The Chatterbox

Gossip & News (the word on the street)
March 21, 2017
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A rendering of the interior of Noon All Day. Courtesy of Sagan Piechota Architecture.

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A rendering of the counter area of Noon All Day. Courtesy of Sagan Piechota Architecture.

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A rendering of the exterior of the building and plaza.

Some great news for Dogpatch—the Piccino family (owners Margherita Stewart Sagan and Sher Rogat and director of operations Kerry Glancy) are busy working on the opening of a new project, ~NOON ALL DAY~, slated to open this summer at 690 Indiana. It will be flanking Esprit Park and the upcoming Dogpatch Arts Plaza, a dead-end street being converted into an arts-focused public pedestrian plaza (at 19th and Indiana) by Build Public, a local nonprofit committed to designing and developing more public spaces. Music, a farmers’ market, and more are also being programmed for the plaza. The location is also conveniently close to the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital and will be a godsend for the many doctors, residents, patients, and visitors.

The space is just 1,1100 square feet—full of glass windows and opening out onto the plaza—and will have around 65 seats. There will be a full kitchen, so it’s almost like a mini restaurant with coffee service. The small and focused menu will be market fresh and seasonal (some ingredients will be coming from a mini farm up in Healdsburg), with six to eight rotating items that will be taking easy inspiration from many cultures, from a curry clay pot dish to fried rice to za’atar making an appearance. There will be braises and homey favorites like chicken soup stracciatella with egg—they’re also taking the famed Piccino meatballs and working on a mini meatball pocket sandwich. Look for special baked things as well: one item they are developing is a seedy and bready cylinder with a runny egg inside.

Leading the kitchen is a blast from the past: Carlo Espinas—who opened the original Piccino as a cook—is back in SF and excited to work with the ladies again. (He’s currently working on menu testing in the Piccino kitchen.)

Hospitality is a big component of the experience—they will have a concierge at the entrance who will facilitate your order. (This person will help direct people to order at the counter, or maybe a guest just wants to pay for an espresso and go pick it up at the coffee counter.) Food will be brought to your table via food runners who will know the ingredients well. There will additionally be an app, which people can order directly from, and have a lunch or afternoon snack delivered, or dinner to take home.

The name is inspired by the fact that noon is often a reset time, a moment to recharge and take a breath, but this place will give you that feeling all day, whether you are coming by for coffee and pastry in the morning or some soft-serve ice cream with housemade toppings in the afternoon. The space (by Sagan Piechota Architecture) is bright and airy, with lots of glass and light wood and pendant lights. There will be a herringbone concrete-tile floor, a counter for seating (along with tables and chairs), and there’s a custom 10-foot refrigerated case with different temperature zones wrapped in marble (it will have some grab-and-go items). Beer and wine will be available, and they are hoping to secure a license for off-premise sales as well, so you can bring that bottle of rosé home that you like so much.

They are hoping to open in the summer, perhaps June or July. Hours will be 6am-8pm daily. In the meantime, you can follow their progress on Instagram at @noonallday. 690 Indiana St. at 19th St.

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Nigiri will be on the menu at Kuma. Photo via Kuma on Feastly.

If you have ever had the opportunity to sit at chef Ryo Sakai’s counter while he was making sushi at the now-closed Pink Zebra or at Domo in Hayes Valley, you’ll be happy to hear he has partnered with longtime friend Cory Jackson to open a restaurant for the first time together (they started working together years ago at Blowfish): ~KUMA SUSHI + SAKE~.

Kuma will be opening in May at Polk and Post in a former Western Union, and they want to be a neighborhood sushi restaurant that can work for all kinds of budgets. Guests can order à la carte or omakase (4, 8, or 12 courses), and they will even offer vegetarian selections. There will be a strong focus on local seafood (from TwoXSea), with some fish sourced from Japan as well. Dishes will be creative and feature some fun touches, like ochazuke (tea-infused dashi stock poured over rice and kombu-cured fluke) and a spin on chawanmushi with smoked goat cheese. House-fermented pickles will also play a part. (The name means “bear”—Jackson collects little animal figures, and it’s also in homage to the California bear, which has a taste for salmon.)

The 25-seat space is pretty intimate—they’ll actually just start with 18 seats, and it will be walk-in only (no reservations). The spacious bar has 11-12 seats, so guests will be able to enjoy a lot of interaction with the two chefs. The counter will feature an inset sushi case that is lower than usual so guests can see inside. The overall design will be warm and inviting, with natural colors, wood, and galvanized steel, plus there are high ceilings. They will be curing the wood at the front entrance through shou sugi ban, a Japanese technique of charring and preserving wood.

There will be both local and Japanese beers, plus wine and a frequently changing list of sakes. Look for some purposefully affordable picks on the beer list.

Right now they are doing some preview dinners and menu testing on Feastly. The two current dinners are sold out, but keep an eye out for future dates. And I’ll keep you posted on their opening. 1040 Polk St. at Post.

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A look inside Little Taqueria in the Inner Richmond. Photo via Facebook.

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A selection of dishes from Pushkin in the FiDi. Photo via Yelp.

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The Epicurean Trader’s new location in Cow Hollow. Photo via Instagram.

There are a couple of new taquerias that have opened up, starting with ~LITTLE TAQUERIA~ in the Inner Richmond. Tacos are $3.50 each, burritos are $9, and platos are $11 (served with rice and beans). You can peek at a menu here, which lists options like slow-simmered beef, lechon (braised sour-orange pork), ground beef with potato, and seasonal vegetables. It has a few counter seats, but true to its name, it’s little, so plan on takeout instead. Hours are daily 11am-4pm. 200 6th Ave. at Cornwall, 415-463-2506.

In SoMa, ~EL CAPITAN TAQUERIA~ has opened its doors in the former Citizen’s Band, serving traditional tacos, burritos, tortas, and quesadillas, plus sandwiches, burgers, special plates, and breakfast burritos all day. Menu here. Hours are Mon-Fri 10:30am-10pm, Fri-Sat 11:30am-11pm, Sun 11:30am-5pm. 1123 Folsom St. at 8th St., 415-525-3676.

Downtown workers who love pirojki will want to track down ~PUSHKIN~ in the International Food Court. The menu lists borscht; split pea soup; beef, chicken, or potato and fried onion vareniki (dumplings); and baked Ukrainean pirojki (like chicken and mushroom, pepperoni, beef, spinach and feta). Hours are Mon-Fri 10am-3pm. 380 Bush St. at Kearny, 415-610-9456.

Last December, I mentioned ~THE EPICUREAN TRADER~ was expanding to Cow Hollow with its second location, and it’s now open. You can swing by for everything from craft spirits to gourmet cheese and charcuterie, plus fresh bread from Tartine Bakery (!!), small-production wines, small-batch coffee, hand-blended teas and spices, craft chocolates, oils and vinegars, and other artisanal pantry items. 1909 Union St. at Laguna.

Ice cream, all over da place! ~SMITTEN ICE CREAM~ is opening a new shop in the Mission this Thursday March 23rd, which is when you’ll want to swing by for “Pay What You’d Like” on opening day (proceeds benefit La Cocina). Look for limited-edition collaboration flavors to roll out from three local Mission businesses: Samovar Tea Lounge (turmeric gold latte), Mission Cheese (chèvre and apricots), and Dandelion Chocolate (Mission hot chocolate). Each flavor will be on the menu for three weeks. Don’t forget all Smitten ice creams are churned to order on their one-of-a-kind, patented Brrr ice cream machine. 904 and 908 Valencia St. at 20th St.

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Maybe you love cocktails. (If you’re reading this column, that’s likely.) Maybe you love cocktail books, and even better, vintage ones. Well, on Sunday March 26th, you can have it all at Tipple & Snack, a vintage cocktail book fair and party courtesy of ~OMNIVORE BOOKS~, to be held on the fabulous ~BAR AGRICOLE~ patio.

You’ll be able to peruse unique books covering cocktails from many different eras, all while having unlimited cocktails (yes!) and some snacks too. What kinds of snacks, you ask? How about Gulf shrimp deviled eggs with spring herbs, and chorizo with chimichurri, and fried cauliflower with tartare sauce? All that and more. (Just don’t touch the vintage books with greasy fingers or Celia will want a word with you.)

You’ll also be able to pick up a few of the fun tablehopper T-shirts featuring vintage San Francisco bars, from Tippy’s to Cross Roads, both as regular T-shirts and ultra-soft baseball tees. They’ll be just $20 each!

This afternoon event is only $25; tickets here. Sunday March 26th, 3pm-5pm. Bar Agricole, 355 11th St. between Folsom and Harrison.

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The beautiful new Andytown café on Taraval. Photo via @andytownsf.

The Outer Sunset gained a second location of ~ANDYTOWN COFFEE ROASTERS~ over the weekend on Taraval, less than two blocks from the beach. Look for a Kees Van Der Westen Spirit espresso machine, big-batch drip coffee, and a pour-over bar featuring St. Anthony Industries drippers. Fresh pastries, soda bread, and Snowy Plovers for everyone! Not only is this their second café, but owners Lauren Crabbe and Michael McCrory have also moved their roasting operation to a separate location, which means there’s more space at both cafés. Guests can tour and visit the roastery for tastings, as well as buy beans retail and other coffee supplies. The café is open daily 7am-5pm at 3629 Taraval St. at 46th Ave., and the roastery is open Wed-Fri 7am-12pm and Sat-Sun 7am-3pm at 3016 Taraval St. at 40th Ave. [Via Hoodline.]

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The exterior of Mamacita. Photo via Facebook.

A sudden closure this past week was ~MAMACITA~ on Chestnut, after 12 years of business. Partners Stryker Scales and chef Sam Josi will reportedly be coming up with another concept for the space, while partner Nate Valentine has moved on to his own new project, August Hall.

I was reading one of my weekly Nextdoor neighborhood updates and learned ~THE CORNER STORE~ in Anza Vista/Laurel Heights has closed after five years in business. You can read their farewell note on Facebook. Their burger and butterscotch pudding will be missed by many regulars.

Tablehopper tipster Jason B. sent along a pic of a farewell letter from ~POLKER’S~, which is closing because they lost their lease after more than 20 years on Polk. The sign mentions their last day is April 2nd, and the East Bay’s Troy Greek will be moving in with a fourth location, their first in SF. 2226 Polk St. at Vallejo.

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Cassava. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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An al pastor taco from Glena’s. Photo via Instagram.

