. The restaurant was a stylish and modernized take on the traditional steakhouse. The bar and lounge area was very hip and upbeat but catered to a more sophisticated crowd, which delighted me even more. The bar had a digital wall of fire behind it, and a man was playing the piano near the lounge and cocktail area. It reminded me at first of an upscale jazz bar until I was escorted to my table in the dining room, and I caught a glimpse of the domed ceiling covered with hundreds of small holes with multi-colored yellow, orange, and purple lights. It reminded me of a scene from a Science Fiction film. The tables were centered on a flower display that highlighted the ceiling dome, and all tables spread out around it. It was a neat dining room design and concept that showed off the modern hip style the restaurant was trying to convey but still gave you the privacy for dinner.

The dome ceiling at 5A5 Steakhouse in San Francisco is right out of a science fiction movie
5A5 Steakhouse / Dome Ceiling
The service staff was very attentive, and immediately greeted me as I sat down, and began to explain the restaurant concept, yet they also backed off and gave me space and time needed to look at the menus and wine list. There is nothing worse than feeling like you are being rushed when you dine out, so I appreciated their patients. At this time some friends of mine arrived and we all relaxed, talked a little and briefly looked over the wine list. This was our second get together, after going to Hubert Keller’s Fleur de Lys the night before.

As the server explained the menu in detail, he also brought out a wood cutting board with four different cuts of meat on it. These meats were certified A5 Wagyu, This is the highest grade given only to the finest Japanese black beef and costs between $27.00-$29.00 an ounce. I knew that as soon as he delivered that cutting board to the table, I was sold.

Certified A5 Wagyu meat cuts at 5A5 Steakhouse in San Francisco, California
5A5 Steakhouse / A5 Certified cuts
The wine list had a very good selection and variety of both Old World and New World vintages, and the night before I had a wonderful Burgundy, so I was in the mood for white wine. My friends also drank some white wine as well. Now the wine and food snobs of the world would look down on me when I say that I was in the mood for a white wine while about to eat steak, but that is the old school snobbish philosophy when it comes to wine. A Sommelier I worked with years ago, who was very knowledgeable, could pair any type of wine for whatever you were eating. However, the odd thing that I did notice from him was that he would pair reds with food that you drink whites with and vice versa. This is what attracted my attention. He is the one who even broke me of the old school ways of saying that only certain foods go with certain grape varietals. His philosophy was to drink what you like to drink, not be forced into choosing a particular wine because it matched better with what you ate. It was brilliant. People ate steak, and still drank their white wine, and he could sell $500.00 bottles with this method.

So we all settled on the 2010 Wwe. Riesling Dr. Thanisch Bernkasteler, from the Mosel Saar Ruwer wine region of Germany. According to the winemakers tasting notes in the nose you find right from the start the typical smokey and spicy notes. Very dense with an almost oily concentrated texture, it presents itself extremely complex with kumquat, red apples, physalis, honey melon, and caramel.

The word Spätlese means late harvest. When it comes to German wines I get confused with their classifications system as well. Most people, even me before reading more on the subject assume that if it is a Riesling, then it will be sweet. Not so much when it comes to German wines. In Germany, the ripeness of grapes varies tremendously and profoundly affects the types of wine that can be produced, and in the end, what you will drink. You, of course, have the basic table wines as in any country, but superior quality German wine designations are used as followed, in order of increasing sugar levels. They are Kabinett, Spätlese, Auslese, Beerenauslese, Eiswein (ice wine), and finally, the richest and best being Trockenbeerenauslese. 

A Kabinett is semi-sweet to off-dry, the Spätlese is semi-sweet but depending on the harvest can also be dry. The Auslese or “select harvest” is a riper wine than the other two and can be considered an Ice wine for dessert, but I would drink it as an aperitif instead. Beerenauslese classification wines are usually made from grapes affected by noble rot, or "botrytized" grapes, they are typically very sweet and rich, and most age very well. The Eiswein category is produced through frozen grapes that stay on the vine into wintertime, and are very, very sweet, classified for dessert wines. The final category for German Riesling’s is Trockenbeerenauslese a.k.a “TBA.” They are very sweet wines even though Trocken means dry, and because they are so difficult to produce, they are very expensive. So make sure before you order a German Riesling that you know about the classifications, The Spätlese we ordered was very vibrant, peppery, carried tasty notes of pear juice, and light on acidity. A very smooth wine. 

