The Chatterbox

Gossip & News (the word on the street)
January 14, 2020
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Caviar, Leek, Crème Fraîche. All photos courtesy of Gap Year at Nico.

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Duck Apicius Pithivier, Apple, Mint.

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Sea Bream, Turnip, Citrus.

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Turbot, Bone Marrow, Turnips, Endive, Sauce Matelote.

Owners Andrea and Nicolas Delaroque of Michelin-starred ~NICO~ in Jackson Square decided they wanted to spend a year off with their daughter in France, and instead of selling the restaurant, a very novel solution was found. Their good friend Paul Einbund of The Morris (whose wife, Vanessa Yap Einbund, designed Nico’s website) and his team are running an interim concept for the year with Nico’s wildly talented chef de cuisine, Jordan Guevara. The year-long, extended pop-up is aptly named ~GAP YEAR AT NICO~.

The collaborative project features a tasting menu ($140) with wine pairings ($110), as well as an à la carte menu for those who want to go that route (um, there’s côte de bœuf). Guevara’s cuisine is intricate, both flavor- and technique-driven, and strongly influenced by classic and vintage French recipes—you will see small notations on the menu that refer to the original source (the chef’s cookbook and page number), so AD13 refers to Alain Ducasse, page 13. But these current dishes at Gap Year are not facsimiles—instead, they were inspired by the originals and revised and riffed on.

Just look at how glamorous and gorgeous they are—and Einbund tells me they’re not just pretty plates, the’re made with the development of deep flavor in mind, like the painstakingly made duck pithivier. How fantastically soigné. (It all begins to make even more sense when you learn Guevara was an assistant for Bocuse d’Or Team USA 2019.) And hold the phone: I can’t believe the elegant presentation of the turbot, with bone marrow, turnips, endive, and sauce matelote ($80). (And by the way, the stunning caviar course comes with a full ounce of caviar, freshly opened just for you.) Pastry chef Alice Kim is also reportedly doing some wondrous things, like a Calvados mille-feuille, fantastique!

Einbund, of course, has crafted next-level wine pairings to match the elevated experience of the six-course tasting menu, primarily featuring his top choices of Champagne, and two still wines. And here’s a bonus feature: since they’re pouring so much Champagne for the tasting menu, you can order some really special selections by the glass. I say pop in and treat yo’self at the charming eight-seat bar. Of course, the madeira-loving Einbund has added 10 selections, and he tells me the pairing of the chestnut soufflé pancake with black truffle and Brillat-Savarin with madeira is just phenomenal, so that’s another way you can enjoy a little something-something at the bar. And there are culinary-driven cocktails from bar manager Natalie Lichtman for you to try as well, with ingredients like sudachi and tarragon.

Einbund tells me the team is working very collaboratively, like servers offering input on wine, with a lot of crossover in their roles as they all push to offer a very special experience. You have one year to start working your way through this menu (which will assuredly be constantly changing) and cellar, time to get to it. Tue-Sat 5:30pm-10pm. 710 Montgomery St. at Washington.

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The sleek new look of Ristobar, with high-top tables and a banquette. All photos: © tablehopper.com.

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The back section of the sinuous bar.

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Housemade tagliolini with local Dungeness crab and a cherry tomato sauce.

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The off-the-menu Jimmy G. pinsa (with ‘nduja, peperonata, burrata, green olive, and tomato sauce).

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A showstopper dessert: the Taormina, with fried cinnamon pastry with ricotta cream, topped with a dollop of Sicilian pistachio cream.

The lights are back on at the corner of Chestnut and Scott, with the reopening of ~RISTOBAR~, after being closed for a building retrofit since 2017. Owner Gary Rulli decided the timing was right to overhaul the layout and look of the spacious restaurant—it has now been divided into a restaurant and an upcoming pasticceria/caffè, due to open in late April.

The restaurant side features a long and curving bar, flanked by high-top tables and a tufted banquette along the wall, with more seating in the back and a semi-private room (with the original red booths). It has a classic look, with blue-and-gold patterned wallpaper (almost the same blue as Pantone’s color of the year, so on-trend), comfortable blue bar chairs with nailhead accents, touches of bronze, and lots of warm wood.

It straddles that line of being nice, but not tooooo nice—you can come by for a cocktail at the bar or a casual bite, or have a date at one of the tables—a quality that will make it a great neighborhood hangout. The vibe over the weekend was very upbeat, with music and already a social scene at the bar. There are also a couple TV screens above the bar, so you won’t miss an important game (Gary is a big 49ers fan, and even has an off-the-menu pizza right now, the Jimmy G. More on that in a moment). The beautiful mural on the ceiling is still in place (I was pleased to see it).

They soft-opened in the beginning of the year, and chef Francesco Brevetti is just ramping up and working collaboratively to implement Rulli’s vision for what the neighborhood wants. Appetizers will highlight quality ingredients, like burrata with peperonata ($16) or San Daniele prosciutto and mozzarella ($18), along with a seasonal winter salad ($12), and pepata di cozze (sautéed mussels in tomato sauce, $16). Housemade pasta ($20-$26) is going to figure prominently—we had some wonderful tagliolini with local Dungeness crab and a light cherry tomato sauce, and a special with fresh porcini. Our neighbor’s cavatelli with burrata also looked amazing.

