May 13, 2014

May 13, 2014

The entrance to China Live. Rendering: AvroKO.


The two Broadway buildings China Live will be located in. Photo: ©


The counter in the café area (note the blue-and-white tile). Rendering: AvroKO.


The dining area of China Live’s Market-Restaurant (with exhibition kitchen stations in the back). Rendering: AvroKO.


The retail area. Rendering: AvroKO.


A look into the raw space where the retail area will be located (the mezzanine will be demolished). Photo: ©


The view on the roof (and the future home of what will be one of the better roof decks in the city). Photo: ©

Yesterday I took a jaunt to Chinatown to meet with part of the ~CHINA LIVE~ team (which included founder George Chen, managing partner Richard Miyashiro, director of programming and corporate communication Janine Shiota, and director of marketing Doug Collister) to tour the space and hear more about the plans for the former Gold Mountain at 644 Broadway (you can read our previous piece here). The steel and concrete building was built by architect Philip Choy in the 1980s as part of a reimagined Chinatown and was a bit controversial at the time—I used to call it the Blade Runner dim sum house.

It’s an enormous project—20,000 square feet—and the goal is to open in time for Chinese New Year (February 2015). A big piece of exciting news: the talented AvroKO firm will be the designers of the project. (Locally, the creative New York-based firm has designed RN74 and The Thomas at Fagiani’s in Napa.)

China Live has multiple floors and components, so let’s walk through it. The 7,000-square-foot ground floor will open up into a 28-seat café area in the front, with a counter for ordering tea, coffee, pastries, and small bites. Farther back will be the main China Live Market-Restaurant’s seating area (which can be configured for larger groups) with table service, about 150 seats in all. For the tech-oriented, you’ll be able to reserve a table, preorder from any of the exhibition kitchens, and settle up the bill via your phone. (Or you can do things the usual way!) The space will have a look that is modern and warm, with lots of wood and some unique touches, like a tiled floor reminiscent of Chinese blue-and-white porcelain.

All the various stations of the exhibition kitchen (five in all) will be in the far back, ranging from a roast meats and charcuterie station (with its own takeout window) to steamed dim sum, a noodle bar, a seafood and raw bar, and a rice table with seasonal vegetables (there will also be some counter seats overlooking various stations). The cuisines offered will span Greater China, and will be prepared with sustainable, organic ingredients.

The 5,000-square-foot retail market will be going into the former pet store that flanks the building (660 Broadway)—you can enter it from the street or from the restaurant. It will have a serene look, with an earth-toned palette of wood, clay, ceramic, and concrete. There will be opportunities to taste and learn (and buy) all kinds of products, from tea to soy sauce to condiments, plus there will be cookware, cutlery, recipe stations, dry goods, and more. If you happen to love the chile sauce you had with your lunch, your server will be able to get you a jar and add it to your tab.

This retail portion is not going to be designed to just appeal to tourists who want to bring a wok home from their trip to SF; it’s meant to really be a bridge to understanding Chinese cuisine more deeply, providing information to locals and visitors alike—including how to season that wok. The team is looking at themselves as ambassadors of Chinese cuisine, and want to help diminish some of the mysteries surrounding it. Demos, classes, and videos will play a part in the experience, and look for a very engaging team that will walk you through the space and explain things fully.

The team took a research trip to Asia (four cities in two weeks), including Shanghai, Taipei, Hong Kong, and Singapore, with Cecilia Chiang in tow. They found a lot of inspiration for signage, graphics, and visuals that will be reflected in the design, and of course in the dishes.

On the second level is going to be Eight Tables by George Chen, a reservation-only, destination restaurant, which can be accessed through a back-alley entrance. There will also be a bar and lounge that will overlook Broadway (with room for 40); Chen explained it will evoke a Shanghai experience (more on that soon), and I was excited to hear they are going to be bringing a retro 1970s-1980s aesthetic to life to match the building (not cheesy though—think more chrome and padded chairs).

