January 24, 2012

January 24, 2012
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The front of 903 (avec smoker!). Photo by Renee Crawshaw.

After checking in with Sandbox Bakery owner Mutsumi Takehara a few times this past month, I was happy to see her tweet that her new second business officially opened in the former Maggie Mudd location, ~903~. She is serving breakfast and lunch daily from 9am-3pm, and dinner will launch February 1st.

On yesterday’s lunch menu: crispy shrimp ball with aioli and sweet and sour plum sauce in a challah hot dog bun, chicken tsukune burger on a potato roll, and Panang fish curry in a Bernal roll (all items $7-$9, and come with mixed greens). You have the option of getting dishes like these (and more) over rice or salad, or you can upgrade to a bento for $3 more and get rice, and your choice of two sides, like corn fritter with Kaffir lime (um, hello), soba noodle salad, or crispy kale.

In case you’re wondering about the smoker out front, Mutsumi’s husband, Mike (who did all the work for the restaurant and bakery), welded the giant smoker. His dad owns a farm in Oregon and the couple is getting some pigs from them, and then butchering and smoking them in the smoker! Today, there were some ribs and a roasted porchetta sandwich to add to the menu mix, and they also do brisket and pastrami.

There are about 20 seats total at a communal table and a couple four tops, plus some stools at a counter. The website will eventually go live here. 903 Cortland Ave. at Gates.

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Juhu Beach Club’s Notorious JBC, aka vada pav. Photo from Facebook.

According to Mission Loc@l, Preeti Mistry of ~JUHU BEACH CLUB~ is trying to open her brick-and-mortar location in the (currently vacant) Quic Pic Grocery on Mission Street. Here’s hoping all goes smoothly with the change of use from the planning commission. Stand by for more in coming months. 2141 Mission St. at Sycamore.

More Mission action: SFist announces the upcoming ~20 SPOT~ due to open in mid-spring in the former Force of Habit record shop in the Mission. Further details from Eater mention the owner Bodhi Freedom (owner of Russian Hill’s Bacchus for the past 12 years) is planning to offer plenty of vino, along with well-sourced/local food courtesy of a former nopa sous chef (stand by for who that is). There will be a wood bar (seating 10), tables (seating 28), and “colored blown glass light fixtures made in a friend’s glass blowing studio in Mexico City.” June is the current target. 3565 20th St. at Lexington.

And not 24 hours after a tablehopper reader told me they spotted some activity at the former Clown Alley/Pickles location in North Beach, Scoop reveals it’s going to be yet another Basque restaurant in the area called ~BASK~. Two couples are reportedly behind the project: Sabrina and Patrick Thillard, and David and Suzanne Cot. On tap: lunch, dinner, tapas at happy hour. A quick remodel is in the works. 42 Columbus Ave. at Jackson.

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The new Dottie’s back dining room. Photo courtesy of Dottie’s.

I got the confirmation too late for last week’s column, but ~DOTTIE’S TRUE BLUE CAFE~ has officially opened in its new SoMa location (the former Passion Café). It’s spacious, with wood floors and a marble bar, and lookin’ good! The new location’s hours are as follows: Mon, Wed-Fri 7:30am-3pm and Sat-Sun 7:30am-4pm (which are new, extended hours!), closed Tue. 28 6th St. at Market, 415-885-2767.

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Kirnon’s famed fried chicken while at Hibiscus. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Last week, a tipster alerted me that chef Sarah Kirnon had left the restaurant ~HIBISCUS~ in Oakland. After calling her up, she didn’t want to talk about it at that moment, but now that the cat’s out of the bag, well, it’s out of the bag. In a text, she did mention she is going to do a pop-up at Bar Tartine on Monday February 13th, and is going to be working with the Starline Ballroom in Oakland on some projects. She also mentioned she’s helping a friend launch a sandwich shop in South San Francisco in late February.

Hibiscus contacted the Scoop with this information: they are launching a new menu on Thursday, a “revised comfortable and family friendly menu.” No word on who the new chef is.