There are some pinsas ($18-$19), made with a soy, rice, and double-zero flour that is easier to digest (the pinsas are fired in a state-of-the-art Moretti electric oven). They come out with a spongy and raised crust with nicely developed flavor (the dough ferments for 72 hours), served on a wooden pizza peel. We had to order the Jimmy G., with ‘nduja, peperonata, burrata, green olive, and a light brushing of tomato sauce. Yes, that pizza was as sexy as its namesake. A bonus is this is the kind of pizza that travels well and warms up nicely for lunch the next day (and it’s also much easier to share than a Neapolitan-style pizza).

You’ll find a few rustic secondi, like grilled octopus and oven-roasted chicken, but be sure to save room for dessert, because don’t forget: Gary Rulli is a master of pastries! There’s the Taormina, a small tower of fried cinnamon pastry with ricotta cream layered in between, and topped with a dollop of Sicilian pistachio cream (with pistachios from Bronte). Rulli is also known for his top-notch panettone, which shows up in a bread pudding budino with vanilla cream gelato, and you will enjoy every last spoonful. Need a little something to pick you up? Get the affogato ubriaco: espresso with whiskey, espresso gelato, and cream, oh yeah. If you just want something more on the digestivo nightcap side of things, don’t miss the Whiskey Stellato, with bourbon, Cynar, sugar, five spice bitters, and egg white. That will send you home humming.

Once the pasticceria opens, Rulli plans to launch a rotating calendar of guest chefs in the restaurant, from his talented previous chefs (Angelo Auriana and Michele Belotti) to Paolo Laboa (formerly at Farina, and the master of mandilli al pesto!), and even host chefs from Italy, like Emilia Cuomo of Pastificio Cuomo in Gragnano. Because of Rulli’s pastry background, he also wants to have guests from the pastry academy in Italy.

When the pasticceria and caffè open, there’s going to be a gorgeous jewel box of a case from Italy, and guests will be able to enjoy weekend brunch on the tables outside with freshly baked pastries made that morning. Rulli also wants to offer some casual Italian street food out of the caffè.

We really enjoyed exploring the wine list (we were in such excellent hands with the dynamic and knowledgable sommelier Antonio Tartiglione, who was an opening somm at Roscioli in Rome!), which features unique and quality selections from all over Italy, from a pallagrello bianco from Fattoria Alois in Campania to a chardonnay from Vie di Romans in Friuli, and a delightful Franciacorta from Trentino: Berlucchi 61. You’ll have some fun and make some new discoveries, let them drive the bus.

Dinner is served Mon, Wed-Thu 5pm-10pm, Fri-Sat 4pm-11pm, and Sun 4pm-9pm. Closed Tue. 2300 Chestnut St. at Scott.

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Mamahuhu’s stylish dining room (designed by Studio BBA). All photos: © tablehopper.com.

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Egg rolls with housemade sweet and sour sauce.

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Kung pao chicken.

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Mushroom mapo tofu.

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Broccoli and beef.

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Some stylish details and fun artwork that ties in to the restaurant’s name (horse horse tiger tiger).

It’s time to take a new look at sweet-and-sour chicken and kung pao chicken (with “pizazzy mala peanuts”). Get fired up to try the brand-new ~MAMAHUHU~ from Brandon Jew (Mister Jiu’s), who partnered with Anmao Sun and Ben Moore on the project. This Inner Richmond, fast-casual spot is just next door to Wing Lee and across the street from Green Apple Books, a vibrant neighborhood that Jew lives in and knows well.

At Mamahuhu, Jew is taking some Chinese-American classics, like broccoli and beef, and giving them an ingredient and technique upgrade and San Francisco sourcing spin, like making a grass-fed beef gravy and adding king trumpet mushrooms to Chinese and American broccoli. As for the sweet-and-sour chicken, wait until you taste the sauce. It’s no longer a sickly-sweet and cornstarch-laden syrup with red food coloring, now made with hawthorn vinegar and honey (Jew tells me the sauce was originally made with the hawthorn berry, which gave it its red color, and is an ingredient used in Chinese medicine and herbal remedies). He’s using Mary’s chicken, which comes with an awesome rice flour coating that gets a puffy crunch (you may want to skip this one for delivery and save it for dining on-premise). You’ll also enjoy that tangy sauce with the egg rolls, which have an almost-custardy interior.

There’s an abundant serving of mushroom mapo tofu, with so much depth of flavor (thanks to the doubanjiang bean paste) and a balanced heat (with some numbing Sichuan mala action); and happy family, with wild-caught shrimp, free-range chicken, shiitake, and “stay humble veggies,” a Cantonese stir-fry dish. You could order these house specials à la carte (they range from $16-$19), or you can order any of them as a combo, with jasmine rice and wok’d greens for $15 (fried rice is $3 extra, an egg roll is $2, and supreme broth is $5). Considering Mamahuhu is located in rice plate central on Clement, it’s makes perfect sense, and is an ideal option for solo diners.