Farther back will be the Madame’s Parlour, which will function as the private dining room (48-50 seats), and will also handle overflow for the lounge—it will be a flexible space, with banquette seating around the room. There will be more classic Chinese elements, like a chinoiserie fireplace panel, lots of jade green tones, and Chinese vases.

In the far back will be Eight Tables, which will have a sophisticated and monochromatic, cream-toned palette. Some renderings showed wall treatments that were evocative of Chinese landscape paintings and textiles. The restaurant will have 42 seats total, include 4-6 seats in a demo area of the kitchen. The 12-course menu will be created by Chen, and executed by the two chefs he has hired for the project, who are currently at a fine-dining restaurant in Shanghai (one will be chef de cuisine, and the other will be a senior sous chef)—both are in their early 30s and have spent their entire lives cooking. Chen said they are going for a Michelin star rating with the project—he said the dishes will be superfine, with the best sourcing or very rarefied ingredients, and seasonal ones too. There will be two menus: one will be classic and the other will be more innovative, but both very elaborate. The wine list and service will also be top quality.

There are also plans to eventually open the roof—it has a spectacular view that includes Coit Tower, the Transamerica building, nearby cathedrals, and the Bay Bridge. They need to reinforce it, and will creating a glassed-in area—look for this part to launch after the main opening.

The basement is where the theater is (it has been dormant for 12 years), with room for 250, and there will be a spacious lobby with room for concessions (and food provided by China Live, of course). They are currently determining who the partner will be for theater programming (like an independent film fest), and on the very top floor will be the offices of the San Francisco Film Society.

We’ll be providing regular updates of this engaging project, which is going to be quite the culinary and cultural destination in the heart of Chinatown. 644 Broadway at Stockton.


Mitsunori Kusakabe (while at Sushi Ran). Flickr photo by Gina Collecchia/The Intrepid Traveler.

Things are getting close for ~KUSAKABE~, the new sushi restaurant opening with Mitsunori “Nori” Kusakabe at the helm (you can see our previous post here). The intimate 31-seat space will be focused on serving sushi in a kaiseki style, based on seasonality and harmony. This multicourse format has its roots in the Japanese tea ceremony, and is created around goshoku, gomi, gokan, gohou (“five colors, five tastes, five senses, five methods”). The color palette is white, purple, yellow, red, and green; the tastes include sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and spicy; you all know the five senses; and the five cooking methods include raw, roasting, boiling, frying, and simmering. The menu will be primarily focused on sushi, but as you can see with the five cooking methods, there will be other types of dishes as well. Again, it will also change often with the seasons.

Another thing to note is that chef Nori will be highlighting different styles of sushi, and not just the more widely known Edomae (Tokyo) style—he will reportedly be showcasing some more ancient styles as well.

We were able to secure a draft copy of the omakase menu (please note the dishes are subject to change, depending upon ingredient availability), and there is also going to an à la carte menu guests can order from as a supplement to the omakase menu (ikura, I am looking at you!). Also worth noting: dessert is not included in omakase.

We also have a draft of the wine, beer, and sake list, although prices on it will be finalized shortly.

While the team can’t release an opening date just yet (inspections pending), we will have more details for you on the space and the official opening date next week—although you can make reservations for May 24th and onward now. Open Tue-Sun 5pm-10pm. 584 Washington St. at Columbus.


Seating at Papito West, with mural by Matthew James McGowan in the background. Photo: Dana Eastland. ©


The open kitchen and a peek at the bar. Photo: Dana Eastland. ©


The exterior. Photo: Dana Eastland. ©

A report by Dana Eastland. As previously reported in tablehopper, Jocelyn Bulow of Chez Maman and co-owner David Alexander are expanding a second Potrero mainstay into Hayes Valley. This time, it’s a second outpost of Papito, called ~PAPITO WEST~. It’s going into the former Moishe’s Pippic space (which sadly closed after 26 years) and is opening Monday May 19th.

