February 10, 2015

February 10, 2015
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The interior of Ginto Izakaya Japonaise. Yelp photo by Elmo S.

There’s a massive new project on Market Street from Japanese company Ramla, called ~GINTO IZAKAYA JAPONAISE~. Eater reports that the restaurant corporation currently has more than 100 eateries around the world. This it their first outpost of the Ginto concept in the United States, though their Oto-Oto and Gyoro-Gyoro in Southern California are reportedly quite similar. Apparently, they’ve got a little bit of everything going on: yakitori, a robata grill, sushi and sashimi, ramen, and tempura, all made by chefs brought over from Tokyo. The aim is to offer an “authentic” experience, similar to what you’d find in Japan. Like we mentioned, the space is huge, clocking in at more than 6,800 square feet with room for more than 200 people. They’ve also got a full liquor license, which means you’ll find cocktails, Japanese whisky, sake, and beer. For now, Ginto Izakaya is open for dinner only, but all-day service is coming in mid-March. Hours are daily 4pm-10pm. 658 Market St. at Geary, 415-530-2466.

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Tea-smoked duck from Five Happiness. Yelp photo by Kevin W.

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The cheerful dining room at Marla Bakery. Photo courtesy of Marla Bakery.

After six months of being closed for remodeling, I’m happy to report ~FIVE HAPPINESS~ has reopened. (Every time I’d drive by, I was looking to see if they were open yet.) The Shanghainese/Taiwanese restaurant has been open since 1975, and genial owner Bill Yang says they’re happy to be back. Fans of their hot soy milk and doughnuts on the weekend should be pleased. Look for some new dishes on their banquet menus too. 4142 Geary Blvd. at 6th Ave., 415-387-1234.

And here’s more news from ~MARLA BAKERY~: after their Valentine’s Day dinner service this February 14th (which is kind of an awesome menu for just $50), they will be temporarily shelving dinner service. Newly hired chef de cuisine Duncan Holmes is leaving SF. Taking the place of dinner service will be some upcoming pop-ups, including Workshop from Rachel Sillcocks (Range) and Kristina Compton (Range), the next one is Monday February 23rd. And Amy and Joe are going to be busy with their new baby, who is expected to arrive in June (congrats!). One more item of note: Saturday brunch is coming on February 28th, heehaw! 3619 Balboa St. at 37th Ave., 415-742-4379.

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The exterior of L&G Vietnamese Sandwich. Photo: Rebecca Kinney © tablehopper.com.

Tablehopper intern Rebecca Kinney caught the news that there is a new banh mi shop in the Tenderloin, called ~L&G VIETNAMESE SANDWICH~. It just opened on January 29th, and she reports that the service is friendly, the vegetables fresh and crisp, and the interior space is clean. A photo of the menu reveals that all sandwiches are $4, and a small selection of appetizers are also available. Hours are daily 7am-5pm. 602 Eddy St. at Larkin, 415-345-1878.

There’s a new taker for the former Cuco’s space in the Lower Haight, called ~EMMANUEL CAFE~. Hoodline reports that owner Irene Parada Quinteros will offer plenty of coffee, along with Salvadorean and Yucatecan food like pupusas, cochinita pibil, and breakfast items. 488 Haight St. at Fillmore.

Acai bowls are now available on Polk Street at ~BASIK CAFE~, according to Scoop. This is the first mainland location of the Hawaiian café, specializing in smoothies and bowls of fruit and granola made with the Brazilian berry. Hours are Tue-Sun 8am-4pm. 1958 Polk St. at Pacific.

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The interior at Picnic on Third. Photo courtesy Picnic on Third.

For a new brunch, check out ~PICNIC ON THIRD~ every Sunday from 10am to 2pm. Owners Natalia Bushyager and Leigh Loper will be serving brunch fare like chile-braised pork with sage polenta, collard greens, and poached eggs, or try Leigh’s pancakes made with custom-milled four-grain flour from The Mill and served with blood orange syrup and cultured butter. Check out the full menu here, and note you can also get mimosas, coffee from HalfWit, and espresso from Contraband. 493 3rd St. at Bryant, 415-590-7121.

Now you can get dinner at ~JUST FOR YOU CAFE~ on Fridays and Saturdays from 5:30pm to 10pm. The menu includes lots of new dishes, including a chicken and andouille sausage gumbo, black-eyed pea cakes with kale and Brussels sprout slaw, and buttermilk fried chicken. They’ve also added new beer and wine choices to pair with the new menu. 732 22nd St. at Tennessee, 415-647-3033.

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The Moroccan Wes, a recent special at Wes Burger. Photo courtesy Wes Burger.

Burger maestro ~WES BURGER~ has been doing Wednesday pop-ups up at Mojo Bicycle Café for a while now. For the month of February, Wes Rowe will be switching things up a bit, with a different style of burger each week (still on Wednesdays only). This week is the Return of Uncle Brother’s Chicken, a buttermilk fried chicken sandwich with pickle slaw and sambal aioli, followed by the Breakfast Wes Burger on February 18th, a pork-beef burger patty (reminiscent of Texas breakfast sausage) with bourbon- and maple-glazed bacon, an egg, and hash browns. The final week will be the Juicy Lucy on February 25th, which is a double all-brisket patty burger with bourbon caramelized onions and cheese. Follow along for updates on each week’s burger here. 639-A Divisadero St. at Grove.

