March 29, 2016

March 29, 2016
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The exterior of Arsenal, with the Noodle Bar to the left. Rendering courtesy of Erik Sun.

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Erik Sun and a broomtail grouper. Photo courtesy of Erik Sun.

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Santa Barbara sea urchin. Photo courtesy of Erik Sun.

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A potential dish for The Hunted: handmade pasta with uni served in an uni shell. Photo courtesy of Erik Sun.

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Erik Sun (left) at Dario Cecchini’s restaurant in Panzano. Photo courtesy of Erik Sun.

Back in November, we mentioned Los Angeles-based Erik Sun has two upcoming projects in San Francisco, ~ARSENAL~ and ~THE HUNTED~, and now I have an update to share with you about these exciting projects coming to SoMa.

Sun’s background is in Southern California: he’s a self-taught chef who is known for the 10-course house meals he’d make from his hunting/fishing excursions. He has staged for Gino Angelini (Osteria Angelini) and is a partner, collaborator, and close friend of the folks at Bestia in Los Angeles.

First up will be Arsenal, targeting a July/early summer opening in SoMa at 715 Brannan Street, in a 2,000-square-foot space that is kitty-corner to the Flower Mart. There will be a focus on Asian flavors, and the dining room will have smokeless individual barbecue grills. The room will have around 45-55 seats, with a couple of eight-tops, a chef’s table, and some four-tops too.

There will be an omakase tasting menu that will be higher end in style, but is meant to be approachable and not just for special occasions—the vibe is going to be fun. And it won’t just be meat-focused—there will potentially be dishes like dan dan noodles with ground Iberico to follow those Iberico pork ribs you had earlier. There will be the option to order omakase or à la carte too. Beer, wine, and sake will be served.

They will be using whole animals and are sourcing a Kobe-certified beef, as well as very rare beef from a small operation (funded by a billionaire who wanted to produce high-quality beef)—they will be one of the few places in the U.S. to have it. They will have a special refrigerator to dry-age the meats; they are also having a custom wok station fabricated too.

There will be a 10-seat Arsenal noodle bar that will feature a rich three-day broth (but not tonkotsu)—look for something that is more on the beefy side, with braised flavors from root vegetables and beef, plus a bit of spice/heat—with noodles made in-house. He hopes to have the noodle bar open for lunch and late nights too.

Meanwhile, The Hunted is targeting a late summer or fall opening in an old warehouse at 445 Harriet, just 50 yards away. It’s a spacious one: there’s a wine cellar and basement, plus a 6,000-foot mezzanine. There will be large tables, with a private table in the wine cellar and an open kitchen. The design will be rustic, with a Japanese aesthetic of clean lines and lots of wood. Sun is working with architect Alan Tse, and the furniture is being custom made.

Sun, who is a spearfisher (for the past 20 years), as well as a hunter, wants to feature as much live seafood as possible, like lobster and sea urchin—his family is from Hong Kong, and live seafood is something he holds dear; he also loves fishing in Southern California. He dives for abalone and had a spearfishing company in South Africa, with free-diving equipment, too, so he’s really into all kinds of fishing.

Anyone who follows Sun on Instagram (@pursuitoffood) or his blog knows he doesn’t believe in just posting pictures of his catch: he shares the full story, featuring the food he makes from his wild pig or elk or deer hunts—he says the multicourse meals he would make with his catch really taught him how to cook. Since he likes to eat everything from his hunts, he says the animal has to taste good or he won’t hunt it. He adds: “My philosophy is that everything is good on the animal as long as you take the time to respect it.”

At The Hunted, he also wants to feature whole animals, plus wild game, with a duck oven, rotisserie, and large-format and aged meats. It will be very ingredient-driven, with great sourcing. He loves to cook meats over wood and charcoal, and says the experience at Dario Cecchini’s restaurant in Panzano in Italy (across the street from his famous butcher shop) was a big inspiration, one of his favorite meals ever.

There will be grain-finished bison (in the form of a tomahawk rib-eye), and seasonal seafood too, like handmade bucatini with uni, served in an uni shell (for an extra boost of smell of the ocean), or pasta with cured pork cheek and live scallop. A highly trained/advanced sommelier from New York will be overseeing the list, look for a focus on old-world wines; they also plan to have full liquor. The restaurant will be open for dinner and eventually lunch too.

Looking forward to seeing these two places take shape in the coming months; stand by for more updates. Arsenal: 715 Brannan St. at Harriet. The Hunted: 445 Harriet St. at Brannan.

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The manual lever espresso machine at The Temporarium. Yelp photo by Scout T.

It’s time for your afternoon jolt! Fans of espresso won’t want to miss a visit to ~THE TEMPORARIUM~, a new little sliver of a spot that opened in the former Sweet Mue space on 22nd Street. Owner Avery Burke is making espresso on a rare, handmade Kees van der Westen manual machine from Netherlands (you may have seen one like this at Andytown). The extra time with the pull makes for a more oily, fatty, buttery shot. He’s using espresso from Contraband, and you’ll find three kinds of coffee for pour-over too (tea is coming soon). He was previously with Contraband, as well as Barefoot Coffee Roasters back in the early days.

