November 10, 2015

November 10, 2015

Great China’s famed double-skin dish. Photo: ©


Champagne Henriot Blanc de Blancs. Photo courtesy of Champagne Henriot.


The superlative Peking duck. Photo: ©


Surf clams. Photo: ©


Champagne Henriot Brut Rosé. Photo courtesy of Champagne Henriot.



Anyone who knows me knows how much I j’adore Champagne (just doing my part to delay the onset of dementia and improve spatial memory—like, where’s my glass?). And I also love any excuse to head to Berkeley for the extraordinary double-skin dish and Peking duck at the Yu family’s inimitable ~GREAT CHINA~, open since 1985, which also offers some of the best wine selections of any Chinese restaurant around. So let’s put it all together and have a fabulous dinner party, right?

I’m thrilled to announce I will be hosting a special Sunday banquet supper at Great China (my first tablehopper supper in the East Bay!), in partnership with the Champagne Henriot, on Sunday December 6th. Champagne Henriot is one of the oldest family-owned and family-managed Champagne houses (founded in 1808!), currently in the eighth generation with Thomas Henriot. James Yu of Great China sometimes pours Henriot by the glass, and it pairs so well with their many elegant (and often delicate) Shandong-rooted dishes (read more in my review here). Also elegant: Henriot’s house style, which is driven by Chardonnay, with long lees aging (it’s rich and focused, with elegance and finesse). Get excited for a night of tasting some gorgeous cuvées!

Take a look at our event’s extensive menu, which highlights many of Great China’s specialties. And we’ll be pouring the Champagne Henriot selections en magnum, always a special treat.

First Course
Champagne Henriot Brut Souverain
Fish Dumplings, Salt & Pepper Prawns, Zhen Jiang Spareribs, Double Skin

Second Course
Champagne Henriot Brut Rosé
Peking Duck

Third Course
Champagne Henriot Blanc de Blancs
Steamed Surf Clams with Garlic Rice

Fourth Course
Champagne Henriot Brut Millésime 2006
Ginger Scallion Crab with Noodles

Final Course
Champagne Henriot Brut Souverain
Cumin Lamb, Ant Climbed the Tree, Walnut Prawns, Snow Pea Leaves with Century Eggs, Guo Ta Tofu, Jasmine Rice

You won’t want to eat much that day, because this supper is a tour de force! We’re going to start at 5:30pm, and to be clear, it will be served family style. This is a banquet!

Tickets for the night are only $70, inclusive of tax and gratuity. (And since it’s the holidays, I will be making a donation to the SF-Marin Food Bank with some of the proceeds.) Hop to it, and I look forward to feasting and drinking exquisite Champagne Henriot with you!

Also worth noting: since we are going to be drinking, anyone coming from SF will be happy to know that the Downtown Berkeley BART station is less than four blocks away.


A test bowl of pork belly and noodles for the upcoming Arsenal. Photo via Facebook.

By Dana Eastland. This is some pretty cool news! Los Angeles-based food personality and forager Erik Sun has filed permits for two restaurants in San Francisco. Hoodline caught the news and mentions that there are two separate projects under way: ~ARSENAL~ and ~THE HUNTED~. Based on some social media stalking, it looks like Arsenal will be all about fresh-caught seafood and noodles, while The Hunted will focus on wild game.

Sun is an interesting personality: he writes a blog, The Pursuit of Food and is a hunter, sport fisher, and forager, as well as a partner and sometime chef at Bestia in Los Angeles. He told Hoodline that the first of the restaurants would open in early 2016 and the other next fall, though a Facebook post hints that Arsenal could be open as soon as February. We’ll update as we hear more! Arsenal: 715 Brannan St. at Harriet. The Hunted: 445 Harriet St. at Brannan.


Pizza from Academy, with arugula and an egg. Yelp photo by Jay S.


A Mexi-rice bowl from Chica. Photo via Facebook.

By Dana Eastland. As reported earlier this year, there are changes afoot at the former Pizza Inferno on Fillmore. The New Fillmore reports that it’s now softly open as ~ACADEMY~, from chef Nick Pallone and Peter Fogel. They’ve revamped the space, giving it a more open feel, with reclaimed wood tables and an open bar, plus they’ve added a wood-fired oven for Neapolitan-style pizzas. The menu is fun and seasonal, with a section of snacks, cured meats, vegetables, pizzas, and heartier main dishes. There are also 24 beers on tap and a selection of wines. Basically, it’s the perfect before-movie spot, with its location a block from the Sundance Kabuki. 1800 Fillmore St. at Sutter, 415-775-1800.