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Bun rieu at Soup Junkie’s abode. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

After tasting a very delicious bowl of bun rieu noodle soup that home chef Hung Lam (aka ~SOUP JUNKIE~) kindly served me during a dinner party in his apartment a couple months ago, I was happy to hear he’s popping up this Friday January 27th at Vinyl Wine Bar. Hung’s bun rieu is a lovingly made soup with a six-hour crab- and tomato-based broth, with the most tender crab omelet tucked inside, plus housemade pork meatballs, rice vermicelli noodles, curled water spinach, bean sprouts, and fresh herbs. The recipe is his mother’s, and even though I haven’t tried his mom’s bun rieu, I imagine he’s doing it some very fine justice. $11 per bowl. There will also be a snack of crispy pig ears that are braised in spices for 15 hours, then fried. Hung is going to have enough for 40 bowls, serving from 6pm-10pm. Depending on turnout, he will hopefully do this again. Vinyl Wine Bar, 359 Divisadero St. at Oak, 415-621-4132.

A tweet announced ~JABLOW’S MEATS~ is taking over where Wise Sons left off, popping up with Saturday lunches at ~BEAST AND THE HARE~ from 11am-2pm. Look for housemade pastrami, bacon, and corned beef sandwiches, plus housemade ginger ale. 1001 Guerrero St. at 22nd St.

Tasting Table mentioned local seafood retail shop ~NEW ENGLAND LOBSTER CO.~ has added a food trailer in their parking lot, serving a lobster roll ($15.50), and one with crab meat ($14) on weekdays 11am-3pm; both rolls come with a side of coleslaw and a bag of chips. Menu and more here. 170 Mitchell Ave. at Harbor Way, South San Francisco, 650-873-9000.

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The Rich’Boy. Photo courtesy of Criolla Kitchen.

While the crew at ~CRIOLLA KITCHEN~ ramps up on their redesign, they decided to open for lunch in the meantime, serving a variety of po’ boys made with local and sustainable ingredients. Starting this Wednesday, you can swing by for a sandwich in three different sizes (shorty, full, or loaf). Choices include the Rich’Boy ($13/$20/$40) with braised American Wagyu beef and foie gras mayo; fried Louisiana Gulf shrimp ($10/$15/$30), caught and served fresh every day; and the pulled-smoked ham hock salad ($8/$12/$24) with cold ham hock, mayo, pickled okra, and Creole mustard. I know, they sound gooooood. There are 11 in all, with fried chicken, fried oysters, grilled andouille sausage, and more.

And based on the famed New Orleans sandwich’s famous history (they got their name because they were originally offered up for the striking street car motor men and conductors during the strike of 1929), Criolla is offering a 25% discount on all sandwiches to any street car and cable car drivers in San Francisco. It’s just counter service, but catering is available (yeah, I’d like to cater my office—army of one). Sandwiches served Mon-Fri 11am-3pm.

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The counter at u-sushi. Photo by Rebecca Kinney. © tablehopper.com.

Report by Rebecca Kinney, tablehopper intern.

~U-SUSHI~ opened on Market Street last week, bringing a fast-casual and healthy option to the Financial District. From the folks behind Ozumo, u-sushi brings takeout sushi to a new level. Customers can choose from about 40 ingredients which are hand-rolled before your eyes. The process, which takes less than a minute, is assisted by state-of-the-art machines from Japan. If you’ve ever made sushi and ended up with rice stuck all over your hands, you’ll really appreciate the first machine: it spreads white or brown rice in a perfectly even layer on your choice of seaweed or soy paper. The “u-chefs” then fill your roll with your choice of fish, vegetables, sauce, and garnishes before rolling it by hand for the final machine. Dubbed the “sushi elevator,” the machine lifts your roll through some very sharp blades to give you eight perfect pieces. The roll is quickly wrapped while you grab a green tea Arnold Palmer on your way out the door.

Take a look at the menu here. [Ed. note: Unfortunately I don’t see nary a mention of sustainability on the menu or website (or press release). Great, now we can deplete the diminishing quantities of unagi even quicker!] Open Mon-Fri 10:30am-7pm. 525 Market St. at 1st St., 415-543-7655.

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Hing Lung exterior. Yelp photo by Janet G.