We placed our orders, and then sipped on some wine, enjoying the atmosphere and the piano music, all while watching the action of the expediting line. An assortment of freshly baked pieces of bread was brought to the table to munch on while we waited, all of which were wonderful. The Amuse course arrived consisting of tostada shells topped with some Ahi Tuna and microgreens, a nice little bite to start off with. Next came the items from the small bites menu. 

My friend's wife ordered the chicken yakitori for them to split with ginger, scallion, sesame seeds, drizzled with a kabayaki sauce, while I had the small bites of Hamachi, maguro, and Wagyu. All three bites were served on a small spoon, which was a wonderful presentation. The Hamachi consisted of avocado, ginger, yuzu tobiko caviar, and ponzu. The Maguro was a spoon of soy, ginger, cilantro, sesame seeds, and basil panko crumbs. The Wagyu was a spoon of tartare, with grainy mustard, green olive, Asian pear, and a raw quail yolk on top. If this was the small bite, then I couldn’t wait to get the starters and on to the entrées.

Small bite appetizers at 5A5 Steakhouse in San Francisco, California
5A5 Steakhouse / Small Bites
For the starters course or main appetizer, my friends had the yakimono shrimp dredged in a garlic-lemon marinade and served with a soy dipping sauce on the side. I had the tuna tataki, this means to sear lightly in Japanese. It was served with tandoori spice, watermelon, herb puree, and wrapped in candied bacon. Both hit the spot. I loved the Asian-fusion feel to the food while knowing the steak was on the way. For the salad course, my friend's wife ordered the five-spice cold beef salad with Mizuna, compressed melon, cucumber caviar, and lemon vinaigrette. A great presentation and a very tasty salad from the bite I had. For me, since it was in season, and is one of my favorite tomatoes, I went with the heirloom tomato salad, served with a spoon size portion of burrata cheese, balsamic, crispy shallot, and served with a champagne vinaigrette. It was everything I expected it to be, and more. The burrata cheese is the closest cheese I have had to buffalo mozzarella. Burrata is its own thing entirely and to the heirloom tomato salad it is like the proverbial peas and carrot, you can’t have one without the other. 

The chicken yakitori appetizer dish at the 5A5 Steakhouse in San Francisco, California
5A5 Steakhouse / Chicken Yakitori

The Yakimono shrimp appetizer at the 5A5 Steakhouse in San Francisco, California
5A5 Steakhouse/yakimono shrimp

Next came the entrée course or the grand finale since I was already getting full, and new that dessert was out of the question. My friends split the boneless 12-ounce ribeye steak served with shishito pesto, pickled mustard seeds, miso mustard, and a light demi-glace.

The Ribeye steak with shishito pesto at the 5A5 Steakhouse in San Francisco, California
5A5 Steakhouse / Rib-eye steak

For me…The A5 Wagyu ribeye 4-ounce A.Q with truffle sauce and shimeji mushrooms. Every little bite I took was a piece of heaven as if my life in food was waiting for this moment to come. I have had crossbred Wagyu before, both from the Australian variety offered on the 5A5 menu, and American Black Angus crossbreeds, but nothing prepared me for this. It was by far the best steak I have ever had in my entire life.

The A5 certified wagyu ribeye steak at the 5A% Steakhouse in San Francisco, California
5A5 Steakhouse / A5 Wagyu rib-eye 4 ounces A.Q

Now, the entrées did come with a few sides, and in like most steakhouses, the sides are à la carte and cost extra, but I figured no problem since I just bought a $100.00 four-ounce steak, so a few extra bucks would not have killed me at that point. We had four sides to share, the first was the creamy spinach with bacon, onion, feta cheese, nutmeg, and topped with kataifi.  Next came the truffled mac and cheese with gruyere, mozzarella, and cheddar combination. The third was the marble potatoes with cheddar, sour cream, bacon bits, and green onion; nothing to write home about on that side item, and finally, we shared the shrooms dish consisting of maitake, golden enokitake, eryngii, and honshimeji mushrooms all tossed in sherry wine with garlic.