There’s a new place for breakfast and lunch now open near Levi’s Plaza. It’s called ~CHICA~, and as Hoodline originally reported, it’s a takeout window from chef-owner Maria Esquivel, who has been running a booth at Fort Mason’s Off the Grid. The food is California with Latin influence, or as Esquivel puts it, “American comfort, Latin attitude.” There are polenta bowls, Mexican-style rice bowls, and tortas, plus daily changing soups and drinks including coffee and freshly squeezed orange juice. Hours are Mon-Fri 8am-2:30pm. 120 Green St. at Battery, 415-757-0510.

~PICCOLO FORNO~, the new, casual addition to North Beach from the Ideale crew we reported on last month, is now open. Hoodline notes that the new spot opened softly on October 28th and is serving pizza, salads, espresso, pastries, and antipasti all day. Right now, they are waiting on their pizza oven, so they’re closed today but moving forward, hours are daily 10am-10pm. 725 Columbus Ave. at Filbert.


Tacos for lunch at Tacos Cala. Photo courtesy of Cala.

Exciting things keep happening at ~CALA~: today Gabriela Cámara and her team opened for lunch during the week. The back-alley taco spot is called Tacos Cala and is in the back of the restaurant (enter through Hickory Street).

The menu is focused on tacos de guisado, with three different options—meat, vegetarian, and vegan—that will rotate daily. The tortillas are made of corn that is nixtamalized in-house. There will also be aguas frescas, iced horchata coffee, and those who want to hang out at the standing table can order bottled beer and wine by the glass. Hours are Mon-Fri from 11am-3pm. Enter on Hickory Street (between Franklin Street and Van Ness Avenue).


The former Chino dining room. Photo courtesy of Chino.

I was sorry to hear over the weekend that ~CHINO~ was going to be closing, especially since I was really digging the new direction chef-partner Ron Pei was taking the menu, and Danny Louie’s cocktails were killing it. (Well, it wasn’t for lack of trying—the journey of perfecting the soup dumplings was notable in and of itself.)

SFist was first to report the closure, which happened yesterday (Monday). For now, owner Joe Hargrave says they are going to use the space for private events and pop-ups, and an entirely new concept will be coming in 2016. We’ll keep you apprised.


Fried egg banh mi from Rice Paper Scissors. Photo by Adria Lo via Facebook.

Fans of the banh mi and pho from Rice Paper Scissors will be sorry to hear that Valerie Luu and Katie Kwan are ending their daytime pop-up at ~BRICK & MORTAR MUSIC HALL~—the last day will be Friday November 20th. The good news? You can still catch them for dinner every Thursday at Mojo Bicycle Cafe. Also, the ladies are moving into a new kitchen, which has an event space, so look out for some special dinners in the future! They want to focus on finding their own space down the road, and you should also know that they are available for catering (hello, DIY Pho Bar).

Hawaiian brunch pop-up (and guava malasada pushers) Aina posted on their Facebook page that they are opening in a space in Dogpatch in 2016. Fantastic news! And according to some ABC application activity, it’s going to be in the former Ensoleillé (previously Cup of Blues) location. Stand by for updates in the new year! 900 22nd St. at Minnesota.

Fans of the Carolina-style barbecue from Sneaky’s BBQ will be pleased to know that chef Ben Thorne is now serving the Sneaky’s menu full-time at ~SOUTHPAW BBQ~. Vinegar-based pulled pork, dry-rub ribs, brisket, and chicken are all available—they use hormone- and antibiotic-free meats. Vegan options are also offered, and some Southpaw classics will remain on the menu, including the smoked pulled goat, the Natchez, grit cake, and fried pickles. Come by for some house-brewed craft beers, a cocktail, or a nip of whiskey from their extensive (100-plus) list. And if you come by for Nonprofit Mondays, 10 percent of Monday food sales will be donated to the nonprofit of the month.


Tacos from El Capitan for lunch. Photo courtesy of El Capitan.