There’s nothing like seeing a community rally for a beloved neighborhood restaurant. After the owners of ~CASSAVA BAKERY + CAFÉ~ placed a call for help (they ran into some debt from their recent expansion, and winter sales were slow), their customers and friends have sprung into action, contributing $34K of their $50K GoFundMe goal in five days! An article on Hoodline even mentions their landlord offered a cash donation or temporary rent discount, amazing, and neighboring restaurants and businesses have also contributed. They could still use your help, so please consider contributing to their fundraiser (any money you donate is applied to a meal!), or come by for brunch or a midweek dinner soon. Best to you, Yuka and Kris—you’re gonna make it through!

Haven’t been able to make it over to ~GLENA’S~ in Dogpatch for tacos and pozole for lunch yet? Owners Michael and Stephanie Gaines are ready to welcome you over for dinner now too. The liquor license is still a couple of weeks out, FYI—margaritas are imminent! Sun-Thu 11am-10pm, Fri-Sat 11am-11pm. 632 20th St. at 3rd St., 415-800-7415.

Congrats to chef Ryan Pollnow (Aatxe), who is now executive chef of Ne Timeas Restaurant Group, while chef Thomas McNaughton is now CEO and culinary director. Pollnow will provide creative and operational direction for Central Kitchen, Salumeria, and Flour + Water, in addition to Aatxe.

March 14, 2017
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The original raw space (and huge windows) at City Counter. Photo via Facebook.

Coming to downtown is ~CITY COUNTER~, a new daytime luncheonette inspired by classic Woolworth’s-style lunch counters, with an updated sensibility. Founder Harper Matheson is a San Francisco native, but was previously busy in New York working as a dancer and a restaurant hostess (a classic combination!), and then in management at places like Tia Pol, Char No. 4, and Maysville—she really fell in love with the restaurant industry. She also was working locally with Doug Washington on Grand Fare.

She is bringing on Blue Plate’s Sean Thomas as consulting chef. He’s building a menu that updates the American diner to 2017, one that reflects many backgrounds and food traditions, and Thomas’s globe-trotting food speaks to that. Dishes will be approachable and nostalgic, but New American and creative. Knowing Thomas’s freestyle ways, you can expect sandwiches and salads with captivating flavors. A few potential dishes he’s tinkering with are a Spanish tortilla sandwich with ‘nduja; licorice-braised pork served like a chashu burger; a salt cod croque; and a crispy greens salad with two kinds of rice, fried chickpeas, chorizo, and an egg.

Lunch service can be to stay or to go, and delivery and catering will be a big part of the plan (they plan to have their own online ordering platform). Happy hour will also be a focus, offering a cool space to go after work for a bite and an approachably priced glass of wine.

It’s a beautiful location in the Standard Oil Building (and just next door to Blue Bottle), and Matheson is excited to integrate the building’s Deco details. The counter itself is made of stone and 40 feet long, with 30 seats—it will have a big curve, and rest on steel posts that make it seem like it’s floating. A woodworker in Connecticut is making the stools, which will be simple and white. The 1,400-square-foot space also has four bay windows, which will have built-in bench seating and tables. Architect Nickie Huang will be balancing classic details, while keeping things current. Shawna Peterson, a neon artist in Oakland, is going to produce the City Counter monogram in hot pink neon for the space.

They are gunning to open in May, with hours Mon-Fri 11am-7pm. I’ll keep you posted on the menu and can’t wait to survey the interior before it opens. 115 Sansome St. at Bush.

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The namesake medianoche at Media Noche. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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Cubano love at Media Noche. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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Media Noche’s counter (where you order). Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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Picadillo empanadas. Photo: Molly DeCoudreaux.

I have been tracking the opening of ~MEDIA NOCHE~ since I saw the first pic of their Cubano on Instagram and am so happy to report they are open, bringing tropical and happy vibes to the corner at 19th Street and Lexington in the Mission. It’s almost like they requested the beautiful weather we’re having this week for their opening.

To recap my original post, the project is from industry vets Madelyn Markoe and Jessie Barker, who worked with consulting chef Telmo Faria (Uma Casa, Tacolicious) on the Cuban menu—now Juan Martinez (Tres, Matador, Globe) is the chef de cuisine. The menu is casual and compact: you can come by for the trademark medianoche ($11.50) or Cubano ($12.50). Both are hot pressed sandwiches that come with ham, pork, Swiss cheese, pickles, and mustard—the only difference is the medianoche is round and comes on an eggy brioche-style bread. Sidenote: this is some of the juiciest pork I’ve had in a Cubano, so good. There’s a fried chicken sandwich, the Celia (cute), with coconut slaw, avocado, and you’ll want to pour their Cuban green sauce all over it.

There are also bowls ($16 or $16.50), like ropa vieja and lechon asado, over black beans, rice, and coconut slaw, plus a couple of salads, including the bright verde ($6/$10) with young kale, cabbage, avocado, spiced pepitas, and a shaving of manchego with mojo vinaigrette (killer salad!).

You can start your meal with snacks like picadillo empanadas ($9), a must, plus hot little fried croquetas ($9) with smoked ham, Gruyère, and pickle that you dip into aioli. With this warm weather, the ceviche ($10) makes total sense, with calamari, shrimp, cilantro, lime, and plantain chips.

For dessert, there are Moon Bar ice cream pops in flavors like chocolate-dipped guava cheesecake and cafe con leche with cocoa nibs, developed by former Delfina pastry chef Jessica Sullivan. There are also guava pastelitos from La Ventana Cubana.

Service is fast-casual—you order at the counter, and then wait your turn for a spot at a table, either some communal ones or there’s counter seating. Some outdoor seating is coming too. The aqua-spiked space (designed by Hannah Collins Designs) makes you instantly happy, with custom concrete and hand-painted tile floors, plenty of wrought-iron touches, plants, and don’t miss the metallic banana wallpaper in the bathroom. You’ll find a flamingo mural outside by fnnch to match the neon flamingo inside, Fiona (now you know). Markoe, who has a music background and studied Cuban jazz, worked with her brother on curating the restaurant’s music.

You can also grab some wine (by the glass, carafe, and bottle, with two whites, two reds, a rosé, and a sparkling), plus sangria, beer, and aguas frescas. Hours are Wed-Mon 11:30am-10pm, closed Tue (look for some later weekend hours soon). 3465 19th St. at Lexington.

I mentioned the affordable Italian spot coming to the Mission, ~PINK ONION~, a Sicilian-inspired panino, pizza, and pasta place, and it’s now open. To recap, it’s an extension of the Lo Coco’s restaurants in Oakland and Berkeley. Look for panini and salads for lunch, and 3-4 handmade pastas and about 10 pizzas with “lively salads” and housemade bread at dinner. There are 12 craft beers on tap and 6 wines on tap, primarily local. Open daily 4pm-10pm. 64 14th St. at Folsom, 925-323-1933.

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Tonkotsu ramen at Marufuku. Yelp photo by Ben M.

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The glam new Caviar Co. shop and clubhouse. Photo courtesy of The Caviar Co.

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Loco moco at Baodown’s morning luau buffet. Photo via Facebook.

I have a few quick openings around town to report on, starting with the latest ramen place to open in Japantown, ~MARUFUKU RAMEN~. If you look at their menu, you’ll see their specialty is Hakata-style ramen (thin noodles, with varying levels of noodle hardness) and two kinds of chicken paitan ramen with a variety of toppings, spice levels, plus small rice bowls. Open Tue-Fri 11:30am-2pm and 5:30pm-9:30pm, Sat 11:30am-9:30pm, and Sun 11:30am-9pm. 1581 Webster St. Ste. 235 at Post, 415-872-9786.

Back in January, I broke the news that ~THE CAVIAR CO.~ was opening in Cow Hollow from sisters Petra and Saskia Bergstein, and they are now open—just look for the caviar cart in the window. You can come by for a variety of caviar, like white sturgeon, local hackleback, spendier golden osetra, and more approachably priced smoked trout roe, and you can pick up special orders too. Call ahead to book special caviar tastings with a group at their swanky table. Open Tue-Fri 10am-6pm, Sat 11am-6pm, Sun 12pm-4pm. 1954 Union St. at Laguna.

Open now in the former Game/All Spice (previously Masa’s) is ~BAODOWN~, an import from Vancouver. Known for its Pacific Rim fusion dishes, Baodown started their service with an all-you-can-eat Hawaiian breakfast buffet, featuring loco moco, longanisa with garlic rice, and breaded Spam, served 9am-12pm. Yeah, you may need a nap afterward.

Starting this Wednesday March 15th will be the launch of dinner service, and according to their Instagram feed, dishes include huli-huli chicken, lechon pork, and kare-kare Alberta Beef short ribs (with peanut sauce, tempura bok choy, crispy garlic, sesame seeds, nam phrik, sweet soy). There are plenty of beers on tap to keep your palate fresh. 648 Bush St. at Powell.

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A rendering of Dumpling Time’s upcoming interior. Courtesy of Aya Jessani.

Carb lovers, these two pieces of coming soon news should make you happy. First, the Omakase Restaurant Group (Omakase and Okane) are going to be opening a casual dumpling and beer house, ~DUMPLING TIME~ this April in SoMa, just a couple of blocks from their other restaurants. (Owner Kash Feng is from Xi’an, China, so he grew up basically surrounded with dumplings—this is a project he has wanted to do for some time.)

Expect an array of Chinese and Japanese dumplings (primarily gyoza) made fresh throughout the day, with some California inspiration. Guests will choose their own fillings and dumpling skins and shapes, ranging from seafood, heritage pork, vegetarian, chicken, lamb, and wagyu beef, with the option of bright wrappers made with spinach, beets, and more. You’ll be able to watch the dumplings be made from scratch in a glass-enclosed “dumpling room.” Daily noodles will also be available. Plan on 10 local craft beers on tap, plus some bottled selections and wines as well. The 70-seat restaurant will also feature 20 seats on a patio. 11 Division St. at King.

(A quick sidenote, the Omakase PR team let us know Kash Feng will also be opening a yakiniku Japanese BBQ concept, steakhouse, whisky bar, butcher shop, and udon restaurant this fall to One Henry Adams, just by the roundabout.)

Meanwhile, udon fans will be visiting ~KAGAWA-YA UDON NOODLE CO.~, also due to open in April. The Mid-Market restaurant (just by the NEMA building) will be quick service, featuring housemade Sanuki-style udon (known for its square shape and flat edges). It’s famous in the Kagawa Prefecture in the Shikoku region of Japan, where there are more than 600 udon shops, and the local population consumes more than seven times than the national average. (Maybe I just found my future home?)

Chef Sean Lim (Palace Hotel, Kyo-Ya) and his wife Katherine Chiao were trained in Kagawa and imported Japanese kitchen equipment. There will be hot or cold broth available ($8-$15 a bowl), plus Japanese-style curries over rice and a variety of bites like Spam musubi (Lim is from Honolulu), onigiri, and tempura. Check out the udon menu here.

