April 4, 2006

April 4, 2006

Indian is what's happening in the Mission, and it's not just DOSA-hubbub—Rasoi is under new ownership and is presently closed for some remodeling and freshening up. In the next week or so it will reopen as ~ASLAM'S RASOI~. The chef/owner is Mohammed Aslam, of Indian Oven on Fillmore and Roti Indian Bistro in West Portal and Burlingame. Don't get me wrong, I can hang with Pakwan and Al-Hamra for some boo-jay tikka masala, but let's hope this place will crank out some quality Indian and get some bodies in there—it was always embarrassingly empty.

A long-vacant Chinese restaurant on Valencia is opening April 7 as ~CHA-YA~, an offshoot of a Berkeley restaurant known for its vegetarian and vegan Japanese cuisine. This style of food is known as Shojin cuisine, with roots in Zen Buddhist temple cuisine. It's similar to what you find at the local (and delicious) newcomer Medicine. (Cha-Ya's owner, Atsushi Katsumata, is reportedly a former Zen monk.) There will be over 60 dishes, with vegan variations of sushi and I'm sure tofu and veggie rolls will be holding it down. If it's like their 510 location, there should also be some udon/soba dishes too. You'll be able to sit in one of their 44 seats for dinner from Tue-Sun, 5pm-10pm. 762 Valencia St. at 18th St., 415-252-7825.

A lot of folks, myself included, have been wondering what the heck is going into the former Anna's Danish Cookies space on "EuroTrash Boulevard" AKA 18th Street. Let's pull back that plastic curtain and peek behind the plywood, because here's the scoop: come October or November, that fab location will be opening as ~FARINA—FOCACCIA AND CUCINA ITALIANA~. The project is from Luca Minna and Laura Garrone of Genova, so you can expect some Ligurian favorites to be highlighted on the menu, like pesto, and I'm really hoping for farinata, a chickpea crepe that is traditional Genovese street food and served piping hot. (Are dosas the new burrito?) They did mention cheese-stuffed focaccia. Hello. The owners are applying for a liquor license, and intend to be open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They'll actually be moving the façade of the building back a little to accommodate outside tables, which is lucky for us because it's on the sunny side of the street. I'll be looking over the plans with them in a couple weeks, so I'll be able to give you additional news about the actual space soon. 3560 18th St. at Dearborn.

Found out the popular ~OSHA THAI~ will be opening a fourth location this summer in Four Embarcadero Center, hopefully in August, but at the latest in October. The street-level location brings outdoor seating, with probably 100 or so seats total. The modern Thai look will parallel the Second St. location's décor—in fact, the owners are in Thailand sourcing furniture right now. (Wood elephants, anyone?) The restaurant will be serving lunch and dinner daily, with hopefully some delivery for you Embarcadero working stiffs later in the game.

Vegetarians in Bernal Heights (and beyond) will be sad to learn after two years, ~GERANIUM~ just closed on March 31. Owners Lorraine Garrison and James Allison have a nine-month old baby to attend to, and it ends up James already has a full-time job, so they decided to close shop. They're moving to Sacramento since this city is just too darned expensive (hear ye, hear ye)—I wish them well. By late April, after seven or eight years in their present home, Moki's Sushi & Pacific Grill will be moving in and taking over the location. 615 Cortland St.

So what exactly is going to be in SoMa's ~WESTFIELD SF CENTRE~? (Yes, that would be a Brit spelling, people.) Will it become our own Time Warner Center? (Not sure how I feel about that, actually.) Here are the details I do know: come September 28, 1.5 million square feet will house Bloomingdale's and Nordstrom, plus 170 specialty stores and boutiques; a restaurant collection; The Food Emporium, a gourmet market and 15 fast casual gourmet eateries; some Class A office space; a signature day spa; and a nine-screen, state-of-the-art Century Theatres and CinéArts. Mega, man.

But this is tablehopper, which means we're here to talk about the food. The Food Emporium will house a 30,000-square-foot gourmet market featuring deluxe charcuterie, patisserie, international wine varietals, seafood, and produce, plus gourmet coffee and teas. The 15 fast casual gourmet eateries are going to offer more of an upscale dining environment. No Hot Dog on a Stick or Orange Julius, folks—food will be served on real china with real cutlery (no sporks), so don't call it a food court, ha ha. Up on the fourth floor there will be a lounge under the restored glass Emporium dome, and some leading restaurateurs will be offering a full-service dining experience.

Which restaurateurs, you ask? As reported in Northside last month, Bradley Ogden will be one of those fourth-floor tenants, with ~LARK CREEK STEAK~, a higher-end destination for steak and fish. During a recent conversation with Ogden, he mentioned that he wanted to focus on simple yet creative presentations, and sourcing is tantamount. He added that sides will shine, and ladies who lunch will be pleased with the lighter menu offered during the day (and the fact that the restaurant will be kitty corner to Bloomie's). There will be an open kitchen with ringside seats, and over 100 seats in all. Architecture & Light will be overseeing the space, who also worked with Ogden on his Walnut Creek Café, his Yankee Pier locations, and some remodels.

Speaking of ~YANKEE PIER~, San Francisco will finally have one of Ogden's trademark casual seafood establishments on the bottom level of the "centre" (ahem). The menu will highlight 8-10 items with some East Coast/West Coast flair. Hope for tasties like fish and chips, a clam roll, steamed mussels and clams, chowder, and his Yankee salad of Fuji apples and blue cheese.

Another tenant keeping Ogden company on the fourth floor will be Chris Yeo's ~STRAIT'S CAFÉ~. He'll be moving locations, and therefore his restaurant on Geary Street is up for sale. The sleek and contemporary look will reference his Santana Row Strait's Café, with room for 120 diners. There will be a full bar, a lounge area with DJs, and the Singaporean menu will continue to highlight the Pan-Asian influences of Malaysian/Indonesian, Chinese, Indian, and Nonya cuisines.

A little bird also told me ~CHARLES PHAN~ of Slanted Door MIGHT be doing something downstairs in the Food Emporium. Maybe. Looking at the success of his "Out the Door" takeout offshoot at the Ferry Building, that would be my guess. Will report more once I hear something official. I also just saw this on Chowhound: "The owners of Slanted Door appear to be in the early stages of attempting to open another Slanted Door restaurant at 2232 Bush Street, near Fillmore. This week, they received a positive vote from the Board of Appeals regarding a zoning issue." Well. Look who's busy busy.

Here are some groovy deals around town I've heard about: first up, the ever-darling ~LUELLA~ will be hosting an industry night on Mondays for those who work in the restaurant/hotel/bar industry. You'll get 20% off their already affordable and tasty vittles and wine (uh, and let's not forget dessert, like those crack-laced orange and sweet ricotta fritters). Be sure you mention who you are, where you work, or who you know. Aw, they're friendly like that. Don't pretend to be me, however. You'll get in trouble.

And then the day after, you can scoot on over to ~2223 MARKET~ for their "12 Buck Tuesdays" promotion. Each Tuesday there's a special menu featuring some $4 apps (like wild mushroom bisque or asparagus tempura roll) and $12 entrées, like classic meatloaf, Southern-fried chicken, or butternut squash ravioli. Talk about low-impact prices. I'll apply the excess funds to my drinking budget.

NOW OPEN: As reported previously in the chatterbox, these establishments are now ready to feed you: Abigail's Bakery and Café, and Modern Tea. Also, Terzo in Cow Hollow just opened on Saturday, and Coí is opening this coming Friday, April 7th.