The space has been almost unrecognizably transformed, from a deli of a certain vintage to a clean, sleek, modern space. The exterior is bright red and modern, though they have kept the shape of the round sign. The ceiling has been stripped to reveal exposed wood beams, and a skylight has been added, making the space feel open and airy. A chandelier of bundled, exposed bulbs adds the minimal and open vibe. A bar up front seats eight, while two leather banquette booths in the back can hold larger groups. Windows open to the street, where three tables will offer outdoor seating as well. The back wall is completely covered in a Dia de los Muertos-inspired mural by artist Matthew James McGowan, giving it a distinctly San Francisco style.

The menu by chef Reynol Martinez—most recently at Machka in the FiDi—is in the same vein as the original Papito (think organic Mexican food, with antojitos, tacos, burritos, quesadillas, tortas, and larger plates), but with a focus on seafood and the addition of a raw bar. There will be a changing oyster of the day, as well as a crudo plate, and a shellfish platter with oysters, prawns, mussels, and clams. Ceviche makes an appearance as well, and the mignonette will have a bit of a kick from jalapeño and other Latin ingredients. There is also more seafood on the on the entrée list, from striped sea bass served Veracruz style to mussels in a green broth with tequila, corn, zucchini, and bell peppers.

An expanded bar menu matches the less-casual vibe of this new location. The wine list will have 10 options of both red and white, along with a rosé and three different bubbly choices. There are six beers on tap, including Anchor IPA, Ommegang Rare Vos, Negra Modelo, and Pacifico. They’ve also got a selection of margaritas made with agave wine, including a spicy chipotle version. The beer and wine license should be kicking in any day now, hopefully in time for the opening.

The opening date is Monday May 19th, and hours will be Mon-Fri 11:30am-11pm, and Sat-Sun for brunch 10:30am-4pm and dinner 4pm-11pm. A happy hour may be coming soon too. 425A Hayes St. at Gough, 415-554-0541.


The patio at Palm House, still a work in progress. Photo from Facebook.

In Cow Hollow, the former Nettie’s Crab Shack is getting ready to reopen as ~PALM HOUSE~ on Wednesday May 21st. The project comes from Anderson Pugash (Bergerac), Bruce McDonald (Bergerac, Foreign Cinema), Benson Wang, and Gayle Pirie (Foreign Cinema), and is a tropical-inspired bar and restaurant, with a seasonal California influence.

We’ll be running photos and a more in-depth look at the whole project in next week’s newsletter, but for today we’ve got a first look at the menu. Pirie worked on the menu with Lea Walker (Foreign Cinema), and will be running the kitchen at Palm House. It includes many influences from warmer regions of the world, including places like Cuba, Brazil, Indonesia, Hawaii, and the Caribbean. You’ll find snacks like the fried jalapeños with smoked guava salt ($6.50) or Calypso chicken wings with Thai-style chile sauce ($7.50), as well as entrées that include lots of seafood, including a West Indian jerk grilled mahimahi ($23) or kalua duck tacos with pineapple salsa and pickled cabbage.

Anthony Parks (of Bergerac and Audio) is heading up the bar, with plenty of fun and refreshing tropical flavors. Look for classics like mai tais and margaritas, along with punch bowls for groups. They’ve even installed a slushy machine to make blended drinks.

As for the historic space, we’ll be running more details with pics next week, but a few details to note are that there will be outdoor seating under a Victorian-style pergola, as well as a relaxing, tropically inspired vibe inside. Once they open, hours will be dinner Wed-Sun 5pm-12am and brunch Sat-Sun 10am-2pm. 2032 Union St. at Buchanan, 415-400-4355.


The exterior of the former Tortilla Heights. Photo from Facebook.

As reported in tablehopper last month, Divisadero mainstay Tortilla Heights has been sold to partners Miles Palliser and Ezra Berman of the Corner Store, along with a third partner, Neil Holbrook of The Kezar Pub. We’ve got some details on their plans for the new space, including the name: ~SAN FRANCISCO ATHLETIC CLUB~ (SFAC).

The new project is a sports bar, but with lots of fun twists to make it a little different. There will be a whopping 28 televisions, showing the usual American sports like baseball, football, and basketball, as well as more international favorites like soccer and rugby, and audio will be a priority. The space is being redone by Clint Miller, who also worked on Corner Store and Sabrosa, and will include a 20-seat bar and pullout bleachers for big games. There will also be a pool table and a shuffleboard table.