The 40-seat space will have a modern, minimalist aesthetic with an exhibition kitchen, a large custom communal table, and lots of natural light. Hours will be Mon-Fri 11am-7pm. 1455 Market St. at 10th St, 415-703-0995.

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Chrysanthemum 10-ingredient salad at China Live. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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Contrada’s breakfast pizza with California Caviar Co. smoked trout roe, crème fraîche, soft scrambled eggs, and garden herbs. Photo courtesy of Contrada.

You have a few more hours to check out the new ~CHINA LIVE~ now: starting today, they are open for lunch, which means continuous hours throughout the day. Check out today’s lunch menu here. Bring on the lobster wonton soup and “Marco Polo” zhajiangmian noodles with minced pork. Hours (for now) are Sun-Wed 11am-10pm, Thu-Sat 11am-11pm. They plan to open earlier for dim sum on the weekends soon. Oolong Café should open by the end of March, with hours that start around 7am or 8am for tea service, baked goods, and more.

Over in Cow Hollow, you can now enjoy one of chef Jason Tuley’s fantastic pizzas over the weekend with California Caviar Co. smoked trout roe, crème fraîche (sorry not sorry, every time I write crème fraîche, I chuckle), soft scrambled eggs, and garden herbs on top. Yup, ~CONTRADA~ is open for brunch, with other dishes on the menu like soft scrambled eggs with Josey Baker seeded toast and black truffles, and short rib hash, plus brunch cocktails (low-ABV ones, to be clear). Hours are Sat-Sun 11am-3pm. And guess what? Their spacious patio is now open! 2136 Union St. at Fillmore, 415-926-8916.

Lastly, are you on the waiting list for dinner at ~HITACHINO BEER & WAGYU~? I told you all about this project here, but I just wanted to update you that you have to be on the waiting list in order to score a reservation in the dining area for the kappo-style $68 nose-to-tail wagyu tasting menu (pairings are $30). Wait until you try the tongue and sirloin yakiniku (pics here)! But I have an insider tip for you: the bar is now open Tue-Sat at 4:30pm, serving Hitachino beers on draft and some bar snacks (beer menu here and snacks here). You can come in until midnight, no reservation necessary! Good luck finding a seat, however. 639 Post St. at Taylor.

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One year at GourmetFest, chef Michel Bras helped to plate chef Francis Wolf’s dish at the Taste of France luncheon.

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1760 chef Carl Foronda and Acquerello chef Suzette Gresham. Photo: Grace Sager Photography.

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The long table at an Outstanding in the Field event. Photo courtesy OITF.

Some quick upcoming event notices for you:

Feel like getting out of town this weekend? It’s a good one to head to Carmel-by-the-Sea for the annual Relais & Châteaux GourmetFest 2017 (March 16th-19th), which features the largest gathering of Michelin-starred chefs in the U.S. There are special lunches (Daniel Boulud), a wild mushroom hunt, cooking demos in the Gaggenau Demo Kitchen, a 10-course rarities dinner feast, wine tastings (from Chateaux Margaux and Bouchard Père & Fils to Domaine des Comte Lafon, Chappellet Winery, and Champagne Pommery), tasting panels led by Larry Stone, Raj Parr, and Jeff Kellogg, and more.

On Sunday March 19th, Acquerello’s Suzette Gresham and 1760’s Carl Foronda are hosting a Freaky Friday-style “role-reversal” dinner at ~1760~, with Gresham whipping up dishes rooted in Filipino and Southeast Asian cuisine, while Foronda pulls a page out of Gresham’s recipe book with his personal interpretation of Italian cookery. Tickets and menu here. $75. 5:30pm-9:30pm.

Colu Henry’s pasta cookbook, Back Pocket Pasta, is out, and ~BARZOTTO~ is hosting a party on Tuesday March 21st, cooking up dishes from the book. Wine will be flowing as well. 7pm-9pm. $50. Tickets. (Books cost extra.)

And fans of Outstanding in the Field should know tickets for 2017 go on sale on Monday March 20th, with almost 90 table-to-farm dinners across North America. Some Bay Area events include Secret Sea Cove in Santa Cruz with guest chef Gonzalo Guzman of Nopalito; Tomales Farmstead Creamery with guest chef Nicolas Delaroque of Nico; Fifth Crow Farm in Pescadero with guest chef Ravi Kapur of Liholiho Yacht Club; and Stemple Creek Ranch in Tomales with guest chef Hiroo Nagahara of Nomica. Don’t delay if you see an event you want to spring for (yes, I am making a pun)—tickets move fast.

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Doughnut Dolly’s kiosk in the Twitter building/The Market. Photo via Facebook.

Last month brought the lousy news that ~DOUGHNUT DOLLY~’s Hannah Hoffman was closing her Berkeley shop, and then last week, she announced on Facebook she was also closing her locations at Temescal Alley and at The Market in the Twitter building. Awww hell. Her “naughty cream” gained many fans the past five years, and she’ll be missed by many.

You look like you could use some news about where to go when your sweet tooth hits since you just got your cream-filled doughnuts taken away. Nosh brings word of ~SECRET SCOOP~, a Thai gelato shop with flavors like chocolate lemongrass, roasted coconut, pandan leaf, salted tamarind sorbet, and black tea. They are made with natural ingredients, 100 percent rBST-free milk, and are reportedly “lower in sugar and saturated fat than traditional ice creams.” You can order any of the flavors over sticky rice. Open Mon-Thu 12:30pm-8:30pm, Fri-Sun 12pm-9pm. 1922 Martin Luther King Jr. Way at Berkeley Way, Berkeley, 415-939-2832.

If you’re craving something a bit more savory, come by ~DORA’S~ (previously known as A Dora Pie) in Berkeley for their stuffed sandwiches (“bunzas”) with fillings like chicken korma, beef and cheddar, and Vietnamese pork. Oh, and there are sweet pies too: key lime, apple, blueberry, and chocolate silk. There’s also now a taproom, featuring 12 taps (half are Fieldwork Brewing, and the rest are Altamont Beer Works, HenHouse, and Berryessa Brewing Co.). You’ll find 20 seats and an outdoor beer garden with room for 80 (!) and views of a competition-level rose garden. Well then. Open daily 11am-9pm. 1966 University Ave. at Milvia, Berkeley, 510-705-8800.

March 7, 2017
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Peking duck with kumquat glaze in sesame pockets. All photos: © tablehopper.com.

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Sichuan “working hands” boiled wontons.

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Three-treasure bao zai fan claypot rice.

Mega project ~CHINA LIVE~ is shifting into higher gear, and it looks like they are going to be starting Market Restaurant and Bar Central’s lunch service on Tuesday March 14th at 11am, which means they will then have continuous hours every day until closing. For this week, Market Restaurant and Bar Central are open Sun-Wed 5pm-10pm and Thu-Sat 5pm-11pm. (Remember, no reservations.)

You can look at last week’s overview of the project; I went on opening night to dine with friends, and I now have a menu to share with you. (The menu changes daily depending on what they’re finding at the market, so this is yesterday’s.) Founder George Chen’s team is led by Joey Altman, director of culinary operations, and chef de cuisine Chi-Feng Lin (previously at high-end restaurants in Taiwan), with Jonnatan Leiva and Ivan Tam.

Some highlights from our dinner: the chashu bao (baked pork buns) with their sweet crumble topping; and the lightly crisp sesame pockets for the Peking duck with kumquat glaze, which are something different than the usual pancake or steamed buns/bao presentation we usually see in SF. The sheng jian bao (pan-fried juicy dumplings) are a must, just eat them carefully. The Sichuan “working hands” boiled wontons reminded me of a Chinese version of large and loose cappelletti, such a fine wrapper (ditto the XLB).

Our table enjoyed the three-treasure bao zai fan claypot rice with lap cheong (Chinese sausage), la rou (cured pork belly), and la wei fan (cured duck), and the flavorful Taipei beef noodle soup will warm you right up. The vegetable dishes were a particular highlight, like the winter radish, the chrysanthemum salad, and pressed five-spice bean curd with celery and green peppercorn. There’s plenty of live seafood to choose from, and overall, the kitchen had a light touch.

Dessert is from pastry chef Luis Villavelazquez, who is adding some contemporary and elevated touches. Our table was particularly taken with the sesame soft serve topped with mango shaved ice. Look for some pastries and more, which will be coming from him at the Oolong Café.

Be sure to take a look at the wine list and cocktails by director of beverage Duggan McDonnell. And for those of you joining us this Saturday for the sold-out tablehopper preview event, I hope you’re coming hungry.

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Some of the baked goods you can anticipate from the upcoming Kahnfections. Photo courtesy of Kahnfections.

While it was sad to have Green Heart Foods close a couple of months ago, a new business is taking its place: ~KAHNFECTIONS~, a bakery from Judy Kahn. She was working with Sandbox Bakery for a number of years, and then went out on her own. Now she’s opening her first brick and mortar, where she will be baking and serving biscuits (classic buttermilk, cheddar bacon, dill Swiss, and possibly egg sandwiches down the road), croissants, and scones, plus dessert items and comfort food favorites, like cookies and carrot cake. The opening will be in a couple of months or so. I’ll keep you posted. Hours will be 6am-3pm. 3321 20th St. at Folsom.

Also on 20th Street: wine bar extraordinaire and neighborhood clubhouse ~20 SPOT~ has a new chef, the talented Joyce Conway from Zero Zero. She begins March 15th and will keep the classics, like the deviled eggs, oysters, and cheese plate, but the remaining dishes will be inspired by what’s at the market. Expect some comforting American/Californian dishes, with Italian and Asian influences. And since she will just be coming back from Spain, you’ll see some Spanish touches as well. Some hints at what’s to come: hand-filled pastas, porchetta, crudos, poke, ceviche, hand-pulled mozzarella, fresh ricotta, “all cooked with love,” as she says. 3565 20th St. at Lexington, 415-624-3140.

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The pastrami sandwich from Shorty Goldstein’s. Yelp photo by Vicente G.

There are some emails that I really hate to receive, and I got a couple of them this past week regarding the closure of two businesses, from really great people. Closing this Thursday March 9th is Jewish deli ~SHORTY GOLDSTEIN’S~ in the Financial District, home of my favorite corned beef in the city. Chef-owner Michael Siegel opened Shorty’s four years ago, an homage to his heritage and family recipes. (Shorty was his grandmother.)

