November 9, 2010

November 9, 2010
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The Lee brothers photo by Mohammad Gorjestani.

There have been all kinds of rumors circulating about the Namu brothers opening a second location—will it be in the Mission, in the Inner Richmond, in the Lower Haight? The Lees were looking all over town at locations (hence the rumors), and the Mission has proven to be the lucky winner. Opening in Fall 2011 will be ~NAMU GAJI~ (“gaji” means branch), a 45-seat modern San Francisco izakaya. It’s going to open in the former retail space that housed Studio 3579 on Dolores Street.

As for the dining style, think yakitori grill counters and lots of cold sake and beer. The seating will be mostly communal, with one semi-private room for group dining. In an email to me, chef Dennis Lee says he is going to “highlight fish and animal parts so people can appreciate things like fin meat, grilled roe, belly meat of fish, grilled pork jowl, skin, intestine, chicken oysters, chicken skin, etc. I will also be making fermented chili paste and miso using strains of bacteria from my mom’s village in Korea. And our usual assortment of homemade kimchees and pickles, as well as Namu standbys like our shiitake mushroom dumplings and ramen.” Sign. Me. Up. There will also be a takeout window selling Asian-style street food, including shaved ice made with locally made, all-natural syrup and seasonal ingredients. The plan is to be open until 11pm daily (and even later pending zoning). 499 Dolores St. at 18th St.

Elizabeth Falkner, Amy Glaze, and crew are gearing up for the opening of ~CITIZEN CAKE~ on Fillmore, currently aiming toward this Saturday November 13th. Lunch will be served from 11am-2:30pm, with dishes like clam chowder ($10) with white wine, leeks, potatoes, lardon, and cream; frisée-lardon salad ($12), with slow-poached egg, radish, tarragon, grain mustard vinaigrette, and croutons; heirloom chicories salad ($9), dates, red onion, pecans, blue cheese, and honey vinaigrette; sandwiches like an open-face fried chicken Cobb sandwich ($12), bacon, egg, avocado, and tomato vinaigrette; falafel ($9), smoked eggplant, beet raita, harissa, cucumber, tahini, and pita pillows; and roast beef sandwich au jus ($11), caramelized onion-horseradish aioli, shredded carrot, and celery. There will also be four pizzas ($11-$15): a margherita with housemade mozzarella; fennel sausage, tomato sauce, red onion, and pine nuts; pesto, bacon, chèvre, walnuts, and arugula; and fall mushrooms, truffle soubise, thyme, hazelnuts, and sage.

During the snack time (from 3pm-5pm), there are arepas with smoked trout, ancho crema, cucumber, and pepitas ($6); chopped liver toast ($7); and other snacks.

Dinner will be served from 5:30pm-10pm, with some of the same starters as lunch, like beet salad with mache, grilled beef heart, horseradish, and crème fraîche ($11), plus hiramasa crudo ($15), radish, persimmon, carrot, avocado, jalapeño, and ponzu. There will also be the pizzas, and main dishes include dorade royal ($21), caramelized cauliflower, golden raisins, pancetta, lemon, caper berries, and brown butter; poussin ($24), mushroom and wild mushroom stuffing, parsnips, Brussels sprout leaves, cranberry-pear sauce, and sherry jus; rigatoni carbonara ($16), pancetta, and pecorino Romano; Kobe beef cheek stroganoff ($19), egg noodles, Thumbelina carrots, Tokyo turnips, and chanterelles; and oat groats ($16), butternut squash, collard greens, pickled quince, and pine nuts.

Rigatoni carbonara. Cue sound of stomach grumbling. And I can’t wait to see the selection of pastries and sweets (which will be baked at Orson), available at 10am.

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At Saison’s hearth counter.

Starting this evening, ~SAISON~ is launching their wine bar concept, Dcantr. Every Tuesday through Saturday evening (from 6pm-11pm), you’ll be able to swing by Stable Café (the café in the front of the building—Saison is in the back) for a selection of wines and more casual à la carte dishes. (Plus some choice music on the system.) The majority of the simple New American dishes will be cooked on the hearth or in the wood-burning oven, but there will be some cold dishes as well (priced $8-$28). Dishes include chicken liver mousseline, quince butter, and toast; sea urchin toast with smoked seaweed butter; and fried sand dabs, ember-roasted Orion fennel, and wild fennel citronette. You can view the complete menu here. No reservations.