The side items at 5A5 Steakhouse in San Francisco, California
5A5 Steakhouse / Side items
At the beginning of this article, I proposed a question. Does 5A5 Steak Lounge serve real Kobe or just a high grade of Japanese Wagyu that they call Kobe? Are they one of those eight restaurants in the United States (one of them in San Fransisco) that serves it? Also, no matter the answer, did it really affect my overall experience and enjoyment of food and drink? The answer is no to both questions. No, it did not affect my experience, because it was a wonderful evening and I enjoyed the ambiance, food, service, and wine. The main question is also no. 5A5 is not on the list of eight. They serve premium-grade Wagyu from the Miyazaki prefecture, not the Kobe from the Hyogo Prefecture. Did 5A5 charge more for the meat I ate by calling in Kobe? Who knows, but in the end, it was still a fantastic cut of beef, and the best I have ever eaten. Their menu now reflects the name Wagyu, and I dined with them before the 2016 article from the Business Insider was published that called out restaurants that advertised Kobe but sold a lesser grade like Le Bernardin in New York City. 

The eight U.S. Restaurants that serve Kobe are:

Alexander's Steakhouse - which has two restaurants serving the meat and Executive Chef Allen Chen worked at one before 5A5. The first one is in Cupertino, California, and the other in San Fransisco which I also mentioned earlier.
212 Steakhouse Restaurant in New York City
Bazaar Meat by José Andrés, at the SLS Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada
Jean Georges Steakhouse, at the Aria Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada
Nick & Sam's in Dallas, Texas
SW Steakhouse, at the Wynn Las Vegas in Las Vegas, Nevada
Teppanyaki Ginza Onodera in Honolulu, Hawaii
B&B Butchers & Restaurant in Houston, Texas

We did not have any room for dessert, and from the webpage, they do not have a dessert menu listed for me to give recommendations on. I did try contacting the restaurant for a menu request but did not hear back from them.

But check out some of these wonderful selections from Wine Dine and Play: 

Please see these guidelines for Tipping in Restaurants and on following proper etiquette, customs, cultures, and avoiding assumptions when you dine out.

Other Noteworthy Japanese cuisine Articles and Restaurants:
Japanese cuisine encompasses the regional and traditional foods of Japan, which have developed through centuries of social and economic changes. The traditional cuisine of Japan (washoku) is based on its emphasis on seasonal ingredients.

Ambrosia Japanese restaurant and saké bar with sushi in Key West, Florida
Basil Asian Bistro Pan-Asian favorites from China to Vietnam with sushi specials in Canton, Ohio
Blue Fugu Japanese Steakhouse Table-side Hibachi with a sushi bar in St. Pete Beach, Florida
Ichicoro Ane Izakaya Japanese restaurant focusing on ramen bowls at the Station House in St. Petersburg, Florida
Island Ocean Star A family-owned sushi house and marina in the City of Anna Maria, Florida, USA 
Junsui An eclectic taste of Asia with buffets at the Burj Al Arab Hotel, Dubai, UAE
Kuneho (Formally Qui Restaurant) Eclectic global plates and sushi in Austin, Texas
Morimoto Asia Japanese and upscale pan-Asian fare with sushi at Disney Springs Orlando, Florida
Osaka Sushi and Thai Restaurant Thai and Japanese fare including sushi in Seminole, Florida
P.F. Chang’s A ‘farm to wok’ concept Asian chain reviewed at the Tampa International Airport, Florida
Red Shrimp A Japanese / Emirati cuisine beach-style restaurant at Bur Juman Mall, Dubai, UAE 
Saké 23 Formally Souzou with a new name and same great vision in St. Petersburg, Florida
Souzou (Now Saké 23) An Asian-Fusion Gastro Pub with a twist on Izakaya style dining in St Petersburg, Florida
Sushi Sleek Japanese eatery with sushi/sashimi at The Grand Hyatt Dubai, UAE  
The Lemon Grass Casual fusion of Thai and Japanese with tapas portions in St Petersburg, Florida
Wat Mongkolratanaram A Thai / Asian market eatery and a Buddhist temple on the banks of the Palm River in Tampa, Florida
Zuma Contemporary Japanese restaurant, sushi, and cocktail mixology in Dubai, UAE