Sides include wonton soup with schmaltz ($12), a variety of vegetables ($5-$10), including mala YOLO celery ($5) with cold celery and celtuce topped with a crunchy and spicy topping that is totally like chef-driven chile crisp. The jade fried rice ($10) is more about quality than quantity (it comes in the standard smaller delivery box, not the large one), with Niman Ranch pork, wild-caught shrimp, organic egg, and kale, giving it a dark green hue.

I want to return just for the chop suey sundae ($7), with toasted rice soft-serve, Hodo soy milk, jasmine tea jelly, black sesame sago, and an almond cookie on top.

There’s also tea and tea sodas; Very, Very Far beer on draft (from Off Color Brewing); and three wines. The restaurant originally offered delivery, but is on pause while they ramp up dinner service on-site.

The 35-seat space is so charming and casual-chic, with wood booths and banquettes, vibrant artwork (look for the horse and horse and tiger and tiger, which is one meaning of “mamahuhu”—the other is “so-so”), soft-pink floors, and nice punches of color. Studio BBA is behind the eye-catching design (the space was formerly an organic produce market), which really over-delivers on the fast-casual format with so many nice materials and stylish choices. Which is just like what the food is designed to do—offer an affordable experience with the best quality, sourcing, and housemade touches. Personally, I like seeing chefs pushing and coming up with creative solutions within these kinds of budget constraints. Whether you can afford to dine at Mister Jiu’s or not, Mamahuhu is meant to be enjoyed by everyone.

The restaurant is starting with dinner service Tue-Sat 5pm-10pm (nightly service is coming soon), and will resume delivery service on Caviar, and then will launch lunch service. The opening is Wednesday January 15th. 517 Clement St. at 6th Ave.

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Chefs Laurent Gras and Joshua Skenes. Instagram photo via @jskenes.

Some quick chef updates: after a year and a half of running the show at ~SAISON~, co-owner and chef Laurent Gras announced in an Instagram post that he was moving back to New York “to be closer to my wife, family and friends.” (But first, he’s enjoying some time in the sun in Baja California.) No word on what Joshua Skenes has in mind next for Saison, whether he will be bringing in a new chef, or returning to the kitchen, but he does mention “a new experience at Saison in 2020.”

Chef Jason Fox, most recently of Commonwealth, has joined San Francisco Proper Hotel as executive chef, leading the restaurant Villon, rooftop Charmaine’s, and La Bande. Look for a unified theme of progressive California cuisine on the menus—the new bar menu at Charmaine’s features snacks and street food found around the world, while Villon will highlight his elevated cuisine style, like shrimp agnolotti with a roasted chicken dashi; Dungeness crab with Green Goddess dressing, kohlrabi, and cured egg yolk; and his potato gnocchi with mushroom and kale. The all-day restaurant will also feature breakfast, lunch, and brunch items, like overnight oats, malted barley pancakes, and a vegetarian Cuban sandwich. 45 McAllister St. at Market.

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The California hot fried chicken sandwich from Automat. Instagram photo via @automat_SF.

I still haven’t gotten over the closure of Green Chile Kitchen in NoPa—I keep thinking I’ll swing by for green chile stew, a heartland taco salad, or a breakfast burrito, and then I’m like, oh yeah, that one is long gone. It’s tough to deactivate a 14-year habit.

But now, the taker for the space has been announced: pop-up ~AUTOMAT~ from chef Matthew Kirk is going permanent. His pop-up (at various locations, like New Taraval Cafe) has been making a hot fried chicken sandwich, contemporary California tasting menus, tacos, and the $35 delivered bread box has been a hit, with pickle-spiced sourdough bagels, tomato focaccia, everything bagel sourdough, and other creative creations. Kirk was previously a sous chef at Lazy Bear, and chef-owner David Barzelay will be partnering with him on the project. Look for an opening by late fall/early winter. 1801 McAllister St. at Baker. [Via Hoodline.]

The currently closed ~THE ELITE CAFE~ is going to be the latest restaurant in Adriano Paganini’s Back of the House group (A Mano, Beretta, Delarosa, Barvale, Starbelly, Wildseed, Super Duper)—number 32, to be exact. Details are slim at the moment, but SFist mentions it will be Italian. 2049 Fillmore St. at California.

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The almond croissant at Boutique Crenn. Photo via Instagram: @boutiquecrennsf.

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Khao mun gai from Good Gai’s. Instagram photo via @eatgoodgais.

In advance of the opening of ~BOUTIQUE CRENN~ from Michelin three-star-toting Dominique Crenn in the Salesforce Tower, you can try some of their baked goods and pastries in a pop-up: Boutique Crenn X Cubert in the Salesforce Transit Center. (Cubert is from Off the Grid, a mobile and modular pop-up kitchen that looks like a kiosk.) Pastry chef Christina Hanks and head baker Jacob Fraijo are turning out some gorg-looking croissants, millefeuille, and other kinds of viennoiserie, plus canelés, and some savory items, like fougasse topped with vegetables from Crenn’s organic Sonoma County farm. Check their Instagram for updates. And eye candy. Available Mon-Fri 7am-2pm. 425 Mission St. at Fremont.