Wine director Mark Bright has chosen about five reds and whites each by the glass ($8-$14), with some Henriot poured as well ($18), beers, and some stickies. The list will expand in coming weeks. An interactive and interesting thing Bright is doing is allowing guests to mix their own pinot blend from one producer but three different AVAs (Carneros, Russian River, and Sonoma Coast)—look for the “blending bar” option on the wine list.

And Grub Street released the news that Saison has hired a new pastry chef, Matt Tinder, who was formerly at Meadowood.

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Photo by Crystal Shafer.

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Photo by Crystal Shafer.

After riding my bike past the paper-covered windows for some time, it looks like ~MA•VELOUS~, the chic new coffee and wine bar on Market Street, is soft opening on Wednesday November 10th. Owner Phillip Ma is offering quite the coffee experience: the café will change its coffee menu seasonally, featuring a number of great international roasteries (including Intelligentsia and the Norwegian micro roastery Tim Wendelboe). Each coffee can be brewed in six different ways, either using a custom La Marzocco machine (Ma commissioned Espressoparts to build it), or manually with a Hario V60 coffee drip, a Chemex coffee maker, a French press, and from Japan, a Siphon coffee brewing machine, or the Kyoto cold, slow-drip coffee maker.

There is also a 50-bottle menu from sustainable and boutique wineries from all over the world (with 15 by the glass). Chef Tyler Stone consulted on the breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus, which will be small bites with a local and seasonal focus. There will be soups, sandwiches, artisanal cheeses, and locally handcrafted salumi, as well as desserts and pastries.

It’s quite a looker: there’s a Siphon bar, café seating, a small library, and an intimate lounge area, plus an edgy, 50-foot-long painting by street artist Eddie Colla. Local artists were also commissioned for other elements in the space, including lighting artist Kevin Randolph, and Alan Quiros for the unique Lucite panel design. There was a strong ecological focus in the stylish design by Adeeni Design Group, using many repurposed and recycled materials, and eco-conscious paints. Open daily 8am-12am. Soft opening this Wednesday, and this Thursday November 11th from 6pm-10pm is the reception for artist Eddie Colla and his mural, “My Life.” Admission is free and open to the public. 1408 Market St. at Fell, 415-626-8884.

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Photo from Farina.

In a somewhat cryptic press release, ~FARINA~ announced the return of chef Paolo Laboa as mentor chef. In the good news department, he will be back in the kitchen until the brother and sister duo of Fabrizio and Serena Rebollini arrive in San Francisco in the New Year, with Laboa returning to his hometown of Genoa to open a Farina there in 2011.

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My family’s lineup of pastas for Christmas Eve.

This November, you can really embrace carbs (and an ensuing winter physique) at ~THE MOSS ROOM~, when chef Michael Morrison is offering a Sunday Supper that is all about handmade pasta. Every Sunday in November, you’ll be able to tuck into a four-course meal of Dungeness crab capellini (Asian black garlic, Meyer lemon, chile), Marin County goat cheese cannelloni (cavolo nero, roasted pumpkin, Da Vero olive oil), fresh tagliatelle (with red wine-braised duck sugo agrodolce), and for dessert, quince tarte Tatin (with Straus yogurt, pistachio). $40, and $60 when paired with wine.

(And if you’re a whiskey fan, holla, you may want to peek at their special whiskey menu this month, featuring quite a selection of bourbons and ryes, all $10.)

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The upstairs level at Midi.

After chef Michelle Mah departed from downtown’s ~MIDI~, it wasn’t clear what direction the restaurant was going to head in, but now the Inside Scoop reveals Joseph Manzare is going to open ~HECHO~, basically his tequila, robata, and sushi concept. He’s reportedly going to open it in about 90 days after a remodel of the current space is complete. Midi is going to close on Sunday November 14th. 185 Sutter St. at Kearny.