After speaking at a panel on Saturday, I had a mad craving for a bowl of jook from ~HING LUNG~ in North Beach. Had I read SFoodie on Friday, I would have learned the place was closed before looking for parking and walking over three blocks to discover the same piece of news. What royally bummed me out was to learn the SF Department of Health was forced to not only close the place down, but to revoke its license for six months due to repeated violations (“the inspector found several recurring violations, including a severe cockroach and rat infestation and unsafe food handling facilities”). Damn. That grosses me out so much. I don’t even really care if they reopen now. Well, unless I see a 100 proudly displayed in the window. Hell, if the El Tonayense taco truck can do it…. 674 Broadway at Stockton.

Eater brings news that Ryan Scott is discontinuing his Brunch Drunk Love at Bruno’s after this weekend (January 28th-29th). In mid-February, he will be opening his new quick-service restaurant, ~PLEASE & THANK YOU~, serving salads, soups, and sandwiches. Scoop mentions he’ll be opening a second (and more tricked-out) location at 300 De Haro St. in April. 68 W. Portal Ave. at Vicente.

Eater also mentions ~LUNA~ in the Castro has closed. And it may have been closed for a while: someone on Yelp (posted on November 29th, 2011) said, “I find it interesting that basically I believe this place has closed and no one has even noticed.” Yeah, that pretty much sums it up. Fade to black. 558 Castro St. at 19th St.

Fans of ~HODO SOY~’s products should note the kiosk at the Ferry Building Marketplace is closed for a remodel until the end of February (when they will relaunch with some new offerings). So in case you’re jonesing for some of their spicy yuba strips, you’ll have to find it at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market on Tuesdays and Saturdays for now.

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Bang the drums! Photo courtesy of Presidio Social Club.

A few deals for your radar. First, on Sunday January 29th, ~PRESIDIO SOCIAL CLUB~ is celebrating its fifth anniversary with a par-tay. There will be two signature cocktails for $5, free Roederer Estate sparkling wine, and some free bites (Gruyère cheese toasts with tomato dip, fried chicken bites with buttermilk dressing, chicken liver pâté on rye toasts, pork and kimchi sliders, and dirty dozen beignets), along with live music. 3pm-6pm. All month long, PSC is serving a couple of their classic cocktails from the opening menu for $5 (Presidio Pink Lemonade and Gun Powder Cocktail). RSVP here.

~EPIC ROASTHOUSE~ and ~WATERBAR~ are turning four, and are celebrating on Sunday January 29th and Monday January 30th with special $4 and $44 offers. On the 29th, EPIC will offer a $44.44 prix-fixe menu featuring gumbo ya ya, cedar-smoked scallops seafood paella, Schmidt Ranch beef tenderloin, and chocolate soufflé for dessert. EPIC and Waterbar will both host a $4 happy hour on Sunday (3pm-6:30pm) and Monday (11:30am-6pm), with a signature cocktail, red and white wine, and beer.

I was happy to learn my neighborhood usual ~GREEN CHILE KITCHEN~ is offering half-off all regular breakfast burritos Mon-Thu (9am-12pm) and half-off all appetizers and drinks (excluding guacamole and Pacifico beer) for happy hour Mon-Thu (4pm-6pm) until the end of February. Why the deals? They’re celebrating their six-year anniversary. Maybe this will help make up for the sometimes cranky service and mixed-up to-go orders I seem to encounter there each month. Two new items to look for on the menu: stuffed sopaipillas (filled with meat or vegetables and topped in red or green chile) and carne adovada (pork marinated for 24 hours in red chile and spices). 1801 McAllister St. at Baker, 415-440-9411.

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Périgord black truffle; photo courtesy of Spruce.

Truffles. Crab. Nope, neither suck. At all. From January 23rd through February 5th, ~SPRUCE~ will have a Périgord black truffle menu for dinner service, including potato gnocchi, oxtail ravioli, and more. $125 per person, exclusive of tax and gratuity; $50 optional wine pairing.