Noteworthy Steakhouses:
A steakhouse or chophouse is a restaurant that specializes in steaks and chops. Modern steakhouses can also offer other cuts of meat such as a roast prime rib, veal, and seafood. Chophouses started in London in the 1690s and served individual portions of meat, known as chops. The steakhouse started in the United States in the late nineteenth century as a development from traditional inns and bars with establishments such as Delmonico's in New York City. 

Bascom’s Chophouse A steakhouse that uses organic, hormone-free, and locally grown produce in Clearwater, Florida 
Black Rock An American steakhouse where meats are cooked on a sizzling 755°f lava rock in Brandon, Florida
Council Oak Steakhouse Upscale eatery with butchery at Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Tampa, Florida
Fleming’s Steakhouse High-end steakhouse chain (69+) with aged prime cuts, reviewed in Akron, Ohio
Fogo de Chão An upscale Brazilian chain with 49 locations. Review based in Buckhead, Atlanta, Georgia
Frevo Restaurant Authentic churrascaria dining at the Fairmont on Palm Island, Dubai, UAE
Grill 225 Top 10 American fine-dining ornate chophouse, Market Pavilion Hotel in Charleston, South Carolina 
Halls Chophouse Esteemed old-school steakhouse with gospel brunch in Charleston, South Carolina
Laurent Tourondel / BLT A swanky French-American steakhouse fair with 14 restaurants
Malio’s Prime Steakhouse A family-owned steakhouse inside the Rivergate Tower in Tampa, Florida
Oak Steakhouse High-end elegant steakhouse with sustainable seafood in Charleston, South Carolina
Stonewood Grill and Tavern Stylish chophouse chain with surf ’n’ turf; reviewed in Brandon, Florida
Sunset Terrace A classic outdoor American chophouse at Omni Grove Park Inn, in Asheville, North Carolina
Waterfront Restaurant Steakhouse restaurant on inlet offering Gulf views in Sarasota Florida

See the whole list by visiting “The Wine Dine and Play Article Glossary

Other San Fransisco restaurants and articles on Wine, Dine, and Play:

Classic Chinese dishes, tourist trap
San Francisco, California, USA
Lavish French-Californian cuisine by Chef Hubert Keller
San Francisco, California, USA
Sicilian-infused seafood
San Francisco, California, USA

A Few California Favorites:

French-American Fine Dining
A top 20 on Wine Dine and Play
Yountville, California, USA
Artisan cheese shop
Point Reyes Station, California
Farm-to-fork new American fare
Sonoma, California

See the whole list by visiting “The Wine Dine and Play Article Glossary by country

Final notes, review basics, observations, and more pictures:

Most reviews are subjective, depending on the writer; but they should also be responsible, and respectfully written, upholding the truth, and accurately conveying the experience to the best of the writer's knowledge, even if it includes metaphors the restaurant may not like to read about. My ratings are by the stars I award (from 0 to 5). The rating is calculated on a point accumulation of six separate factors based on individual experience. They include wine and other beverage selections, plate presentation, customer service, restaurant or café ambiance, food quality, and wow factor. To see more details of this rating list, read this article:

Overall from this experience and the score factors outlined in the ‘about page’ section, based on my individual experience and rating, I give 5A5 Steak Lounge a 5 out of 5 stars, meaning that they exceeded my expectations and were far above the average dining experience of most restaurants.
Scores are detailed in the factor chart below:

Formula Factor Conclusions and Overall Ratings
Max Points Possible:
Total Points Awarded:
Total Points deducted:
Food quality
Plate presentation
Customer service
Alcohol and other beverages
Total regular points awarded
Total percentage Before Bonus