Since Sushi Sumi didn’t work out (it was the sushi place that took over for Ma Tante Sumi in the Castro), according to ABC permits, the next place to give the location a go will be ~TAKARA SUSHI SF~ (not sure if that’s the final name). The names on the license are different than the (delicious) Takara in Japantown, so time will tell. 4243 18th St. at Collingwood.

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Swing by Chronicle Books this Thursday November 11th at 6pm for ~LA MARKETA~, an “international farmers’ market” with social enterprise Liga Masiva (based in New York). The event is free and will feature street food from across Latin America (two La Cocina businesses will be selling their wares), stories from organic farmers in the Dominican Republic, and cupping of Liga Masiva’s organic, Direct Trade, artisan-roasted coffee (complimentary). There will also be complimentary beer and wine. The event is designed to highlight how Liga Masiva is able to pay farmers twice as much as they would otherwise earn by connecting them with consumers here in the U.S., while consumers gain a greater understanding of the people, place, and culture where the products come from. (Liga Masiva will be expanding to other products and countries in 2011 and beyond.) 680 Second St. at Townsend.

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Autumn panettone from Emporio Rulli.

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SusieCakes apple crumble pie.

Annoying Daylight Savings Time is in effect, the rain is here, and chillier weather is creeping at my window—but fall flavors are also ramping up, which I love. It was like a full-on assault at tablehopper HQ last week, starting with a delivery of an “autumn panettone” from Emporio Rulli. Panettone is one of my favorite things to eat over the holidays, so it was kind of fun to try this new early-bird version with spices, cranberries, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, pistachios, and a walnut and almond paste glaze. Awesome with morning coffee—but the price is a bit ouch, at $37 a loaf. Available until Thanksgiving at Rulli’s Il Caffè at Union Square and Emporio Rulli Larkspur.

I was also sent a trio of mini holiday pies from SusieCakes: apple crumble, pecan, and pumpkin. It was kind of decadent to be eating pumpkin pie a couple weeks early—and not when I am deep in a Thanksgiving dinner coma and barely enjoying my slice. (It was also fun to share the mini pies with neighbors and friends—seriously, get them the hell outta here before I eat them all!) The winner for me was the apple crumble, not too sweet, with the nicely firm pieces of apple, and a light, flaky crust. Click here for more info on pre-ordering pies.

On Saturday I took a break from all my writing chores and pedaled over to the Hapa Ramen kitchen to pick up a couple of Richie’s new take-home ramen kits. You basically get a container of his wonderful broth, a bundle of noodles that you cook in salted water at home, and voila! (Here’s a pic of the kit.) The pork version ($9) was truly delicious (and oh-so filling), with a hunk of pork belly nestled into the rich broth, plus pieces of delicata squash, spigarello, nori, watermelon radish, and scallions that you garnish it all with. (Of course I cooked mine with an egg as well.) The vegan version ($8) was also killer and super autumnal, featuring a kabocha squash-miso broth. (The ingredients are seasonal, and can change each week.) You can swing by the Hapa Ramen stand at the Ferry Building during the Tuesday and Thursday markets to pick them up while they last, or do the pick-up thing at the Hapa Ramen stand at Off the Grid at Fort Mason on Fridays, or at their kitchen at 550 Alabama Street (at Mariposa) on Saturdays from 12pm-2pm (just pre-order them via email). Nakano also said you can sometimes just swing by the Alabama kitchen to pick one up during off hours (if he’s there), so try emailing or send him a tweet!

One more fall entry: this Thursday November 11th, chef Lizzie Binder of ~BAR BAMBINO~ is putting together a four-course fall menu inspired by the northeastern corner of Italy: cauliflower soup with caviar; pomegranate, pumpkin, and lamb stew; and a walnut and poppyseed dessert. Wine pairings for the dinner feature an organic wine grown within the city limits of Bolzano, some wines from the Friuli, and more. Here’s the full menu. 7pm-10pm. $85 per person (tax and gratuity not included). Reserve your seat at 415-701-8466.