The bar menu will include 12-16 beers on tap, and more by the bottle, with both local microbrews and lighter crowd-pleasing choices too. And when we say crowd, how about beer by the bathtub? Yup, you can get beer by the bottle, by the bucket, or by the bathtub: for groups sitting in one of the four reservable booths, customers can order beer by the case, served boothside in an ice-filled porcelain bathtub. Move over bottle service, now there’s bathtub service.

The cocktail list will have something for everyone, with a focus on whiskey and tequila. There will also be eight wines on tap. As for food, Matt Rosson and Sam Kazik, sous chefs at the Corner Store will be working on the menu, and it will be a balance of heartier pub fare along with lighter, more produce-driven options.

The current plan is to open by Thursday June 12th, when the World Cup kicks off. Once they’re open, hours will be Tue-Fri 11am-10pm, Sat-Sun 9am-10pm, with bar hours and snacks available even later into the evening, and do note there will be breakfast on the weekend. They will also be open earlier and later to accommodate game times. 1750 Divisadero St. at Bush.


The future home of the large Dogpatch project. Photo from Google Streetview.

A big project is coming to Dogpatch next year, according to The Oregonian and Eater. The team behind the project is impressive: locals Sam Mogannam of Bi-Rite, the group behind Napa Valley Distillery, energy financier Adam Mendelson, and a new name in San Francisco, Kurt Huffman, the Portland restaurateur who runs the ChefStable group. His restaurants include Ox, Block and Tackle, and Lardo in Portland, as well as the new Miller’s Guild in Seattle.

The new project is moving into a former boiler plant at 19th and 3rd streets, and will include a restaurant with 100 seats, as well as a catering operation, event space, and a distillery. There’s no name yet, but the restaurant should be more casual and the kitchen will likely feature a wood-fired grill, much like Huffman’s Ox and Miller’s Guild. Bi-Rite will head up the catering side of the operation, as well as running the parties and events, while Napa Valley Distillery will operate the small distillery. There will also be a bar (hopefully on the roof, eventually) and a private bar space for parties. Of course, there is still a lot of permitting and planning to work out, so this one could be awhile. For now, the timeline is for a May 2015 opening. 3rd and 19th Sts.


The bar at Gashead Tavern. Photo: Dana Eastland. ©


Loving Cup’s vanilla rice pudding with fresh strawberries. Photo via Facebook.

Here’s a recap of this week in openings! First, as we have been tracking all along the past few weeks, we can happily confirm today is the day ~OUTERLANDS~ reopens for lunch, serving 10am-3pm. Weekend brunch is also coming up (9am-3pm), and there will be extended hours after that! Look forward to seeing the expanded space, the new menu from chef Greg Kuzia-Carmel, the expanded cocktail list, and more.

Another opening we shared a sneak peek of in April is ~GASHEAD TAVERN~, which just opened in the former Charanga on Mission last Friday. We shared all the details in our previous post, but here’s another peek at the menu for you by Matt Nudelman, previously of Lower Haight’s Greenburger’s. Opening hours are 4pm-2am for the bar and 4pm-9pm for the kitchen. 2351 Mission St. at 20th St., 415-757-0554.

Due to open this Thursday May 15th is the Hayes Valley location of ~LOVING CUP~, the rice pudding shop that has its original location on Polk Street. There will also be housemade ice cream, sorbet, nonfat and all-natural frozen yogurt, and some vegan and nondairy options too (as originally reported in Eater). There are also 20 seats for guests, and the larger tables are built for birthday parties. Hours for now will be 11am-9:30pm. 535 Octavia St. at Ivy, 415-701-0091.


The stuffed brioche doughnuts from Mr. Holmes. Photo: ©

Over the weekend, I noticed this Tenderlife blog post about a bakery coming to Larkin Street, and San Francisco magazine confirms it’s going to be the first brick-and-mortar location from ~MR. HOLMES~, who I mentioned in a recent piece about local doughnnut makers. Look for an opening in July/August. 1042 Larkin St. at Sutter.