When listening to him explain the what and why, I couldn’t help but think it sounded all too much like what happened to Merigan. Both delis had owners with a strong commitment to using quality ingredients, making a great deal of items by hand, and ultimately there was too much of an imbalance between all the hours and labor and effort against the final numbers. He said it was an incredibly hard decision, but at a certain point, they realized they just wouldn’t ever be able to get ahead. Siegel said he didn’t want to sound like every other restaurateur closing a business right now saying, “San Francisco is so hard,” but it’s true. As an example, he explained his cost for meats has doubled since he opened Shorty’s, but his sandwich prices didn’t. He said it’s so hard to explain to people, and it’s a constant battle with people’s expectations and sense of value, and not knowing everything that goes into the making of that Rachel sandwich. Add in escalated rent, minimum wage, and food costs, and it’s all really hard for a small business like his to survive.

He said he hasn’t had two weeks off in more than 10 years, so he’s going to take some well-deserved time to regroup. Siegel will potentially look at opportunities closer to Sonoma, which is where he lives with his wife. While he won’t miss the three hours of daily commute time, he is definitely going to miss all their regulars, who have become family. Expect a heartfelt closing party this Thursday. Best wishes, Michael. Thanks for all the care you took in feeding all of us so well. 126 Sutter St. at Montgomery, 415-986-2676.

The other sad closure news was from the Loló team, who let me know they were closing ~LOLÓ CEVICHERÍA~, after 10 years in the location (it’s where they opened the original Loló, which is now on Valencia). Their lease was going to end at the end of March but they just decided to close ahead of time—their last day of operations was this last Saturday. Loló of course remains open and buzzing on Valencia. 3230 22nd St. at Mission.

One more item to note: heirloom bean maestro ~RANCHO GORDO~ is closing the Ferry Building shop at the end of the month, on March 27th. Fortunately the Napa shop will still be open, offering classes and demos (and is actually going to be expanding). And, of course, you can still order online and find them at various markets.

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Fritas from Cuban Kitchen. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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Jian bing from Tai Chi Jianbing. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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Opening night just getting underway at Off the Grid: Fort Mason. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Last Friday, I got to check out some of the new vendors at Off the Grid: Fort Mason Center, which just started back up. A few highlights: fans of Cuban cuisine who just can’t find a decent Cubano in this town (raises hand) will definitely want to swing by the Cuban Kitchen tent. Founder Lynna Martinez makes a really good one, and I really fell for her fritas: little pork burgers with a smoky, chorizo-like heat from the pimenton she uses, with housemade habanero pickles and crispy little french fries tucked in there. You want this.

You can also try the Chinese street treat jian bing from Tai Chi Jianbing—it’s like an eggy crêpe with fun fillings inside, and they care about using organic ingredients. El Porteño is back with their empanadas, and Pretzelina is serving authentic Bavarian-style pretzels with beer cheese. You can stay hydrated with a fresh coconut from CORE Kitchen, or bring it over to neighbor Rye on the Road and have it spiked with some booze. (Or you can go for one of Rye on the Road’s boozy hot toddies—it hits the spot on a chilly and windy SF night.) And of course a bunch of regulars will be returning, from Johnny Doughnuts to Curry Up Now, and don’t miss the wood-fired pizzas from A16—check the schedule for the latest.

Music will also continue to be a part of the event, with live bands from 8pm-10pm. Every Friday 5pm-10pm through October.

Mark your calendar and get ready for Presidio Picnic to start on Sunday March 19th, returning for its fifth season with The Presidio Trust. Food, drinks, music, lawn games, fun with the kiddies…the bases are covered. Plus groups can pre-order food this year (check the site).

New to Presidio Picnic this year are A’repa, Belgian Frites, Bi-Rite Creamery, Farm Stand Lemonade, Hookt Mini Doughnuts, Jackrabbit, Falcon, Marla Bakery, Ocean Oyster Company, Senor Sisig, and True Jerky. Returning vendors include Ceviche & Co., Cochon Volant, Del Popolo, DUM Truck, Early Bird Tacos, El Sur Empanadas, Fine & Rare, Grilled Cheez Guy, Little Green Cyclo, Nopalito, Sam’s Chowder, Slightly Skewed, Tex Mex, The Whole Beast, and Wings Wings. Main Parade Ground, Sundays through October, 11am-4pm.

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Short ribs at Mockingbird. Photo courtesy of Mockingbird.

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Sambal shrimp and coconut grits at Drip Line. Photo: Nick Wolf.

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Chinese five spice and ginger croissant buns. Photo: Nick Wolf.

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The OK Cheeseburger made with aged beef. Instagram photo via @oldkanbeer.

Some exclusive news for you: ~MOCKINGBIRD~ is reopening at the end of March in their new (and expanded) location in downtown Oakland (they originally opened on San Pablo Avenue in 2013, and closed in 2016). Melissa Axelrod and William Johnson are confirmed for an opening by late March. The bistro format will continue, serving sophisticated yet approachable seasonal cuisine (think Nopa and Zuni Café). Menu items include duck liver mousse with local strawberry rhubarb jam and grilled Firebrand bread; fried Brussels sprouts with lemon-garlic confit aioli, blue cheese, and saba; and slow-cooked pork sugo with manchego cheese and crispy rosemary polenta.

There’s a full liquor license, so they will focus on classic craft cocktails and local beers and wines (with an emphasis in Oakland producers). While dinner will feature table service, lunch will also offer quick counter service for those who are on the go. The 4,200-square-foot space features a 20-seat bar, booths, round tables, and a mezzanine that can accommodate large parties. Note the original exposed red brick walls and refinished antique Douglas fir floors.

They are starting with lunch first, Mon-Fri 11:30am-2:30pm, then happy hour and dinner service will be added. It will be an ideal spot for a quick drink or bite at the bar before a show at the Fox Theater. Breakfast and brunch will be coming later. 416 13th St. at Broadway, Oakland, 510-290-0331.

West Oakland has a new café and restaurant, ~DRIP LINE~, which opened in a renovated and light-filled warehouse which was previously a cookie factory. The project is from architects Carrie Shores and Josh Larson (their firm, Larson/Shores Architecture and Interiors, sits above the restaurant) and chef Nora Dunning, who is highlighting her Singaporean roots with dishes like housemade sambal shrimp and coconut grits, congee with bird’s-eye chile kosho, and rendang (Indonesian-spiced slow-braised beef)—look for hyperlocal ingredient sourcing. She also has some serious baking skills, making housemade breads and pastries, and she was most recently head kitchen manager and culinary operations manager for Blue Bottle Coffee. Breakfast, coffee service from Four Barrel Coffee, and lunch are served Mon-Fri 7am-5pm. 1940 Union Street #21 at 21st St., Oakland, 510-612-6952.

Also in West Oakland, the former Dock has finished its transformation into ~OLD KAN BEER & CO.~, a brewery and beer garden from Linden Street Brewery founder Adam Lamoreaux and chef James Syhabout. There’s a 35-seat dining room, a 60-seat patio, and a private dining room that fits 48. The first three beers are Old Kan Original, Old Kan Dark, and Old Kan Light, which are currently being produced in San Jose until they get their license. There will also be guest beers on tap, serving 10 beers in all. The pub-style menu includes a burger, meatball sandwich, and salads, plus buttered noodles and more. And if you like fun facts, the name is an anagram of Oakland. Open Wed-Fri 4pm-9pm, Sat 12pm-9pm, Sun 12pm-6pm. 95 Linden St. at 3rd St., Oakland.

If you want to grab some lunch, ~THE WOLF~ is now serving Mon-Fri 11:30am-3pm. The menu is here—duck banh mi, check. 3853 Piedmont Ave., Oakland, 510-879-7953.

February 28, 2017
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The dumpling station in the back of Market Restaurant. Photo courtesy of China Live.

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Bar Central. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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Subway tile and a counter overlooking the kitchen. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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The exterior of China Live Marketplace. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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One of the massive elm tables in Market Restaurant. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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Oolong Café, with hand-painted tiles. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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Retail Market. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Last week was a preopening party for ~CHINA LIVE~, giving guests a look at the first floor of the mega culinary and cocktail multifloored project opening on Broadway this Wednesday March 1st. The first floor includes the Market Restaurant and Bar Central, Oolong Café, and a carefully curated retail area, Retail Market. Expect the other floors (including the high-end Eight Tables, which diners will access via a back-alley entrance, and a swank bar) to open later this spring and summer.

George Chen—founder and executive chef of China Live—has been working on this project with his wife, Cindy Wong-Chen, for the past few years. Chen hired one of the top concept design firms, AvroKO (who did a stunning job with Single Thread in Healdsburg), to design the 30,000-square-foot space, which some are calling the Eataly of Chinese food. Other key figures on the team are Joey Altman, Director of Culinary Operations, and Quinn McKenna (Lark Creek Restaurant Group), Executive Director of Operations (I also spotted Jonnatan Leiva and pastry chef Luis Villavelazquez helping out).

Let’s take a look. Visitors will first walk in past a flower and plant stand, and then will note the Oolong Café, outfitted with blue and white tiles that reference 14th-century Chinese porcelain. Be sure to take a close look at the wall installation, you’ll see some Bay Area landmarks cleverly tucked in. At the counter, you can order artisanal teas sourced directly from farmers in Taiwan and China (like Dong Ding “Frozen Peak” High Mountain oolong tea), coffee, and grab-and-go Chinese bites, including pastries and jianbing crêpes. There are 25 seats in the café.

The main event is Market Restaurant and Bar Central, with 120 seats, and it’s like the Chinese food court of your dreams, featuring eight stations: dumplings and dim sum, Chinese charcuterie and barbecue, cold salads and starters, noodles and rice bowls, fresh and live seafood, rice bowls, soups and tonics, wok stir-fry and grill, and desserts. You’ll have table service and order off a daily changing menu, which will feature seasonal products and dishes from many regions.

Some signature items include stone oven-roasted duck prepared Peking style with seasonal fruit glazes; sheng jian bao dumplings (SJB), which are juicy pan-fried pork dumplings; mapo tofu prepared tableside (meat or vegetarian); three-cup Taiwanese chicken with basil and seasonal citrus confit; chrysanthemum salad with star fruit vinegar (which you can pick up in the Retail Market, it has such an unusual and appealing flavor); and dan tat (Macanese egg custard tart) done crème brûlée style. Unfortunately I can’t share a menu at this time, but will go over it with you next week. (I’m also going in for dinner with a friend, so will be able to include more details.)

There are four exhibition kitchens with bar and counter seating, so you can watch the chefs in action. The dining room features chairs and huge communal/group tables handcrafted in China from reclaimed Northern Chinese elm, and it has a very clean look, with subway tiles alongside ones made with Shanghai clay. Of course, the kitchen is mega custom and top of the line. Be sure to peek at the stone oven they will be roasting Peking ducks in and the Wa Guan Tang ceramic cauldron for slow cooking.