“Wow” factor BONUS
Total bonus percentage


Total percentage with a bonus for the final star rating


Stars Awarded (see chart below)
             0 - 5
**A full break down and explanation of the observations and point disbursement is available in the linked article above. To receive a detailed copy of your score, feel free to contact me at any time and I will provide it to you.**


Overall Star Rating:
5 of 5 Stars: 
100% Rating with a 3 point “wow” bonus
An Extraordinary Dining Experience
Wine List:
Wine rating:
6.5 of 10
Old World selections: 
France, Germany, Italy, Spain

New World selections: 
California, Oregon, South Africa
Corkage fees:
1st 2 Bottles= $25/each
2nd 2 Bottles = $35/each
After 4th Bottle =$50/each
Conservative to Semi-formal dining
Cuisine Style:
American, Japanese, Seafood
Allergen or dietary accommodations: 
Farm to Fork, Gluten Free, Grass-Fed, Local, Low Carb, Pescatarian, Sustainable, Vegetarian Options
Not Required, But Recommended
Accepted, but not guaranteed
Dress code:
Business or Conservative attire
Child policy:

The Restaurants reviewed on this site may have a kids menu or cater to them; however, for full enjoyment of food and wine, it is recommended that kids not to be in attendance, unless they have been trained in proper etiquette. 
If not then:
Hire a Babysitter! 
Place for foodies, Contemporary, Modern, Lounge, Business parties, Hotspot, Great bar, Good for special occasions, Beautiful décor, Intimate, Classy, Upscale, and a Neighborhood Gem.
Cash, Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express
Valet, or Street meter parking
The restaurants reviewed on this site may have Wi-Fi, but do not require you to go online, because the excitement of the food and wine alone will keep you too entertained instead of checking your social media and emails.
Noise level:
Nonsmoking restaurant
Patio or terrace:

Food Prices 
(excludes, alcohol, taxes & 20% gratuity’s)

$£€¥ -                Under 50.00 (inexpensive)
$£€¥ x 2 -          51.00- 99.00 (moderate)
$£€¥ x 3 -          Over 100.00 (pricey)
$£€¥ x 4 -          Over 200.00 (expensive)
$£€¥ x 5 -          Over 400.00 (very expensive)

**Currencies reflect the world’s major travelers, restaurant, or wine connoisseur’s**

United States Dollar (USD)
Great Britain Pound Sterling (GBP)
Canadian Dollar (CAN)
Chinese Yuan (CNY)  
European Union (EUR)

 Alcohol prices:

$100 USD

5A5 Steak Lounge:

244 Jackson Street 
San Francisco, CA 94111

Contact Information: 
Restaurant website:
Maître d or host:
+1 (415) 989-2539
Online reservations
Website Contact:
Serving hours:
Eastern Standard Time
(GMT, Zulu, or UTC - 5:00)
5:00 pm -9:00 pm
5:00 pm -10:00 pm
5:00 pm -13:00 pm
Social Media 

The world's best restaurants is a subjective list of who is writing it and changes on a regular basis. The Wine Dine and Play best experiences are based on my highest rated stared restaurants, meaning that the visit was an outstanding or extraordinary experience. From cafés, chains, mom + pops, hole in the walls, to fine dining including a few Michelin spots. Visit the Top 100 page to see the entire list.

A few to tease you with…

Quintessential Modern Australian Cuisine 
 Sydney, Australia
Old School Rustic Tuscan
Gulfport, Florida, USA
Eclectic global plates and sushi
Austin, Texas, USA

Other 5A5 Pictures:
The amuse starter at 5A5 Steakhouse in San Francisco, California
5A5 Steakhouse / Amuse 
The tuna tataki appetizer at the 5A5 Steakhouse in San Francisco, California
5A5 Steakhouse / tuna tataki
The Heirloom tomato salad with burrata cheese at the 5A% steakhouse in San Francisco, California
5A5 Steakhouse / heirloom tomato salad
The 5-spiced cold beef salad at the 5A5 Steakhouse in San Francisco, California
5A5 Steakhouse / five-spice cold beef salad
“Culinary perfection consists not in doing extraordinary things, 
But in doing ordinary things extraordinarily well.”

-Angelique Arnauld (1591-1661)

Who is John Galt?


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