Noodle lovers will be intrigued with this build-your-own-bowl concept called ~QINGSHU~, which opened in the Sunset. It’s inspired by malatang, a dish and dining format from China that is almost like an individual hot pot. You select your ingredients (vegetables, meat, seafood, different kinds of tofu, and noodles) and pay by the pound ($7.99/lb.), pay for any additional premium ingredients like shrimp or beef, choose your soup base, and the ingredients are cooked for you and brought to your table. Sounds like a fun thing to check out! Open Mon-Sat 11am-3pm and 5pm-9pm, Sun 12pm-8pm. 816 Irving St. at 9th Ave.

I’m a huge fan of khao mun gai, and there’s a new window serving this classic dish (Hainan chicken rice) from the folks behind The Chairman truck. It’s called ~GOOD GAI’S~ (LOL) and the shop is in Bayview. Hours for now are Tue-Thu 11:30am-3pm for take-out, so if you work or live nearby, here’s a new lunch option for ya. 2723 Oakdale Ave. at Barneveld.

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Meet the new lineup of breakfast tacos at weekend brunch at Tacolicious on Valencia. Photo: Gregory Wells.

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The Que Chido (fried egg, bacon and crispy hash brown taco with a salsa roja). Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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Jugo verde at Tacolicious. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

After being closed for a seismic upgrade and renovations—while Van Ness Avenue continues to be torn up and a complete disaster—~HELMAND PALACE~ has reopened. The dining room got an update, as well as the exterior. Show them some support and head in for their famed kaddo! The restaurant has been open since 1971. 2424 Van Ness Ave. at Green.

Breakfast tacos are a holy grail, and especially Austin-style breakfast tacos, the benchmark! Fortunately for us, ~TACOLICIOUS~ has just launched a weekend brunch menu of six kinds of breakfast tacos, and they even took an R&D trip to Austin. You’ll find the Tejana, with migas (with crispy tortilla strips cooked into egg), roasted poblano, and a creamy, emulsified jalapeño salsa, inspired by the popular Salsa Dona at Taco Deli (this was one of our absolute favorites); El Gabacho, with scrambled egg, avocado, and crazy-delicious bacon jam they make in-house, which I told them they need to start selling stat; and Que Chido, with fried egg, bacon, and crispy hash browns with a salsa roja (great texture).

You can get fancy with La Fresa (filet mignon and fried quail egg with salsa macha, so good with the beef!), and there’s a vegan offering, and a classic El Mexicano with scrambled egg, housemade chorizo, and potato. The flour tortillas (with some corn) were on point, and Tacolicious really rocks the salsas. I say bring a friend, order all six, and split ‘em up like we did! Tacos are $4.50 for 1, $16 for 4, and $36 for 10.

You can perk up with their horchata and cold brew combo, and I felt somewhat healthy with my jugo verde (kale, pineapple, and mint juice), until I took another bite of the bacon jam. Ha! There are brunch cocktails, including a michelada, always a winner. Served Sat-Sun 10am-3pm. At the Mission District location at 748 Valencia St. only for now; the Marina location will launch the taco menu and 10am weekend brunch on January 25th.

There have been some changes over at ~1760~, which has a new menu format that is a three-course tasting menu for just $39. A new region or culture or cuisine will drive the rotating menu every three months or so, with some comfort food inspiration too. Right now, they’re starting with Tuscany, serving three courses of wintertime dishes, with an additional pasta course available for $10, and the option for wine or cocktail pairings. (If you desire a vegetarian option, they will be complete dishes, not just the original dish with the protein removed.) If you have some 1760 favorites, fret not, because the bar menu will remain à la carte!

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Mijita tamales. Photo © FrankenyImages.com.

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BSK’s impeccable waffles (at its original location). Yelp photo by Pei K.

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Meraki Market. All photos: © tablehopper.com.

It’s a new year, with a fresh round of closures that totally sucks. Over at the Ferry Building, Traci Des Jardins has shuttered ~MIJITA~ after serving her amazing chilaquiles there for 15 years. The Chronicle reports she was at the end of her lease, and may repeat the concept somewhere else, but that’s TBD. She reportedly has another Mexican restaurant concept in the works, so we’ll need to stand by on that; she will continue to be part of The Commissary, Arguello, School Night, and Public House.

And just after one year of business, Tanya Holland is closing the Ferry Building location of ~BROWN SUGAR KITCHEN~ after service on Sunday January 19th. It’s a shame to lose the first and only black female-owned business in the Ferry Building Marketplace. She’s going to be focusing her attention on her Oakland location, and her post on Instagram alludes to more to come.

I received a tip a few weeks ago that things were strange at ~CAFE FLORE~ in the Castro, with diminished hours, erratic hours of closure, and more. And how sad: after 47 years of serving as an iconic location in The City, the café closed over the holidays and is moving to an events-only concept. Of late, the food (and cocktails) have not been been where they used to be, or should be—but man, with the right operator, that place should be humming. It’s a damn shame. I hope someone with some money steps in, buys the location, does the upgrades it needs, and does it right. It’s too iconic, and beloved by so many for being the Castro’s alfresco living room, since 1973! 2298 Market St. at Noe.