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No more communal tables: the new banquette seating in the front of Barbacco. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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The new look at The Pub at Ghirardelli Square. Photo: Tev Lee Photography.

A few places around town are starting the year with some freshening up and remodeling. So if you walk into any of these places and do a double take, now you know. First up, ~BARBACCO~ has changed their front dining area. The former communal tables are gone (owner Umberto Gibin explains diners in the Financial District don’t like to have their conversations overhead so easily by strangers), and now there is banquette seating instead, with tables for two to six. (Interestingly, there are the same number of seats.) All the tabletops throughout the restaurant are black slate as well.

Next, ~THE PUB AT GHIRARDELLI SQUARE~ has really lightened things up, moving away from the Irish pub feeling and more toward the rustic/industrial side, thanks to Oakland’s SRG Architects and seating upgrades by Big Daddy’s Antiques. Owner Scott Broccoli also added some new menu items and cocktails. 851 Beach St. at Polk, 415-351-0500.

~MAYES~ on Polk also got a new look, and a new management team too: Matt Corvi (Velvet Lounge), Johnny “Love” Metheny (Johnny Love’s), and Nick Pigott (The Pigott Group). The look is a bit clubby-meets-Gothic cathedral in the back, with some dramatic lighting for the dance area. Swing by every Thursday and Friday for happy hour, and Johnny “Love” Metheny will be taking over the bar making cocktails and serving his very own Kobe beef burger. Happy hour drink specials include $5 draft beers and $6 well drinks. 1233 Polk St. at Fern, 415-885-1233.

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The staff at the new Blue Bottle in Tokyo celebrates. Photo from Facebook.

~BLUE BOTTLE COFFEE~ has just opened their first café and roastery in Tokyo’s Kiyosumi area, and now they have another exciting project under way: Blue Bottle and ~TARTINE BAKERY & CAFE~ are partnering on a bakery and café in Tokyo’s Daikanyama district. SF artisan OGs James Freeman (Blue Bottle) and Tartine’s Chad Robertson and Elisabeth Prueitt have talked about partnering in the past, so now they are bringing the idea to fruition. The 2,000-square-foot space is due to open this spring.

Fans of Santa Cruz’s Verve Coffee Roasters are going to be able to enjoy Verve’s first SF café at Church and Market in the former Veo Optics. Hoodline mentions Fuse Architecture will be designing the space (they also designed Verve’s roastery). We’ll share more when we hear back from Verve. 2109 Market St./210 Church St.

Another update from Hoodline: ~REPOSE COFFEE~ is back on track and should reportedly be opening sometime this month in the former Magpie and Rye space on Divis. Owner James Grogan also has a Repose in Sebastopol. They will be serving Ritual Coffee, along with panini, salads, and quesadillas (including a gluten-free version), plus treats from Sweetmue. And yes, it’s just across the street from where Sightglass Coffee will be opening their upcoming café this summer. The neighborhood is gonna be wired. 262 Divisadero St. at Page.

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The deli case at Communitē Table. Photo from Facebook.

Intrepid Chowhounders caught the opening of ~KOUZINA GREEK STREET FOOD~ in Oakland’s Montclair neighborhood last month. The “street food” seems to refer to souvlaki and gyros, which dominate the menu along with daily specials like moussaka and roast leg of lamb. Hours are Mon-Sat 11am-9pm and Sun 11am-8pm. 2064 Antioch Ct. at Mountain, Oakland, 510-339-1020.

Back in August, Berkeleyside reported on the upcoming ~COMMUNITĒ TABLE~. It’s now open, according to East Bay Express, serving seasonal salads, sides, and entrées. The space offers seating on the outdoor patio, and items can be selected from a case for either dine-in or takeout. Hours are Mon-Thu 11am-7pm, Fri-Sat 11am-8pm, closed Sun. 4171 MacArthur Blvd. at Maybelle, Oakland, 510-482-2114.

East Bay Express is also reporting on an unfortunate closure in West Oakland: ~B-SIDE BBQ~ from chef Tanya Holland has closed. It’s not all bad news, though. According to a note on the restaurant’s website, Holland will reopen the space as B-Side Baking Co., an offshoot of the bakery at nearby Brown Sugar Kitchen run by Celeste Scott. They will be serving coffee, baked goods both sweet and savory, and the neighboring Barn will continue to function as a music venue. 3303 San Pablo Ave. at 33rd St., Oakland.

The SF|Noir Wine & Food Festival is kicking off on Wednesday February 25th and bringing many special events to the Bay Area through Sunday March 1st. The various events will explore black cuisine, culture, and contributions to the arts during the last week of February, which is Black History Month. There is a lot you can check out here, including a special Shrimp, Grits, and Greens event on Wednesday February 25th at 7pm at Impact Hub in Oakland, with chefs from restaurants including Miss Ollie’s, Picán, and Flora. Don’t miss it! Tickets for events vary in price, starting at $10, or consider purchasing an all-access pass for $80. Locations vary.