One of our fabulous readers wrote in this week with a hot tip that Sea Ranch bakery ~TWOFISH BAKING COMPANY~ is opening a location here in the city. An announcement on their Facebook page confirms the rumor, and says that they’ll be moving to Ritch Street near South Park. Their current location on the Sonoma Coast is famous for morning buns, sticky buns, and croissants, as well as their pizzas and sandwiches. They’re also famous for selling out of their goodies. 240 Ritch St. at Bryant.


Chucky Dugo’s dreamy fraisier pour deux. Photo: ©

Last week at a preview tasting for the soon-to-open ~GASPAR BRASSERIE~ (it’s opening on Thursday May 22nd!), I was very surprised to suddenly see pastry chef Chucky Dugo come out of the kitchen to tell us about the stunning dessert courses. It ends up that after many years (and two stints) as the executive pastry chef for the Slanted Door Group (since 2008), he has left that position to become the executive pastry chef at Gaspar. His future role with the Bon Repas Restaurants group—which includes Gitane, Café Claude, and Claudine—will be revealed after the Gaspar opening, which is his primary focus right now.

The desserts we tasted included a gorgeous Paris-Brest and le fraisier pour deux, a strawberry and pistachio cake with pistachio mousseline and toasted financier (exquisite!). I know a new restaurant where I’ll be saving room for dessert.

We’ll have more details on the restaurant, menus, and pics next week! 185 Sutter St. at Kearny.


Tony Gemignani. ©


The new Proper Food space. Photo by Eva Kolenko, courtesy Proper Food.

~TONY’S PIZZA NAPOLETANA~ is celebrating five years in business this summer, and to celebrate, owner Tony Gemignani is going to start opening the restaurant on Mondays. Starting Monday May 19th, you can get those pies in your belly from 12pm-10pm every Monday. Do note, though, that they are still closed on Tuesdays, and still no reservations.

A new place to relax is moving onto Divisadero, according to Hoodline. It’s called ~KAVA LOUNGE SAN FRANCISCO~, and will serve kava, the root of a plant from the South Pacific. It’s a traditional drink throughout Polynesia, and is generally used as a sedative. It’s been shown to relieve social anxiety, according to the Wikipedia entry, and help with sleeplessness. The new lounge comes from Alva Caple, who plans to offer a relaxing environment, complete with a living moss wall and “mystical music.” Kava shots will range in price from $5-$9, and will also be available in “herbal cocktails” for $4-$15. The opening is currently set for this summer. 901 Divisadero St. at McAllister.

Downtown office workers have a new option for grab-and-go breakfast and lunch: ~PROPER FOOD~, now open in SoMa. The new spot offers a selection of seasonal, housemade choices, all available to go. At breakfast, look for breakfast sandwiches and a yogurt parfait. Then, at lunch, you’ll find more sandwiches, soups, salads, and lunch plates. Take a peek at the menu here. They also offer coffee, fresh juice blends, and sweet snacks. Office catering is available. Hours are Mon-Fri 7am-3pm. 100 1st St. at Mission (entrance on Mission), 415-992-6781.

Looks like there are some ch-ch-ch-changes coming soon at ~SOCIAL KITCHEN & BREWERY~. Chef Chris Wong let us know that he is leaving the stoves there on Thursday May 22nd to focus on his new project, Blueprint Taproom, which opened in September. There’s no word yet on the new chef, but the parting is amicable and Wong is involved in finding and training a replacement.


TheLab’s communal table and high-top tables. Photo: Tom Seawell Photography.

We received word last week that Recchiuti’s Dogpatch cafe, recently renamed ~THELAB~, has sadly closed. It ends up business has been good—in fact, dinner service was really picking up. But unfortunately the closure is due to some restrictions on their permit that they were not made aware of that went into effect in 2012 (like “no airborne oil,” which means no frying eggs in a pan—uh, there goes brunch). Speaking with Jacky Recchiuti, she said they are looking more into what their permit does and doesn’t allow, and are potentially going to convert it into a private event space. We will provide updates about what’s next for the location; stand by.