Director of beverage Duggan McDonnell is crafting a unique program, from international wines and sherries that will pair with the many nuances of the food, to cocktails that will utilize Chinese ingredients—more on his list soon. There’s also a Malaysian-style cold-brew coffee and a custom Marin kombucha.

The Retail Market is full of cookware, cutlery, unique products for your pantry (including spices and condiments like vegetarian XO sauce), and top-of-the-line soy sauces, vinegars, teas, and more. There will also be fresh produce. Education will be a big part of the experience: there will be guides to help explain all the items in-depth, and screens will be streaming videos of Chinese cooking techniques.

The doors open this Wednesday March 1st 5pm-10pm. Stand by for more from me next week!

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The bar at Hitachino Beer & Wagyu. All photos: © tablehopper.com.

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Some of the booths in the back dining area.

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An array of sake cups/jars used for bar snacks.

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Chef Noriyuki Sugie.

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The view from the back of the space toward the front.

Back in the summer of 2015, tablehopper was first to report on the opening of a Hitachino-affiliated project in San Francisco, and I’m so happy to see ~HITACHINO BEER & WAGYU~ is almost ready to open its doors, the first Hitachino-operated location in North America. The Kiuchi family has been brewing sake since 1823 and is now in its eighth generation. All the craft beers will be served fresh on draft from kegs.

We have been checking in with chef Noriyuki Sugie over the past couple of years, so let me tell you more about him. Some past highlights oh his international career include a chef de partie position at Charlie Trotter’s in Chicago, working at Tetsuya’s in Sydney, as well as opening his own Restaurant VII. He was also chef de cuisine of Asiate in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in New York City. Sugie has been collaborating with Kiuchi Brewery/Hitachino Nest Beer for the past 10 years, from creating a menu for the Hitachino Brewing Lab (a bar and homebrewing classroom) in Tokyo to consulting on the opening of Hitachino Hong Kong.

As for what he has in store for the TenderNob’s Hitachino Beer & Wagyu, it’s going to be a two-stage process. Opening first will be the bar menu, featuring 10 specialty Hitachino drafts—3 of which are exclusive to and brewed for San Francisco. Take a look at the opening menu here, which includes specialty barrel-aged beer as well. You’ll be able to get a 10-oz. pour, or try a tasting flight of three. No bottled beers will be served. An interesting and future program will invite SF brewers to the brewery in Japan to create special beers. There are also six kinds of Hitachino Kikusakari sakes, as well as Kiuchi umeshu plum wine, yuzu wine, and red wine—and charcoal-filtered water, of course.

To accompany the pours is a menu of bar snacks (both warm and cool) served in glass sake cups/jars and then poured into a bowl for diners to enjoy. Dishes include octopus sunomono; spicy squid and chorizo; meatballs with shiso, ponzu, and oroshi (grated daikon); pork belly kakuni with pickled egg; chicken gizzard with shishito pepper, garlic, soy, and shichimi; and beef suji nikomi with oxtail, miso, daikon, and konnyaku (a funky gelatinous substance made from a type of potato). Most dishes are $8.

The next phase of the project will be launching the Kappo menu, centered on fine-bred Hitachiwagyu beef from Sugie’s home region of Hitachi. It will be cut and grilled at the kitchen’s teppan grill. The inspiration is Kappo style, which is from Osaka, and means “to cut.” While designed to serve with beer and sake, it’s a nicer presentation than izakaya style, served on ceramics and other lightly refined touches. It will be a prix-fixe experience and will include a variety of dishes, including seafood and vegetables.

The cool Art Deco building (previously Kyu Sushi) now has a beautiful door from Japan, more than 100 years old, previously used for a storage area (note the vents on it). Once you walk in, you’re greeted with a long bar made from heavy wood that was used to press rice while making sake, with barstools with bright poppy seats. There are cherry blossom wood cabinets, stocked with pottery from Japan as well as some made in conjunction with a potter in Grass Valley. Throughout the space, there are some displays of ingredients like preserved lemon and pickles, plus spices that highlight the notes in the beers.

In the back of the restaurant are a variety of booths (most for 4) in a gray-blue with one large booth in the back for 5 or 6 guests, and a few tables as well; there are just 26 seats total in the whole space. You’ll note some vintage touches, like the exposed brick walls and Deco window cutouts.

As for the BIG QUESTION: when does it open? Right now they are waiting for the brewmaster to come from Japan, which is any day now. Once they get the okay, they will be opening for bar snacks and pours, and then launching the wagyu menu soon thereafter—be sure to sign up on the mailing list on the site to keep up on the news and prioritize your spot on the reservations-only list. As soon as I hear any concrete dates, I’ll let you know! 639 Post St. at Taylor.

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La Nebbia. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Congrats to Sharon Ardiana (Gialina, Ragazza) and the residents of Noe Valley, who are lucky to have ~ARDIANA~ opening in the former La Nebbia space in late spring/early summer. Working with her on the new project is Ardiana’s business partner and Ragazza GM, Greg Hinds (Hog Island Oyster Company, Zuni). She says the menu will be Cal-Med, including vegetable-centric small plates and some heartier entrées, all designed to be shared family style. You can trust she will also be rocking the Marsal pizza oven, offering a selection of pies. Ardiana knows her neighborhood audience and will be making the restaurant kid-friendly.

They will be doing a light refresh of the space—expect a change in color palette, chairs, tables, and lighting. She is honored to pick up the torch from La Nebbia’s Massimo and Lorella, and I can’t think of a better person for the space. Stand by for more.

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Katie Kwan and Valerie Luu at the entrance of their new restaurant location. Photo: Andria Lo.

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Pho rolls. Photo: Andria Lo.

After popping up for six years (I remember trying their banh mi one night on Divisadero, right on the street) and looking for a space for the past few years, Katie Kwan and Valerie Luu of Vietnamese pop-up Rice Paper Scissors have found a restaurant space in the Mission on Folsom and 22nd (formerly a grocery store called Delicateses La Plaza). They want to bring some Saigon style to the bare space, with bright colors, tropical plants, and pyramids of fresh fruit.

They plan to have a casual neighborhood restaurant that serves lunch, brunch, and dinner. The menu will have their trademark beef pho and noodle soups (bun bo hue, chicken pho), plus rice plates, street food (fried egg sandwiches), and dim sum bites, like handmade lamb dumplings. They are known for making everything from scratch, including oyster and hoisin sauces and shrimp chips. Beer and wine will be served.

In order to make this all happen, they just launched a Kickstarter to raise $35,000. There are some tasty food rewards and some pieces by local artists, too, so let’s help them build this place, bowl of pho by bowl of pho. They hope to open in a year, but the Kickstarter runs until March 31st.

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Last Sunday’s first brunch in Beneath the Surface: Brunch & Lecture Series. Photo via Facebook.

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Poster by Madelyn Lee.

Let’s do a quick-fire round of what’s crack-a-lackin’ around town, click links for more info and details.

This Thursday March 2nd, Francis Ang (Pinoy Heritage, Fifth Floor, Dirty Habit) is popping up at ~PCH~, so grab a cocktail and enjoy à la carte Filipino dishes with his contemporary and Cali spin on things, like asparagus and squash fritters and pear pinakurat; sisig fried rice with poached egg, pickled red onion; Lola’s lumpia with mango coriander ketchup; and longganisa tsukune with sugar cane, quail egg (can’t wait to try it!). For those of you who have always wondered/wanted to try balut, he’s serving duckling balut like you’ve never had it, with chicken skin, black truffle zest, jus. Dishes will run from $6-$12, 5pm-10pm. (He also has upcoming Feastly dinners that are more sit-down/degustation menu affairs, check dates here.)

Farm-to-Fork has launched a series of Sunday brunch talks, Beneath the Surface: Brunch & Lecture Series, featuring farmers, food producers, purveyors, and chefs, with Stephen Satterfield (Nopa, Nopalize) leading the charge. This coming Sunday March 5th features Kitazawa Seed Company (the oldest seed company in America specializing in Asian vegetable seeds) and Namu Farm at their land-themed brunch. The family-style brunch includes quiche, biscuits, local cured fish, charcuterie, and more from Farm-to-Fork and Fine & Rare, plus an open bar for all the bubbly, mimosas, and/or cider your heart (or head) can handle. Fresh juice and nonalcoholic cocktails provided by Libations Catering. Tickets: $60. The Village, 969 Market St. at 6th St.

On Monday March 6th is Chowdown for Chinatown, a buffet-style community dinner and fundraiser for the Chinatown fire victims (on February 3rd, a two-alarm fire displaced nineteen senior residents and seven businesses on Stockton Street), with 100 percent of proceeds from the ticket and bar sales going to the Chinatown Fire Victim Fund. The event will be at ~MISTER JIU’S~, with food donated from Mister Jiu’s, Black Sands Brewery, Rice Paper Scissors, AA Bakery, Sam Wo, Mission Chinese, R&G Lounge, Liholiho Yacht Club, Namu Gaji, and more! 6pm-10pm, $20, tickets. Attendees can make additional donations to the fund online or at the event. 28 Waverly Pl. at Sacramento.

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Tacos dorados from La Taqueria. Photo by Blair Sneddon Photography.

Fans of the taco dorado should know that ~LA TAQUERIA~ is now closed on Mondays so that their “employees can get a much needed break.” Effective Monday March 6th.

~OLD BUS TAVERN~ in Bernal has closed for a couple of weeks, and when they reopen on Sunday March 12th, they will be launching a more casual brewpub menu under consulting chef Blair Warsham (The Bird). Fortunately the chili will stay, but will now have a friend in a Frito pie with housemade Fritos. Dinner will also be served nightly, with free live music every Sunday. I’ll keep you posted on the reopening menu.

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The Dolly’s doughnuts, paper-wrapped and ready. Photo courtesy Doughnut Dolly website.

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The bar at Longitude. Photo by Gabriel Hurley.

Extremely sad news for the many regulars and lovers of the pancakes at ~BETTE’S OCEANVIEW DINER~ (and the special woman behind them): chef and co-owner Bette Kroening has tragically passed away at 71 from cancer. Be sure to read this thoughtful piece by Jonathan Kauffman about her important contribution to our local culinary scene, feeding so many of us so well while taking good care of her staff, since 1982! Condolences to her family and many friends and fans.

Sorry to read ~DOUGHNUT DOLLY~ is closing her Berkeley shop after failed lease negotiations with her landlord. Fortunately you can still get your naughty cream fix at her Temescal Alley location and in The Market in the Twitter building. 1313 9th St. at Gilman, Berkeley.