Another icon has closed: after 25 years on Valencia, ~BURGER JOINT~ has thrown in the dish towel. The building was going through a retrofit, but it looks like they don’t want to wait it out. 807 Valencia St. at 19th St.

And it just keeps on unraveling: ~FRINGALE~ in SoMa is closing on January 25th—it opened in 1991. I remember dining there often when Gerald Hirigoyen was the chef (the restaurant had the most amazing sweetbreads). In the Chronicle piece, current owner Jean-Marie Legendre cites the endless construction on Fourth Street and the changing lunch habits of the local tech workforce as the primary reasons for closing. 28 years, what a run. 570 4th St. at Brannan.

Lower Nob Hill residents who liked the quality food and groceries at ~MERAKI MARKET~ are bemoaning its sudden closure. I wrote in to owner Stanlee Gatti for an update on what’s next—the site mentions a “restructuring,” but who knows what that may mean. [Via Hoodline.]

In the temporary closure department: the newly open ~GOZU~ remains closed after a small fire on New Year’s Eve. A note from the restaurant states: “On New Year’s Eve (December 31, 2019), there was a small fire at Ittoryu Gozu. The fire department came instantly and no one was injured. The majority of the space is in good condition, however we will need some time to rebuild our hearth—the main feature and element of our robatayaki-inspired restaurant.

“The fire was not due to any wrongdoing by the Gozu team, but was due to a structural issue. The restaurant employees, the building’s staff, and city officials have stepped up to handle this unfortunate situation. As we learn more about the damages, we will share with our community, but do not foresee being closed beyond two months.

“During this time, our incredible team that we have built over the last couple of months, will come together and positively impact the community by further refining and evolving our vision to be stronger than before. Please stay tuned!”

Another temporary closure is ~SOUVLA~ Hayes Valley, which is closed through January 27th for renovations. But they thought of everything, and parked the Souvla truck at PROXY, where you can order almost all of Souvla’s menu from 11am-10pm daily.

December 17, 2019
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Get ready to taste seven kinds of crab at M.Y. China for the tablehopper crabtastic holiday supper! Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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You ready to get crackin’? Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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The magical crab menu at M.Y. China. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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We will also enjoy many additional dishes, like M.Y. China’s Shandong beef roll. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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We will enjoy a special tasting of Tercet from Rémy Martin at our crab and Cognac feast!

SORRY EVERYONE, THIS EVENT SOLD OUT IN 90 MINUTES! THANKS FOR YOUR INTEREST! A couple weeks ago, I posted some pics from an ~M.Y. CHINA~ media dinner I attended, celebrating the restaurant’s seventh birthday with an over-the-top menu of seven different preparations of crab. It was one of the most delicious meals I’ve had in a while, and I got to thinkin’, “Wouldn’t it be fun to recreate it for my readers for a tablehopper holiday supper?” The answer is oh hell yes!

Over the years, I’ve so enjoyed hosting holiday meals during that quieter week between Christmas and New Year’s—it’s perfect for those of you who have family in town and are looking for something fun to do. So mark your calendar and get your ticket stat: Saturday December 28th is the tablehopper Crabtastic Holiday Supper with M.Y. China!

And since it’s the holidays, we need to make this supper extra-special—so how about a crab and cognac supper? That’s right, we’re partnering with Rémy Martin on a very memorable evening, featuring cocktails and tastings from their Cognac portfolio. We’ll enjoy cocktail pairings with 1738 Accord Royal, XO Cognac Fine Champagne, and a tasting of Tercet, made from three talents: the wine master, the master distiller, and the cellar master!

The family-style feast is going to feature quite the abundant menu, highlighting all seven preparations of crab on M.Y. China’s crab celebration menu (get ready to eat with your hands!), plus many off-menu dishes, including some fun dim sum, because you are so VIP. And just wait until you see the show-stopping dessert (executive chef Tony Wu puts on a show!). And all of it with Cognac cocktails and pairings? So over the top. You ready?

Appetizers:
scallop shiu mai XO sauce (off the menu)
flower crispy shrimp with mango yolk (off the menu)
Shandong beef roll
crispy har gow (off the menu)

The Seven Kinds of Crab:
forbidden golden garlic steam crab
salted egg yolk crab
chili pepper crab
coconut curry crab
Jiangxi spicy crab
sweet tamarind crab
typhoon garlic dusted crab

Sweet and sour pork and Tercet tasting

Sides:
Sichuan green beans
Wild boar scissor-cut noodles
(brown or white rice by request)

Dessert:
ice cream/sugar egg puff/sugar cloud (off the menu)

Cocktail pairings and Tercet tasting provided by Rémy Martin.

The menu is subject to change, but this is the general awesome plan. Sorry, but dietary restrictions and modifications cannot be accommodated for this evening’s menu.

SORRY EVERYONE, THIS EVENT SOLD OUT IN 90 MINUTES! THANKS FOR YOUR INTEREST!