Uttapam with eggs for brunch at Dosa. Photo: Dana Eastland. ©

By Dana Eastland. SoMa bar and restaurant ~EL CAPITAN~ is adding lunch to their lineup, as of today, November 10th. The new lunch menu includes options like their fry bread tacos with a variety of seasonal toppings, a selection of easy-to-share small plates like chicken wings with Cholula-ancho glaze, roast jalapeño crema, and cilantro, plus popular lunch dishes from the adjacent Carafe Cafe—think a pressed Cuban sandwich, jerk chicken wrap, and squash and kale salad. Lunch hours are Mon-Fri 11:30am-4pm. 1123 Folsom St. at Langton, 415-525-3676.

The Mission’s ~SALUMERIA~ is now serving weekend brunch on Saturdays and Sundays from 10am-6pm. The setup is casual and similar to their weekday lunch arrangement—you order at the counter and sit in the courtyard at Central Kitchen or one of the outdoor café tables. The menu includes egg dishes like scrambled eggs with pumpkin, goat cheese, spinach, and chile; or head in a sweet direction with apple cider donuts or the bacon-walnut sticky bun. There is also a selection of brunch cocktails, including the Pacifica and a build-your-own mimosa situation with a carafe of sparkling wine, a half carafe of freshly squeezed orange juice, garden herb syrup, and bitters. 3000 20th St. at Florida, 415-471-2998.

tablehopper favorite ~DOSA ON VALENCIA~ has launched weekend brunch, with lots of dishes including a flavor-packed Kerala egg curry served with chapati; traditional South Indian breakfast items like pongee, a savory rice porridge with lentils, ghee, and chutneys; or the egg and cheese dosa, their classic dosa filled with eggs, cheddar, and mozzarella. There are also brunch cocktails like the Tincho Spritzer with sparkling wine, lemon, mint, and green cardamom or the Hibiscus Sparkler with masala spice. They’re also importing coffee from South India to keep you buzzing all through your meal. Brunch hours are Sat-Sun 11am-3:30pm, only at the Valencia Street location.

Looking for some late-night street food in the Marina? ~LASAN~ has you covered with their Late Night at Lasan menu. It’s available on Fridays and Saturdays from 10pm-2am and is being cooked and served right on the sidewalk. The special menu includes snack items and finger foods, as well as naan wraps stuffed with chicken tikka, lettuce, tomato, onion, cilantro, and cucumber with mint and tamarind chutney and a choice of hot sauce for $8. Or go the fully fried route with a samosa, fries, and pakora combination for $6. Plus, beers are only $4 with food purchase. 3145 Fillmore St. at Pixley, 415-346-4900.


Seating and the Market Board at RN74. Photo courtesy of RN74.

As of this week, ~RN74~ is offering a pretty sweet deal on Sunday evenings. Their new Sunday feast includes eight to ten dishes served family style, for just $45 per person. Right now, the menu is inspired by Burgundy, but the regional inspiration will change every two months. The dinner menu will include three appetizers, followed by main dishes with sides, and a seasonal fruit tart with housemade ice cream for dessert. A $10 supplement will always be available, for those wanting to try a more luxurious dish. Wines from the highlighted region will be selected to pair with the food, available for $35 per 500-ml carafe.


Belinda Leong of b. patisserie, one of the many culinary talents taking part in the 12 Nights of Chocolate. Photo courtesy of Dandelion Chocolate.

You ready to make some hard decisions? Because these cool events will all be vying for your attention. Let’s start with the chance to enjoy some Russ & Daughters toppings on Tartine Bakery malted rye bagels as you thumb through the Mission Chinese Food Cookbook. Yes, you can enjoy a Super Heebster, at ~MISSION CHINESE FOOD~ here in SF! Events are on the mornings of Sunday November 15th and Monday the 16th from 10am-3pm ($60), or come by for dinner on the 16th and enjoy a sneak preview of the new MCF menu, cookies by Momofuku Milk Bar, and beer from Tiger Beer ($85). Read more and get tickets.

Pizza fanatics: Franco Pepe of Pepe in Grani (in Caiazzo, Caserta), lauded as a maker of the best pizza in the world, will be appearing at both ~A16 ROCKRIDGE~ (on November 16th, make reservations here) and ~A16~ San Francisco (on November 17th, resos here) as a guest pizzaiolo, serving a limited run of 100 pies each night. He’ll be importing many of his staple ingredients so that the pizzas meet his specs, an amazing opportunity for those who can’t travel to Campania!

Tuesday November 17th, ~BAR AGRICOLE~ is hosting an Autumnal Feast on the Patio with Full Belly Farm! Drinks and snacks at 6:30pm, dinner at 7pm, which includes a whole roasted lamb served family style, with collards, kabocha squash, pomegranate, almonds, and more. $99.