~AMERICANO~ at Hotel Vitale is hosting a Crab and Champagne Dinner on Friday January 27th in the tented patio (and since the rain went away for the week, it should be a nice setting). Guests will enjoy local Dungeness crab served family-style with drawn butter and housemade sourdough bread, accompanied by Champagne and wine selections. Also on chef Kory Stewart’s menu: heirloom chicory salad with winter citrus, avocado, and ricotta salata, and apple-huckleberry pie with housemade vanilla ice cream for dessert. 6:30pm-8:30pm. $65 per person for three-course dinner, inclusive of tax and gratuity. Reservations must be booked by January 26th: call 415-278-3777 or book a 6:30pm reservation through OpenTable by visiting AmericanoRestaurant.com and noting “Crab & Champagne Dinner” in the Special Requests box.

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Noble Cafe. Photo from Facebook.

According to a tweet from ABC7 News, I learned the ~NOBLE CAFE~, reportedly the country’s first 100% carbon-neutral coffee shop, is now open in The Grand apartment building in Oakland. Although I’d like to shoot their website designer who makes me feel like I’m having an eye exam every time I click something on their website, the site mentions that the coffee is from Blue Bottle, with tea from Rishi. You can get French press, pour over, or siphon coffee, plus espresso drinks. There are pastries and some breakfast items, but an all-organic lunch menu will launch later. Open Mon-Fri 7am-7pm. You can read more about the café’s green practices on their Facebook page. 100 Grand Ave., Suite 111 at Valdez, Oakland, 510-444-3800.

And it’s already underway, but the second annual ~OAKLAND RESTAURANT WEEK~ is on now through Sunday January 29th. You can try a bunch of special prix-fixe menus priced at $20, $30, and $40, with drink specials often included. Check it out!

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Green Earth Cafe & Bakery exterior. Photo from Facebook.

An article in Berkeleyside mentions the opening of ~GREEN EARTH CAFE & BAKERY~, with a menu around macrobiotics, and what they are calling “L.O.V.E.S.” (local, organic, vegan, ethical, sustainable) principles. (Cough.) The menu includes soups (like “cream” of broccoli soup), salads, sandwiches, wraps, pizzas, and more—plus desserts. Chef Ciren Zhuoga “has cooked at Manzanita Restaurant in Oakland where she specializes in weekend brunch menus.” Breakfast, lunch, and Saturday brunch for now, and dinner is launching soon. 2124 Center St. at Shattuck, 510-981-8404.

And fans of cooking classes might want to swing by the opening party for the new and second location of ~KITCHEN ON FIRE~ in West Berkeley this Saturday January 28th (7pm-9pm). The mission of founder-chefs Olivier Said and MikeC. is “make great food accessible to everyone by demystifying kitchen and entertaining skills in a fun, technique-driven, empowering environment.” At the party, you can check out the space, sample some breads and pastries, and see what’s in store for the new spot. 2940 7th St. at Potter, Berkeley, 510-548-2665.

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B Restaurant Oakland’s group dining table. Photo from Yelp.

The Oakland location of ~B RESTAURANT & BAR~ has a new 510 Happy Hour, and it’s very much what it sounds like: locally focused with lots of 5s, 1s, and 0s. Tuesday to Friday between 5:10pm-6:10pm, all Alameda wines on the menu will be $5.10/glass, rotating cocktails with Hanger One or St. George will be $5.10, and a selection of local beers will also be $5.10. Local wines on their menu hail from Dashe Cellars, Urban Legend, JC Cellars, and Rosenblum Cellars. 499 9th St. at Washington, Oakland, 510-251-8770.

~BOCANOVA~ also has a new happy hour gig, which they’re dubbing Late Nite Boca Bite. Between 9pm-10:30pm Thursday to Saturday, you can get cocktails and Bocaditos at happy hour prices, like yucca and cheese fritters ($4), fried plantains with cilantro aioli ($3), oysters on the half shell ($1.50), Dungeness crab deviled eggs with chipotle aioli ($1.75), a daily taco with pickled cabbage ($3.50), and pork ribs with guava barbecue sauce ($2). Drink specials include special cocktails ($5), select wines ($6), and seven-ounce Linden Street beers ($2.50). Holla for late(r)-night eats! Their regular happy hour runs Mon-Sat 3pm-6pm. 55 Webster St. in Jack London Square, Oakland, 510-444-1233.