Dinner will begin at 6pm. Since Rémy Martin is so generously hosting us, the ticket for this crabtastic and Cognac-tastic feast is only $99, all-inclusive. I know, unbelievable. Happy Holidays! We only have a limited number of 20 seats for this supper, so get your ticket ASAP.

We will also be making a donation to the San Francisco-Marin Food Bank, we are so appreciative of everything they do to make sure people are fed for the holidays, and every other day of the year.

If you’re sad you will be out of town during this supper (sniff sniff), please know you can still come to M.Y. China and enjoy selections from their crab menu through January 17th.

M.Y. China
Westfield San Francisco Centre
Restaurant Collection Under the Dome
845 Market St., Suite 480
San Francisco, CA

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Chef Timothy Hollingsworth is opening All These Years in SF. Photo: Sierra Prescott.

Big news that came in (just before I was going to send this out!): chef Timothy Hollingsworth (known for his 13 years at The French Laundry, and now his restaurant Otium in LA) is returning to the Bay Area with his restaurant, ~ALL THESE YEARS~, opening in San Francisco in spring 2020.

He’s moving into the now former Ayala next to the Hotel G (I was so sad to learn that chef Melissa Perfit had moved on when she came to shuck at my High Ho Silver party last month, I loved so many of her dishes at Ayala!). All These Years will be “a contemporary restaurant that celebrates America’s diverse food culture.” Stand by for more in the New Year. 398 Geary St. at Mason.

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A fully loaded bowl at A Bowl of Chicken Soup and Rice Noodles in the Tenderloin. Photo via owner on Yelp.

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A selection of dishes (basil eggplant, green onion pancake, hot and sour soup) at the new YH-Beijing. Yelp photo by Aselya A.

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Lasagne bolognese at Tortellino. Instagram photo via @tortellino_SF.

There are a bunch of brand-new and affordable openings that caught my eye for us to check out (let me know any winners!).

You gotta love a place called ~A BOWL OF CHICKEN SOUP AND RICE NOODLES~. You can choose your own noodles and toppings (including beef and seafood options), and the restaurant is actually offering more than just chicken soup and noodles—there’s a bunch of appetizers on the Chinese menu as well, including fried salt-and-pepper chicken wings (or calamari, or prawns), roast duck, and many vegetable sides. Seems like the perfect season for this Tenderloin restaurant to open (it took over the former Eden Silk Road Cuisine). Open Wed-Sun 11:30am-9:30pm, Mon 11:30am-8:30pm. 572 O’Farrell St. at Jones.

If you’re looking for Cantonese classics, Hong Kong clay pot rice, congee, cheung fun (rice noodle rolls), and other dim sum dishes, there’s a new place in the Inner Richmond to check out: ~WEI GUO HOUSE~. Open Tue-Sun 11:30am-3pm and 5pm-9:30pm. 3751 Geary Blvd. at 2nd Ave.

If you want to warm up over some Korean soups, stews, and ssam, there’s the brand-new ~SF HONEYPIG~, offering lunch specials starting at $9.99, and Korean BBQ for dinner, plus hot stone dishes, and some serious combo dinners. Open daily 11am-10pm. 4217 Geary Blvd. at 7th Ave.

Across the Park, ~ROSE INDIAN CUISINE~, offering mostly classic Northern Indian dishes on the menu, with different kinds of pakoras, plus some Himalayan dishes (momos) too. The breads look especially interesting, with some unique parathas and naan. Open daily 10:30am-10pm. 1386 9th Ave. at Judah.

Fans of the General Tso’s chicken at the former Wonderland in the Lower Haight, fear not. A new restaurant has taken its place, ~YH-BEIJING~, with a sleek new exterior and interior, but the chef-owner is reportedly the same. Look for a new dim sum menu (with some trendy xiao long bao wrappers in different colors), Beijing-style dim sum and dishes, and some of the old-school Wonderland favorites. Open daily 11am-3pm and 4:30pm-9:30pm and Sat-Sun 11am-9:30pm. 500 Haight St. at Fillmore.

The former Tawla space in the Mission is now ~SUSHI SHIO~, offering omakase (what else?) but with a Korean touch (from chef Alex Kim of Sushi Hon on Harrison). Open Sun-Thu 5:30pm-10:30pm, Fri-Sat 5pm-10:30pm. 206 Valencia St. at Duboce.

Further down Valencia is the new ~YASMIN~, a Mediterranean spot from the kind Syrian owners of Palmyra in the Lower Haight (now open in the former Ali Baba’s Cave). What this means is awesome, freshly made falafel (get the plate, it’s better than the wrap), rotisserie chicken (you can get a whole chicken for $14), kabobs, kibbeh, wraps, salads, and more. Open daily 11am-11pm, and until 2am Fri-Sat. 799 Valencia St. at 18th St.

There’s also a new Mediterranean spot in Russian Hill: ~SUMAC~, serving Istanbul street food (meets California love for wraps, rice bowls, and salads). You can check the menu here. Open daily 11am-9pm (until 10pm Fri-Sun). 1096 Union St. at Leavenworth St.