And, man, sorry 510 for all the bad news, but I was also so sorry to hear that Suzanne Long is closing her beautiful tiki outpost, ~LONGITUDE OAKLAND~, after three years in business. You need to come in for your last mai tai before this Sunday March 5th. The tiki community, bar community, and many cocktail aficionados are going to miss this special bar. 347 14th St. at Webster, Oakland, 510-465-2008.

February 21, 2017
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Jian bing. Photo courtesy of China Live.

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Rice noodle gluten salad with crispy chile dressing. Photo courtesy of China Live.

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It’s time for cocktails. Courtesy of China Live.

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China Live director of beverage Duggan McDonnell. Photo: Allison Weber.

Are you excited to check out the upcoming ~CHINA LIVE~, being hailed as the Eataly of Chinatown, with multiple floors of restaurants, retail, bars, and more? Yeah, me too. Here’s my in-depth piece from almost three years ago on the huge multilevel project. I’m going to be attending the media preview this Thursday and look forward to sharing all the details in tablehopper next week.

So after we give China Live a couple of weeks to get ramped up, I’m going to be hosting a late afternoon tablehopper preview on Saturday March 11th so you can get an insider look at the project. Director of beverage Duggan McDonnell will be walking us through his unique bar program, and we’ll learn about pairing Chinese food with various beverages, from cocktails to wine to beer.

Our event is in conjunction with Anchor Distilling Co., which means there are some cocktails that will be on the docket, oh you know it, including one on draft (!!) with Kavalan Whisky of Taiwan, Paul John Whiskey of India with blended Scotch, coconut rhum, fresh lemon, and housemade galangal syrup. You can also bet there will be some Anchor Liberty Ale, an insider choice you’ll be hearing more about, plus other surprises from Duggan.

We’ll be tasting plenty of dishes from The Market Restaurant, the street-level restaurant, from specialty dim sum to soup to vegetables to roasted meats and more. We’re just finalizing the menu, so if you want to wait and see it before buying tickets, you can, but no guarantee there will be any left! You’ll be well fed, trust, or this wouldn’t be a tablehopper event. I got you.

We’ll also get a firsthand tour of the project with stories and insights from founder George Chen, plus info about what’s coming next upstairs. It’s exciting stuff.

The event is Saturday March 11th, 3pm-5pm (think of it as a heavy teatime-meets-day drinking situation). $49 all-inclusive, you can get tickets on Feastly. I look forward to sharing an insider look (and experience) at this exciting new project with you!

Follow along on Instagram: @tablehopper @chinalivesf @anchorspirits

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A “work in progress” menu for Pompette. Instagram photo via @hotcakesdesign.

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The bar at Café Rouge. Photo courtesy of Café Rouge.

The sadness over the closure of Marsha McBride’s beloved ~CAFÉ ROUGE~ after 20 years on Fourth Street in Berkeley can be a bit softened with the exciting news of what is taking its place, ~POMPETTE~. Chef David Visick, an alum of Chez Panisse and SF’s Cafe Kati (yup, we’re talking back in the DAY), is taking over the space with his wife, Caramia Visick, who worked at Bay Wolf (as well as Oliveto, Zuni, and Stars) before launching her jewelry line (Hotcakes Design) and shop (Favor) when their son was born—she will be running front of house.

Pompette strives to pick up the mantle of Café Rouge’s welcoming living room-meets-dining room reputation on Fourth Street, an easy place to swing by for a quick lunch or satisfying dinner (open daily), or an afternoon cocktail and a bite. They know how important the bar was to the neighborhood and want to preserve its role (there will also be some affordable wines too). And it ties in well with its name, which means “a little tipsy.”

Visick has been cooking at private events of late (oh, you know, for the Obamas and Clintons), and his style is very ingredient-driven, with impeccable sourcing, through the filters of French, Italian, and Spanish cuisines. The menu will feature bar snacks, medium-sized appetizers that you can easily make a meal of, with many vegetable-based dishes, like grilled artichokes with dukkah, saffron, and yogurt, plus a few bigger plates. Visick mentioned there will be a rotisserie, with nightly rotating meats. One example is rotisserie chicken coming off the spit every 30 minutes, served with a chicory salad, potatoes in the drippings, and salsa verde, enough for 2 or 3 people to make a meal of it. He’s having fun looking at some classics, like lamb Sainte-Ménehould vis-à-vis Elizabeth David, a dish of lamb belly (or breast) that is braised, then chilled, pressed, sliced into strips, coated in bread crumbs, sautéed, and served with sauce gribiche. Sign me up.

The room is getting a gentle update, with new paint, lighting, tables, and chairs, and the butcher shop has been converted into a counter for the rotisserie and more, plus some banquette seating has been added, making a little hideaway nook. There will be 110 seats all told, including the outside.

They hope to open at the end of March. I’ll keep you posted on the menu, to be released soon, and the opening date. 1782 4th St. at Delaware, Berkeley.

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The interior of the former Scotland Yard. Photo via Facebook.

There’s a new taker for the former Bin 38/Scotland Yard space in the Marina. Barrel Room owner Sarah Trubnick has purchased the lease and is launching a concept with Barrel Room’s executive chef Manny Hewitt based on food and wine pairing—all dishes will have recommended pairings (one to complement and one to contrast). There will also be a reasonably priced themed tasting menu offered each night, plus a raw bar. There will be 50 wines available by the glass and half glass. The space is undergoing a full remodel, and construction starts in two weeks. I’ll have more to share as this takes shape; they are looking to open mid-May or early June. 3232 Scott St. at Chestnut.

Opening soon (possibly next week) in the Mission will be ~PINK ONION~, a Sicilian-inspired panino, pizza, and pasta place. It’s an extension of the Lo Coco’s restaurants in Oakland and Berkeley, but will be offering a pared-down menu. Look for panini and salads for lunch, and 3-4 handmade pastas and about 10 pizzas with “lively salads” and housemade bread at dinner. They are going to have 12 craft beers on tap and 6 wines on tap, primarily local.

As for the name, I thought it was a reference to Tropea onions, but it’s actually a play on Palermo’s regional colors, which are pink and black, and they also said they use a lot of onions, including some pickled onions, which give off a bright pink color. As they tell me, they “are trying to create a hip, accessible, Sicilian-influenced neighborhood hangout.” Cin cin! I’ll keep you posted on their opening. 64 14th St. at Folsom.

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Chef Matthew Kirkley; photo via Coi’s website.

Some staffing news around town for you, starting with who’s on deck at ~COI~, working with chef Matt Kirkley. The general manager is Dan Page from Chicago’s L2O, wine director Courtney Olson was previously at Quince (Coi’s previous wine director, Mark Mendoza, has stepped into a larger role at DPG), new chef de cuisine Justin Mauz was previously at Joël Robuchon, Sixteen, Le Bec-Fin, Zahav, and L2O, and pastry chef Riley Redfern was at Jardinière and Quince (replacing Nick Muncy). Just in case you’re curious, the modern seafood tasting menu is $250 per person, while wine pairings are $180.

Meanwhile, after six years of working together as co-chefs and partners at ~SONS & DAUGHTERS~, Matt McNamara is (amicably) stepping away, but will now be the sole owner of their bar and grill in North Beach, The Square. Teague Moriarty is now the sole chef-owner at S&D. Menu update: it’s currently nine courses for $150.

And over at ~PABU~ and ~THE RAMEN BAR~, they have hired a new executive chef to oversee day-to-day operations, chef Shaun King, who will be working alongside managing chef Ken Tominaga. One of his mentors was Rick Moonen—he worked for him at RM Seafood in Las Vegas—who taught him a great deal about seafood and sustainability. He also worked at Sushisamba, restaurants in the Central Coast, and The Dawson in Chicago. 

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A hot slice from Josey Baker. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Fans of Josey Baker’s thin-crust pizza at ~THE MILL~ will be fired up to hear you’ll be able to come by for pizza every night (except for Tuesdays) starting this Saturday February 25th. You can also enjoy seasonal salads, beer, and wine, all from 6pm-9pm. And don’t forget you can also get sandwiches on his awesome bread every Thu-Sun, from 11am until they’re all gone. 736 Divisadero St. at Grove.

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A look at the airy new location of Verve Coffee Roasters in the Castro. Photo: Parker Batterson.

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A look at the airy new location of Verve Coffee Roasters in the Castro. Photo: Parker Batterson.

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Rendering of the upcoming Equator café at Fort Mason.

We reported a while ago that Santa Cruz’s fantastic ~VERVE COFFEE ROASTERS~ would be opening a café in the Castro, their first in SF, and it’s now open. The 1,200-square-foot café was designed by LA firm Design, Bitches—look for a naturalistic look with deep blues, woods, plants, and glazed tiles.

You want the geeky tech sheet? OK, here goes: “The bar features a 4-group Kees van der Westen espresso machine with custom panels designed by artist Jeremiah Kille. The Simonelli Mythos grinders ensure a precise grind for each shot of espresso. Modbar Pour-Over units paired with Kalita Waves will handle By-The-Cup coffee for perfect pours every time.”

You’ll be able to order espresso drinks, brewed coffee, juices, and breakfast, brunch, and lunch options made with baked goods by Manresa Bread. You can also check out their retail goods and in-house publication, Farmlevel Digest, a photo-essay publication featuring coffee farms and farmers, shot entirely on film by the founders. Open daily 6am-8pm. 2101 Market St. at Church.

Meanwhile, ~EQUATOR COFFEES & TEAS~ is opening a new café at Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture at the Gatehouse. The plan is to open in summer 2017. Boor Bridges Architecture is designing a clean, modern space by the Bay Trail, so it will be a new fueling station for the many cyclists, runners, and pedestrians along the waterfront.

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The (former) deck at Bay Wolf. Photo via Facebook.

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A bowl of noodles at Shiba Ramen. Photo via Facebook.

Here’s a recap on other exciting news happening in the East Bay. Over in Piedmont, Rich and Rebekah Wood (Frascati, Wood Tavern, Southie) have opened ~THE WOLF~ in the former Bay Wolf, which closed after 30 years. They have partnered with executive chef Yang Peng, who is also the exec chef of both Wood Tavern and Southie. The menu is “French-forward California cuisine, featuring creative reimaginings of brasserie dishes and ingredients,” and you know there is some duck on the menu (a Bay Wolf classic). Cocktails are also available, and lunch is in the works. Open Mon-Thu 5:30pm-10pm, Fri 5:30pm-10:30pm, Sat 5pm-10:30pm, Sun 5pm-9pm. 3853 Piedmont Ave., Oakland, 510-879-7953.