Warm up with friends on Friday November 20th at ~E&O KITCHEN & BAR~’s first Bottomless Hot Pot Dinner from chef Sharon Nahm, which will include a Lagunitas beer pairing and tasting with certified cicerone Tim Decker from Lagunitas Brewing Company. There will also be appetizers and dessert. Tickets for the evening event are $85 (including tax and gratuity) and can be purchased online here. 6:30pm.

Lastly, get your tickets for some of these ~DANDELION CHOCOLATE~ 12 Nights of Chocolate events with top SF chefs (the events are sweet and savory, and all feature Dandelion’s chocolate). Best of all, proceeds go to benefit the SF-Marin Food Bank.

From the first night on Wednesday December 2nd with Dominique Crenn (Atelier Crenn, Petit Crenn), Traci Des Jardins (Jardinière), Belinda Leong (b. Patisserie), and Alan Murray (Jardinière) doing wine pairings, to an event with Stephanie Prida (Manresa), Shawn Gawle (Quince), Nick Muney (Coi) creating a three-course dessert menu, each one sounds pretty fantastic. December 13th is the finale, with Nicole Krasinski (State Bird Provisions), Mikiko Yui (State Bird Provisions), and artist-chef Leah Rosenberg doing a night of dinner bites, matcha, a spirited shake, bubbles, and more. Check out all of these amazing events and get your tickets now.


The winners of the Good Food Awards 2015. Photo by Gamma Nine via Facebook.

By Dana Eastland. The Good Food Awards has announced the finalists for 2016 in all categories including spirits, beer, cider, and confections. The celebration of American food made with integrity culminates in January, when the winners will be announced at the awards ceremony on Friday January 15th at the Herbst Pavilion. Guests include Carlo Petrini of Slow Food, Alice Waters, and Nell Newman of Newman’s Own. Then, after the awards ceremony, don’t miss the awards gala, where the food will be available for sampling. Tickets to the ceremony are $120.

If you can’t make it to the awards ceremony, catch the marketplace on Saturday January 16th. The marketplace takes place at Fort Mason and includes the opportunity to try and purchase the winning products. Many of these items are not available in the Bay Area, so this represents a unique opportunity to try items from around the country. The marketplace runs from 9am-1pm and tickets are $5 per person. For entry at 8am, VIP tickets are also available for $20. Fort Mason, 2 Marina Blvd. at Laguna.


Food Bank photo via Mission Street Food blog.

As we’re ordering turkeys, figuring out who is on pumpkin pie detail, and deciding once and for all on the best green bean side dish, let’s not forget there are a lot of people in our community who could use some help with their holidays. From now until December 31st, the SF-Marin Food Bank needs 500,000 pounds of nonperishable food to help provide 10 million meals during the holidays. (The SF-Marin Food Bank serves 225,000 people each year, which includes families, children, seniors, and individuals living on a low-income budget.)

Let’s share our good fortune to the people in our community who are struggling to make ends meet. There are many ways you can help:
• Donating money: for every $1 donated, the Food Bank can provide $5 worth of food.
• Donating a turkey: the Food Bank hopes to provide 2,500 turkeys over the holidays.
• Volunteering: shifts are available every day of the week. People are encouraged to sign up for January and February, one of the most difficult times to secure volunteers.
• Hosting a food and fund drive. Registration is simple. Host a virtual drive or sign up to have a food barrel delivered to you.

You can find everything you need to know here, thank you for your help! And one more thing: if you can donate money by November 26th, Sutter Health has generously agreed to match your gift, dollar for dollar, up to a total of $50,000. That means your gift of $100 will double to $200, providing enough food for 600 meals. Fantastic.

Want to get something festive for your friends at work or for the kids coming to visit your house over Thanksgiving? How about a dessert with a purpose? For the eighth consecutive year, ~ONE MARKET~ restaurant is partnering with Make-A-Wish Greater Bay Area to present the Gingerbread Wishes program. From now until November 30th, you can buy freshly baked gingerbread stars that come with a cookie decorating kit. Each kit costs $10 and includes housemade cookies from pastry chef Patti Dellamonica-Bauler, cream cheese frosting, sprinkles, and candy toppings. And 100 percent of the proceeds benefit Make-A-Wish Greater Bay Area. You can decorate cookies at the restaurant too!