I’ll never understand why it’s so hard to find classic tortellini (filled with meat, screw all the cheese-filled ones, seriously), but the new ~TORTELLINO~ counter inside Market Hall lives up to its name, making authentic meat-filled tortellini (with mortadella!), and offering them in brodo (one of my top ten favorite dishes, ever), or in two kinds of sauce.

They’re making other dishes as well, like housemade lasagne bolognese, tagliatelle, gnocchi, and more. You know they’re truly Italian because they’re serving tomato bruschetta in the height of winter, LOL (that always makes me laugh—our Cal-Ital chefs would never!). The owner started the biz in Bologna, with three locations in Northern Italy. Open daily 11am-9pm. 1355 Market St. at 9th St.

Fans of Tropisueño should know they’ve opened a sister location, ~COCOSUEÑO~ in the former Straits on the 4th Floor Under the Dome at the Westfield Shopping Centre. You can peep the extensive menu here, which includes ceviches, soups, and their famed chile verde in larger plates, plus tacos, enchiladas, and tamales. And a full bar (which will come in handy after a day of holiday shopping). It’s more of a casual taqueria by day, and sit-down restaurant at night. Open daily 10am-8:30pm, and Sun 11am-7pm.

And last but certainly not least, Bayview/Hunter’s Point/India Basin has a new café, ~CAFÉ ALMA~, from Kristin Houk of All Good Pizza and Tato. There’s an all-day menu of breakfast sandwiches, fresh salads, panini, smoothies, and soups, with a full coffee bar. The space is spacious (5,000 square feet!), and is designed to host events, guest chefs, workshops, pop-ups, community gatherings, and more. Open Tue-Fri 7am-3pm, Sat 8am-3pm. 888 Innes Ave. at Griffith.

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The good-for-all-seasons Fat Angel in the Fillmore is closing after ten years. Instagram photo via @fatangelsf.

This is going to have many people crying into their Hazy IPA: after ten years in business in the Fillmore, ~FAT ANGEL~ is calling it quits. I spoke with owner Jason Kirmse (who was also a player in the Hi Neighbor Hospitality Group), who says the decision to close wasn’t due to an all-too-common bad landlord situation (for once). He says it was time for a change—it was a great run, and now he’s considering other things to do. There’s a new tenant taking over the space, to be revealed soon. And great news: the Hi Neighbor Group will be absorbing their great staff at their other restaurant locations.

The last night you can get their famed pot pie (and kale salad) is on New Year’s Eve, when they will go out with a bang (expect some extra-special touches). Thanks to Jason and the team for providing people such a great first date spot, and a welcoming place for a beer (or wine) and bite all these years. 1740 O’Farrell St. at Fillmore St.

Also in the ten-year/it-has-been-a-good-run camp: after incubating numerous small food businesses in Bernal, ~331 CORTLAND MARKETPLACE~ is calling it quits. You can read more on the owner’s non-food plans in this Hoodline piece.

After years of giggling over the name as I drive by it (try 22 years!), ~SQUAT & GOBBLE~ in the Castro has closed, and Hoodline reports a second location of owner Issa Sweidan’s Bonita Taqueria y Rotisserie will be moving in come early 2020 (the first location is in the Marina). Look for some pretty tasty-looking rotisserie chicken. The other locations of Squat & Gobble remain open in West Portal and the Marina, FYI, so you can still laugh with me. 3600 16th St. at Market.

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Some of the popular brunch dishes at Cassava. Photo courtesy of Cassava.

Looking for a new, cozy spot for dinner? ~LE MARAIS CASTRO~ has just added dinner service, offering their everyday French classic dishes (French onion soup, Lyonnaise salad, croque monsieur, rotisserie chicken, boudin blanc, frites), plus a few weekend specials, like poulet pané (pan-fried chicken) and bœuf bourguignon. Plus they have wine, beer, and low-ABV beverages! They look forward to feeding the neighborhood! Dîner Wed-Sun 5pm-9pm. 498 Sanchez St. at 18th St.

Fans of ~CASSAVA~ can now enjoy their awesome brunch six days a week! Get their popular fried chicken sandwich, veggie rice bowl, and Japanese breakfast from 10am-2:15pm both on weekdays and weekends (but closed Tue)! And they now accept brunch reservations throughout the week. 3519 Balboa St. at 36th Ave.

Have you had a chance to enjoy the delicious Detroit-style pizza (and salads!) at ~SQUARE PIE GUYS~ in SoMa yet? They recently launched weekday lunch service, and added a new format (a selection of five different personal pizzas per day, with one rotating daily) and new dishes to the menu: Calabrese Hot Chicken Sandwich (I love their Buffalo chicken parm sandwich), a Papa Boach Salad (roasted kabocha squash, marinated cauliflower, arugula, green olives, and a red curry coconut vinaigrette), and the Square-Waiian Pizza (sliced ham, pickled red onion and jalapeño, pineapple). Hours are Tue-Fri 11:30am-2pm and 4:30pm-10pm, and they open at 4pm on Sat. 1077 Mission St. at 7th St.