Opening in April in the Public Market Emeryville will be ~PARADITA EATERY~, a fast-casual concept from chef Carlos Altamirano (Mochica in Potrero Hill and Piqueo’s in Bernal Heights, La Costanera in Montara, Parada in Walnut Creek, and the Sanguchon food trucks). You’ll find classic Peruvian sandwiches, grilled anticuchos (meat skewers), pollo a la brasa (traditional rotisserie chicken), rice bowls, salads, and more, all made with responsibly sourced ingredients. You’ll be able to do quick takeout (there will be curbside service and some grab-and-go items), or you can hang out over some craft cocktails and wine. Hours will be daily 11am-9pm. 5959 Shellmound St., Emeryville.

A second location of ~SHIBA RAMEN~ opens tonight in downtown Oakland from chemist couple Jake Freed and Hiroko Nakamura and chef Danny Keiser (previously Camino). There are seats for 40 and an extended bar program focusing on Japanese and local beer and sake. Look for new specials and more at both locations. Hours will be Mon-Sat 11am-10pm. 1438 Broadway St. at 14th Street, Oakland.

Over in Jack London Square, Daniel Patterson is temporarily closing ~HAVEN~ for construction on February 26th, no word yet on the plans for Haven 2.0. [Via Eater.]

February 14, 2017
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The glowing cobalt bar area at Rooh. Photo: Sameer Yagnik.

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The dining room, with blue booths separated by gold mesh curtains. Photo: Sameer Yagnik.

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Beetroot Kanji, made with tequila and beetroot spice shrub. Photo: Anthony Thornton.

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Lamb shank nihari with ginger, saffron, cilantro, chile gremolata. Photo: Anthony Thornton.

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The paneer pinweel in red pepper makhani. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

San Francisco’s upscale Indian restaurant scene keeps on ramping up, and the latest addition is ~ROOH~ (which means soul or spirit). It’s the first project in the U.S. from Good Times Restaurant Group (the Bhambri family) in India—they have restaurants and nightclubs in Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, and other locations. The chef is Sujan Sarkar, a top-rated chef who has cooked around the world. Sarkar has created a progressive menu that melds regional Indian flavors, modern techniques, and local and seasonal ingredients.

There is a seven-course tasting menu ($80), as well as an à la carte dinner menu that includes some fun bar bites, like chile, pea, and goat cheese-stuffed kulcha; Goan chorizo Scotch egg; and the can’t-miss Kashmiri duck puff. The section of small plates is extensive and intriguing, and at least half of the dishes are vegetarian.

It’s a good thing Sarkar has a big kitchen team from the Good Times’ other Indian restaurants with him here, because there is also an extensive listing of large plates. At a preview meal, we got to taste the elegant paneer pinwheel, such a fun presentation of this classic dish, with a deeply flavorful red pepper makhani, fenugreek, and butter emulsion; the same sauce is used with their tandoori chicken. The tandoori portobello with polenta was a surprise hit at the table. I will admit I thought it sounded too much like a 2002 dish with its truffle oil, but the bite I had made me not care what year it was. Don’t miss the side of black dairy dal—just letting you know. The Indian breads are also fun to try.

The presentations are refined, with many innovative touches and details. Save room for the banana tarte Tatin and tutti-frutti cassata, some of the best Indian-inspired desserts I’ve had.

The creative cocktails are playful, feature many culinary influences, and are based on Ayurveda and its six tastes: sweet, sour, salty, pungent, astringent, and bitter. Maybe come before your reservation and hope for a seat at the swanky cobalt blue bar. The Banaras Sour is a good place to start (gin, basil, cucumber, Chartreuse), and the Beetroot Kanji is made with tequila and beetroot spice shrub. The Mustard Old-Fashioned features mustard ghee-washed Four Roses bourbon—it’s wild.

The SoMa location is in the base of the Dropbox building, and they did a lot to build out what was otherwise a rather industrial and characterless shell. The interior has many flashy touches, with bright colors and shimmery chandeliers plus tiled flooring. The dining area features blue booths separated by gold mesh curtains, and there are wicker-backed chairs throughout, although the barstools also have patent cherry red seats and lanterns suspended above.

Open for dinner Mon-Thu 5:30pm-10pm, Fri-Sat 5:30pm-10:30pm, with a late-night menu Fri-Sat 10:30pm-12:30am. Happy hour, lunch, and brunch to follow shortly. 333 Brannan St. at 2nd St.

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You can’t miss the cheerful exterior of Bayou in the Mission. Photo via Instagram.

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Frog legs are on the menu at Bayou. Photo courtesy of Arthur Wall.

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Gumbo, broiled oysters gratinée, and barbecue shrimp. Photo via Instagram.

Newly open as of Saturday is ~BAYOU CREOLE KITCHEN AND ROTISSERIE~ in the Mission. It’s in the former Young’s BBQ space and is from Garcon’s Jerome Rivoire and chef Arthur Wall, a New Orleans native. It’s meant to be a casual and authentic place, no-frills but still mindful (Wall described it as “a po’boy shop on steroids”). It’s also designed to be affordable, with most menu items ranging from $10-$20. They expect to do a lot of takeout, delivery, and catering.

Wall is excited to be cooking his native dishes. You’ll find a menu (here’s the preliminary menu, subject to change!) of po’boys (from fried soft-shell crab to oysters to boudin, served on Leidenheimer rolls he’s flying out from NOLA), seafood or chicken and andouille gumbo, broiled oysters gratinée, shrimp cocktail, and some other classics like frog legs and a few slighty nicer entrées like sole (or flounder) meunière, crawfish étouffée, and filet mignon medallions with mushroom peppercorn sauce. There is also a rotisserie, which they’ll be spinning Creole-spiced chicken and baby back ribs on.

They have a close relationship with and will be sourcing their meats with Olivier Cordier of Olivier’s Butchery in Dogpatch (he grew up with Rivoire in Burgundy), and the seafood is from Louisiana and the Gulf (via Gulfish), including Gulf oysters, shrimp, catfish, and blue crab fingers. Look for some seafood boils when it’s the season, and you know they’ll have some specials for Mardi Gras.

There are wines by the glass, either an affordable $8 selection or you can spring for a Gigondas—it’s up to the guest how much they’d like to spend, but they want people to feel like there’s a lot of value. The dining room has 22 seats and features some eclectic artwork. It reopens for dinner this Wed, and soft opening service for now is dinner Tue-Sat. They’ll launch lunch either this weekend or next, when hours will extend to Tue-Sat 11am-11pm. Sunday brunch will be coming later. 3412 17th St. at Valencia.

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An al pastor taco from Glena’s. Photo via Instagram.

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The bar at the new Glena’s, which will be serving margaritas and more in March. Photo courtesy of Glena’s.

Opening tomorrow in Dogpatch is ~GLENA’S~ from Michael Gaines (Kin Khao, Central Kitchen, Manresa), a casual taco and margarita spot we told you about last year. It’s in the former The New Spot in the Dogpatch, and he’s opening it with his wife, Stephanie Gaines (Plow), who will be acting as the GM.

His menu features some classic taco styles (al pastor, carne asada, grilled fish, and Hodo Soy tofu), with meat tacos on Sonoritas (flour tortillas with lard) and fish and vegetarian tacos on corn, both kinds are from La Palma. Meats are organic, and all the tacos are $5. Gaines says his food has a California sensibility, bright with acid and freshness, and are a touch lighter (for example, the beans aren’t cooked with lard and are vegetarian).

Other dishes include ceviche tostadas wtih Gulf prawns, pozole made with Rancho Gordo hominy, and eggs and chorizo with fried potatoes, onions, garlic, chile, chorizo, and two poached eggs in a cazuela. Yes, please. There’s also a fried chicken torta, sides like sweet plantains, and churros for dessert.

Once the liquor license kicks in (they are hoping for early March), beverage director Lachlan Bray (Kin Khao, Tosca) has some good things in store. There will be cocktail classics like a margarita and a Paloma, but here’s where things get fun: they want to bring back the blended margarita and make a really, really good one. Can’t wait. There will be four other cocktails, ranging from a spritzer to a low-ABV selection to a spirituous option, and there will be a non-tequila drink too. Bray says his cocktails will be made with quality ingredients and will be approachable and quickly executable.

The space has 31 seats, and they designed it to be good for to-go service. For now, Glena’s is open Mon-Fri 11am-3pm, and once they can serve alcohol (I’ll let you know, don’t you worry), it will be open daily 11am-11pm. 632 20th St. at 3rd St., 415-800-7415.

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The tropical and plant-filled interior of Mestiza Taqueria. Photo courtesy of Mestiza.

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The patio/beer garden with large communal tables and a beautiful mural. Photo courtesy of Mestiza.

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Thai red curry beef taco with pineapple-arbol chile salsa, roast shrimp powder, coconut flakes, basil. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

On Friday evening, I attended a preview party for the upcoming ~MESTIZA TAQUERIA~ in SoMa, and when it opens at the end of this month, you’re going to be happy about that. The owner is Deanna Sison Foster (Farmerbrown, Little Skillet, Victory Hall & Parlor), who is working with consulting chef Sophina Uong (Calavera, Revival Bar & Kitchen, Picán, 900 Grayson).

The name Mestiza, which means mixed culture or heritage, gives you a clear hint about what’s going on with the street food-inspired menu. It’s like a Mexican taqueria, with flavors and ingredients from the Philippines, plus Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam. Some tacos on the potential lineup include Filipino pork adobo with ginger salsa cruda and achara; Khmer lemongrass chicken with serrano-avocado crema, peanuts, pink onions, pickled Fresno chiles; and Thai red curry beef with pineapple-arbol chile salsa, roast shrimp powder, coconut flakes, basil. And for $1 more, you can have the tacos in a queso shell. Uh-huh.

Some more straightforward options are carne asada, hongos y rajas (shiitake and oyster mushrooms, rajas, Spanish onions, eggplant salsa negro, avocado crema, pink onions, radish sprouts), and grilled rock cod (with pineapple-arbol chile salsa, Spanish onion salad, and cilantro). All tacos will range from $3.50-$4.

There are also tostadas (vegetarian or Gulf shrimp), a chopped salad, mixto bowls with a choice of protein and garlic rice (yes!), ceviches, and pulutan (Filipino finger food, like pork adobo empanadas, lechón, and sweet plantains). There will be housemade beverages (including cinnamon horchata, pineapple ginger, cucumber mint, and hibiscus watermelon aquas frescas), a well-selected beer program with seven to nine taps, a tight wine selection, and low-ABV beer and wine cocktails, like a pineapple sangrita, tamarind michelada, and a calamansi lime shandy.