On Saturday May 17th, local author Karletta Moniz will be teaching a class at ~CAVALLO POINT~ on all things chocolate. You’ll have a chance to taste six different chocolates, from milk to the darkest dark chocolate. She’ll also be discussing the growing and transport of chocolate, and pairing each of the samples with a special beverage. The class is from 1pm-3pm and tickets are $85 per person. Plus, taking a class gets you 20 percent off a room at the hotel, if you’d like a little weekend getaway. 601 Murray Circle at Kober, Sausalito, 415-339-4777.

Are you ready? The fabulous Ruth Reichl is going to be in Palo Alto for a talk at The Commonwealth Club on Tuesday May 20th at 7pm. She’ll be talking about her new novel, Delicious!, her first foray into fiction. She’ll be signing books, as well, and discussing her inspiration for the book. Tickets are $20 for the general public, $15 for members, and $8 for students with valid ID. Schultz Cultural Hall, Oshman Family JCC, 3921 Fabian Way at E. Charleston, Palo Alto.

Then, on Wednesday May 21st, she’ll be here in town at ~OMNIVORE BOOKS~, signing books from 6:30pm-7:30pm. The event is completely free and books will be available for purchase.


A Farm Burger. Photo by Antoinette Bruno via Facebook.

Burgers make the world go round, and here’s some news for your burger radar. First up, Georgia burger chain ~FARM BURGER~ is getting ready to open a location in Berkeley. It’ll be their first outside of the South (right now they have three locations in Georgia and one in North Carolina), and is set to open this fall. The concept is similar to places like Super Duper Burger and New York’s Shake Shack, with relatively inexpensive burgers made with high-quality, local meat and quality toppings and sides, along with charming graphic design. Oh, and of course, milk shakes! Here’s a menu from one of their Atlanta-area locations to give you a sense of their mojo, and here’s hoping that $6.75 price tag survives the move west! 1319 9th St. at Gilman, Berkeley.

Over at ~UMAMI BURGER~, the newest in their “artist series” is ready to roll, and it’s a doozy. The special burger comes from Spanish chef José Andrés, and is a pork and prosciutto patty topped with a piquillo pepper confit, caramelized onion, and Manchego cheese ($15). A dollar from each burger will be donated to his foundation, World Central Kitchen. He’s also created a menu of small bites for $2, including patatas bravas and green olive pintxos. The special menu will be available beginning Tuesday May 20th at all Umami locations for about a month or so (the end date of the promotion is TBD). San Francisco locations: 2184 Union St. at Fillmore, 415-440-8626, and 242 King St. at 3rd St., 415-904-8626. Oakland location: 2100 Franklin St. #2190, at 21st St., 510-899-8626.


The very small and very hip Coloso Coffee in Uptown Oakland. Photo from Facebook.

Those ever-vigilant Chowhounders caught that Oakland’s Taco Grill has moved across the street and changed names to ~OBELISCO~. Fans of their tacos will be pleased to hear that the menu has not changed, but East Bay Express reports that the new space will allow them to add full service and more menu items at dinner soon. 3411 E. 12th St. at 34th Ave., Suite 110, Oakland. 510-534-3752. reports that there’s a new coffee joint in Uptown Oakland. It’s called ~COLOSO COFFEE~, and they’re serving Sightglass coffee, as well as pastries from Mutsumi Takehara of Sandbox Bakery. Hours are Mon-Fri 7am-5pm, Sat 9am-2pm, closed Sunday. 1715 Webster St. at 17th St., Oakland.

In Albany, Berkeleyside Nosh has some sad news. It looks like family-owned Middle Eastern restaurant ~ZAKI KABOB HOUSE~ is being forced to close as of June 1st. The building has been put on the market after the landlord passed away last year, according to this profile in Berkeleyside, and now the family is looking for a new location. They are hoping to find a new home for their well-regarded rotisserie chicken and other dishes. Until June, their hours will be limited, as well. Dinner daily 5pm-9pm, lunch Fri-Sun only from 12pm-3pm. 1101 San Pablo Ave. at Dartmouth, Albany. 510-527-5452.

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