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Dungeness crabs at Scoma’s. Photo by Mathew Sumner.

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White truffle. Flickr photo from Erika Kerekes.

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The interior at Frances. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Holidays in SF mean it’s time for fresh, local Dungeness crab (finally, it’s here!). Of course, you can try to squeeze in to the counter at ~SWAN OYSTER DEPOT~ (go early and midweek!), a booth at ~SAM’S GRILL AND SEAFOOD RESTAURANT~, and ~HAYES STREET GRILL~ offers a half-cracked crab and salad on the menu at lunch (open for lunch this weekend and Christmas Eve!) and dinner. (Do note they are closed Jan 1-6.)

Another classic (35 years and counting!) is ~PIER 23 CAFE RESTAURANT & BAR~, which serves a whole Dungeness crab—it’s oven roasted and smothered in garlic, lemon, California white wine, and lots of butter (chef Bryan Baker utilizes the crab roe and fat in the broth for a richer flavor). Market price is $60 right now. Enjoy a view from the heated outdoor waterside patio and some live music.

If you can’t make it down to Pillar Point Harbor and pick them up off the boats, I’m a big fan of visiting “the girls” at ~ALIOTO-LAZIO FISH COMPANY~ on the Wharf in the morning.And ~SCOMA’S~ offers a service where you can order their regular or jumbo holiday crab online and have it packed up and ready to be picked up at a certain time. (Just park by the fish receiving station and pick up at the host stand.)

Next! It’s latke season, which means ~DELFINA~ is serving up their two versions from Sunday December 22nd through the 30th, plus some other “Jew-ish” holiday treats alongside their regular menu. And at their sister restaurant ~LOCANDA~, don’t forget the Feast of the Seven Fishes is happening on Christmas Eve, check it out.

More latkes: ~ONE MARKET~ is serving chef Mark Dommen’s famous crispy latkes with housemade apple sauce and sour cream—the restaurant will be open 12/23, 12/27, and 12/28 during the holiday. Wine director Tonya Pitts will definitely pour you some fab bubbles to go with them.

Both locations of ~FIORELLA~ on Polk and Clement are serving some Hanukkah dishes à la carte: latkes with crème fraîche and quince butter, roasted beet salad, chicken matzo ball soup, beef brisket with wild mushroom noodle kugel, and nut and date coins. (From December 22nd-30th.)

~PLÄJ~ in Hayes Valley is serving a traditional Swedish Christmas Julbord menu this Sunday December 22nd for $85/person. Make your reservation!

Have you enjoyed any white truffles yet? I’ve been working so much I haven’t made it out for any yet! One of my favorite places to enjoy this seasonal treat is ~PERBACCO~, which offers a variety of classic Piemontese dishes, with five grams of white truffles shaved tableside. Available during dinner service through December 24th.

I thought this looked cool: on January 26th, Passalacqua Winery is partnering with Relish Culinary Adventures for a special wild mushroom foray and luncheon in Healdsburg. In the hills above Sonoma County, learn the fundamentals of edible wild mushroom foraging. Following the hillside excursion, return to Relish for a cooking demonstration and discussion on techniques for storing, handling, and cooking a variety of fresh and dry/wild and cultivated mushrooms. Guests will enjoy a three-course wild mushroom lunch, with guided wine pairings from Passalacqua Winery, led by winemaker Jessica Boone. Tickets available on Relishculinary.com (there are some other dates too!), $154 per person. Healdsburg.

Something to look forward to in the New Year: ~FRANCES~ started celebrating their tenth anniversary (!) with a series of dinners, featuring a star-studded line-up of guest chefs, sommeliers, and winemakers. Sponsored by OpenTable, Frances’ Tenth Anniversary Dinner Series will showcase women in the industry that have made an impact on chef-owner Melissa Perello and her teams at Frances, Octavia, and the newly opened M. Georgina in Los Angeles, with each dinner in the series benefitting a charity. Perello and team have a goal of raising $50,000 for all charities. Each dinner is limited to 40 guests and will feature a Champagne reception, followed by a multi-course collaborative menu with wine pairings for $250/person, including tax and service.

Wednesday January 8th is with chef and author Anita Lo with sommelier Belinda Chang, benefiting Women Chefs and Restaurateurs and Dress For Success; Tuesday January 21st is with Renee Erickson (chef, author, and co-owner of The Walrus and the Carpenter, The Whale Wins, and more) with Master Sommelier and Vice President of Wine & Beverage Experience, Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants, Emily Wines, benefitting Wild Fish Conservancy; Monday January 27th is Kim Alter (chef/owner, Nightbird, Linden Room, San Francisco) with Kathryn Coker (Rustic Canyon Family Wine Director & Esters Co-Owner) benefitting Corazon Healdsburg; Tuesday January 28th is with Gabriela Cámara (restaurateur, chef, and author; Contramar, Mexico City; Cala; Onda, Santa Monica) and Jessica Koslow (chef and author, SQIRL, Los Angeles; Onda, Santa Monica)…the list of amazing women goes on! Click through to see the incredible lineup of talent and book your reservation!