It’s opening in the former Chavo’s, although you’ll hardly recognize it now. The outdoor patio is like an island beer garden and features a stunning floral mural by Jet Martinez, with plenty of plants and live edge wood tables, perfect for groups. The interior is full of more plants and has an easy tropical vibe.

Another thing to look forward to: in late summer, Mestiza Taqueria will also host a community of chefs and entrepreneurs through a series of pop-up dinners in collaboration with SoMa Pilipinas.

Hours will be Mon-Fri 11am-10pm, and eventually will ramp up with weekend brunch Sat-Sun 10am-4pm. Look for an opening in late Feb—will keep you posted! Follow along on Instagram. 595 Bryant St. at 4th St.

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Okane brunch with sides. Photo: Michael Ogata.

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The Bird. Photo: Aubrie Pick.

If you want to shake up your usual brunch routine, ~OKANE~ in SoMa has launched a prix-fixe brunch inspired by traditional kaiseki and onsen breakfasts. Choose from an $18, $20, or $22 menu, with dishes like grilled fish, chicken teriyaki, stewed pork belly, gyoza, vegetables, and sesame tofu, with salad, miso soup, pickles, and rice. It’s like having a bento box for brunch. You can also share larger dishes with your table, like kani lobster gohan, a rice bowl with crab and lobster meat ($16). Served Sat-Sun 10am-2pm. 669 Townsend St. at 8th St., 415-865-9788.

Popular FiDi fried chicken sandwich pushers ~THE BIRD~ are launching breakfast Wednesday February 15th. On the menu: fried chicken biscuits ($4.50) and other biscuit sandwiches (sausage, egg, and cheese biscuit; and bacon, egg, and cheese biscuit), and all come with hash rounds. There are also housemade apple fritters (don’t tell your cardiologist), Four Barrel drip coffee, and OJ. Serving Mon-Fri 8am-10am.

Beginning at 8am this Wednesday, they’ll be giving away 200 breakfast sandwiches to the first 200 people who stop by that morning. (It’s their way of saying thank you to the supportive fans who’ve waited in long lines for their fried chicken sandwiches). 115 New Montgomery St. at Minna, 415-872-9825.

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The bar and communal table at The Drawing Board. Photo: Molly DeCoudreaux.

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The Drawing Board’s gluten-free rosewater cardamom cake. Photo: Molly DeCoudreaux.

Now open in Downtown Petaluma is ~THE DRAWING BOARD~, an eatery from first-time restaurateur Rosie Wiggins. Chef Ariel Nadelberg (previously Seed + Salt) has crafted a menu that features minimally processed whole ingredients (many of them local and heirloom) with international influences that’s designed to fit many diets, from gluten-free to paleo. Dishes can include crudo, farinata pizzette, and duck confit cassoulet, and there are desserts from Robin Luu (Nopa, Bar Agricole). See, it’s not all restrictive—there’s also a full liquor license with a focus on herbaceous tinctures, tonics, shrubs, and bitters made from locally foraged botanicals. Dinner to start, and breakfast, lunch, and farm dinners will roll out soon. And look at the space, it’s pretty damn charming. Wed-Sun 5pm-12am. 190 Kentucky St. at Washington, Petaluma, 707-774-6689.

A longtime tablehopper reader (grazie, Gnocco!) forwarded an email to me from Christopher Lee—formerly the meat maestro of Eccolo—who is returning to the Bay Area after working in New York (at Il Buco) and Europe. It ends up he’s taking over Molly Best’s ~THISTLE MEATS~ in Petaluma (she is stepping away to be with her young family), and he will be transitioning the space into his own version of the butcher shop. In the email, he says, “The ‘new’ shop offerings will be diverse and will include fresh meats, poultry, game, sausages, and a range of house-cured meats and charcuterie, as it has done. But we’ll also offer excellent cold sandwiches to take away and tasty sausage sandwiches grilled to order. There’ll be a selection of condiments, vinegars, olive oils, salt, salt-packed capers and other jarred delights, and a selection of tinned seafood from Spain and Portugal, the beauty of which I discovered over the past few years. (They are a story unto themselves, a revived artisanal industry of extraordinary quality and charm.)”

There will also be some staples, and Lee mentions in time he’ll have a couple of pickup points: Bartavelle in Berkeley and Cosecha inside Swan’s Market in Oakland. 160 Petaluma Blvd. N. at Washington, Petaluma, 707-772-5442.

~WISE SONS~ is opening in the former Miette location in the Marin Country Mart in Larkspur. They are targeting mid-April to be open and serving bagels and bagel sandwiches, schmears, coffee, and deli items. 2227 Larkspur Landing Circle. [Via Scoop.]

February 7, 2017
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A look at the new Iza Ramen SoMa. Photo courtesy of Iza Ramen.

Perfect timing for this rainy-ass week. After gaining quite the following at their Lower Haight location, ~IZA RAMEN~ is expanding to SoMa. They will be opening their second location on Friday February 10th at 5pm. The menu is almost the same as Lower Haight’s, though they will be adding yakitori and kushiage skewers later. Dinner to start, and they may add lunch hours too. Hours are daily 5pm-9:45pm. 1155 Folsom St. at 8th St., 628-444-3070.

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A lineup of boba drinks from Boba Guys. Photo courtesy of Boba Guys.

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Sunday Bird in a box! Complete with honey-butter bao-scuits. Yelp photo via Sam L.

Last month I reported that ~BOBA GUYS~ was close to opening their fifth location on Fillmore Street (just next door to Wise Sons Bagelry), and they are now open. The menu features their trademark boba drinks made with brewed tea (no powders), Straus Family Creamery organic milk, and housemade syrups (no fructose). Drinks range from matcha-horchata to a strawberry-matcha latte. Open Tue-Thu 11am-9pm, Fri-Sat 12pm-11pm, Sun 12pm-6pm. 1522 Fillmore St. at Geary, 415-967-2622.

Open in the back of the Boba Guys shop is ~SUNDAY BIRD~, a takeout Korean fried chicken spot from New York’s Deuki Hong, of the awesome Kang Ho Dong Baekjeong. Expect Mary’s birds, brined for 24 hours and double-fried (Korean Style), sold by the quarter, half, or whole. There are sides like honey-butter bao-scuits and slaw, and sauces too (soy-garlic, spicy Korean chile, and chicharrón). Hours are Mon-Fri 11am-9pm and Sat-Sun 11am-11pm. 1522 Fillmore St. at Geary.

A sneaky little dim sum parlor has opened above ~TASTE OF JIANGNAN~ called ~DIM SUM TEA HOUSE~. The intrepid Melanie Wong of Chow has pics of the menu and more. She also mentions there are “discount coupons good through the end of the month on the counter downstairs and upstairs.” Hours are 11am-3pm, dinner may come later. 332 Clement St. (second floor) at 5th Ave., 415-702-6711.

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Photo of the old interior from Rose Pistola. How many drinks people have had at that bar… Photo via Facebook.

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Prosciutto and jamón heaven at La Nebbia. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

I was just putting the finishing touches on this week’s column when I received the unfortunate news that ~ROSE PISTOLA~ has decided to close its doors after 21 years in business in North Beach. In their farewell note, they say, “While it’s been an amazing experience, with many friends and great memories made over the years, we have decided that due to rising costs it is no longer feasible to continue to operate. We have loved being part of this neighborhood and are so grateful for the support of the North Beach community over the past two decades. Many thanks to all our employees, vendors, and customers for their support and patronage over the years.”

Kudos to the team for such a long run, Rose Pistola was an integral part of the North Beach scene and the home of so many memories for people, both locals and tourists who would return again and again. I remember being so in love with their wood-fired pizzas and family-style dishes, the jazz and cocktails and outdoor seating. They did a lot of things right, and chef Steve Walker was doing a great job with his salumi and pasta dishes. Thanks to the team for taking such good care of so many people over the years. 532 Columbus Ave. at Green.

Sad news for Noe Valley (and beyond): Massimiliano Conti and Lorella Degan of La Ciccia have decided to close their casual pizzeria-enoteca, ~LA NEBBIA~. Scoop says they decided to take a step back, try to work a little less, and focus more on their precious La Ciccia. Anyone who knows these two knows how hard they work, so good for them on taking care of themselves, although La Nebbia (and its insane selection of aged prosciutto) will be missed by many as an easy neighborhood hang. There are supposedly takers already for the space. Once the deal is final, expect to hear what’s next. 1781 Church St. at 30th St.

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Nyum Bai’s chicken curry with nom pachok. Photo via Facebook.

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The chicken bowl, part of Taco Bowls for Dreamers at Comal. Photo courtesy of Comal.

SF’s loss is Emeryville’s big gain. After popping up as ~NYUM BAI~ and then enrolling in La Cocina’s incubator kitchen program, Cambodian Nite Yun is now serving her food from La Cocina’s pop-up stand in the Emeryville Public Market for six months (when she may have the opportunity to extend the lease or sign on for her own stall). Scoop reports she is serving three of her noodle soups: kuay teav Phnom Penh (rice noodles, minced pork, pork slices, crispy garlic, herbs, Khmer pork, shrimp broth), kuay teav Koh Ko (rice noodles, braised brisket, carrots, onions, crispy garlic, herbs, spicy beef broth, side bone marrow), and a vegetarian rice-noodle soup with roasted mushrooms and leeks. Hours are 11am-8pm daily. Emeryville Public Market, 5959 Shellmound St., Emeryville.

In response to the Cheeto’s recent executive orders targeting immigrants entering the United States, ~COMAL~ is running a Taco Bowls for Dreamers special throughout February on Mondays and Tuesdays. Come by for chef Matt Gandin’s fried flour tortilla “bowl” filled with rice, black beans, lettuce, pico de gallo, cheese, crema, guacamole, and a choice of either beef picadillo, rotisserie chicken, or seasonal vegetables ($15). Why a taco bowl? It’s in reference to Drumpf’s infamous 2016 Cinco de Mayo tweet that proclaimed his love for the taco bowl at Trump Tower Grill and “I love Hispanics.” Um, no. Net proceeds from taco bowl sales will be donated to the East Bay Sanctuary Covenant (you can donate here), a nonprofit organization that offers legal aid and support services to immigrants and refugees.

Nosh reports that ~AG FERRARI~ has closed in Elmwood after 27 years, citing the ever-increasing cost of doing business as the cause. Employees will reportedly be offered jobs at other AG Ferrari locations (4001 Piedmont Ave. and 6119 La Salle Ave. in Oakland and 688 Mission Street and 3490 California St. in San Francisco). 2905 College Ave. at Russell, Berkeley.