Another special thing Burke is doing is a creative and signature espresso drink each month. Right now, you can try his brûléed sage drink—he torches some sage leaves in a dish with cream, then adds it to milk with honey and anise extract. The cappuccino-sized drink features a rim with a compote of pomegranate molasses, chipotle, and curry. Dude!

There’s a small window bench all tricked out in seafoam green where you can sit, plus there’s another bench outside.There’s also a gluten-free mochi muffin from Sam’s Patisserie in Berkeley, which has a muffin-like exterior but a soft inside, with coconut and sesame seeds. Sounds groovy. Hours are shifting to Mon-Fri 7am-1pm and Sat-Sun 8am-6pm. 3414 22nd St. at Guerrero, 415-547-0616.

If you work anywhere near the War Memorial Opera House, there’s a new café that opened called ~C+M~ (Coffee and Milk), which is serving Intelligentsia espresso and coffee, plus pastries, sandwiches, salads, and more (menu here). Open Mon-Fri 7am-3pm. 401 Van Ness Ave. at McAllister, 415-578-3755.

There’s a new coffee subscription app that launched today in SF, CUPS, which allows users to get discounts at local and indie cafés. Here’s the best part: SF coffee drinkers who download the app at launch will get three days of unlimited free coffee at their 30-plus starting locations, including Sextant, Hearth, Artis, Contraband, and Flywheel. You’ll also be able to enjoy a big discount on their prepaid 15-cup plan, check it out (here’s my referral code for you: akcx3).

Your picnic options just expanded with the release of Blue Bottle Coffee’s new ready-to-drink cold brew that comes in an 8-oz. can. Starting in April, you’ll be able to purchase cans at select Whole Foods and all Blue Bottle cafés for $4 each.

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Presidio Picnic fun. Photo via Facebook.

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Chef Tu David Phu at Naked Kitchen. Photo: Kat Ma.

There are more pop-ups and food events than your waistband can probably handle, but here’s a quick roundup for you.

Starting April 3rd, the fourth season of Off the Grid’s Presidio Picnic returns to Sunday afternoons! You can enjoy food and drink from 34 local vendors (like Bacon Bacon, Wing Wings, and Shorty Goldstein’s), gorgeous views, fresh air, and a fun party scene that is also family-friendly. 11am-4pm, through October 9th.

Check out this seven-course dinner with food inspired by the Persian spring equinox celebration, Nowruz, on Saturday April 2nd. Tickets for Drunk Supper are $75. Check out a preview of the bountiful menu here.

Wouldn’t it be nice to say hello to Andy Griffin of Mariquita Farm? It sure would. There will be a family-style farm dinner on the patio at ~BAR AGRICOLE~ on Tuesday April 5th, 6:30pm. Tickets are $99.

Saturday April 9th, chef Tu David Phu (most recently executive chef at Gather Restaurant) is hosting a five-course Vietnamese dinner at ~NAKED KITCHEN~, featuring a whole pig and dishes that are known as nhau (beer food). Fun fact: he ages fish sauce direct from a family business in Vietnam and uses it in his cooking. Tickets are $85 for the dining room and $100 for the chef’s counter.

On Thursday April 21st, SF arts nonprofit Root Division is hosting their annual food and drink gala, Taste, at their new Mission Street facility. There will be over guest chefs, bartenders, artwork, and live music. VIPs can check out chef demos and get a limited edition artist-designed tote bag and access to the Diamond Lounge. Every dollar they earn at this fundraiser will benefit Root Division’s mission of keeping artists and arts education alive in San Francisco—they offer youth arts classes and more! Tickets start at $100, with $200 for VIPs, which also gains you early admission at 6:30pm. Main event 7:30pm-10pm. 1131 Mission St. at 7th St.

And the pork feast to end all pork feasts, Cochon 555, returns to SF on Sunday May 1st. The standing tasting reception will feature 5 competing chefs, offering 36 dishes from 5 heritage breed pigs. There will also be a couple of guest chef dinners that will benefit a charitable cause, Piggy Bank, to bring awareness to socially responsible farming. The Late-Nite Asian Speakeasy will happen the Friday before the event, and on Saturday evening, there will be a three-hour Chef’s Course Dinner. Cochon 555 tickets range from $125 to $200. Get your tickets, because this one sells out! Terra Gallery, 511 Harrison St. at 1st St.                                

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The busy lunchtime scene at Tacos Cala. Photo via @calasf on Instagram.

Have you had a chance to check out the delicious tacos guisados during the week in the space behind ~CALA~ on Hickory Street? Well then, you should be well acquainted with the space, which is now going to be open on Friday and Saturday evenings as Tapas Cala. You can come by for appetizers (oysters on the half shell, the famed trout tostadas, ceviche tostadas, and smoked trout croquetas) and drinks (the margarita, Paloma, Sangria Abeja, and Tonica Classica, as well as a selection of bottled beers and wines by the glass are available). It will be handy if you’re waiting for a table and the bar is full, or maybe you want a quick bite before popping into the Symphony. Open Fri-Sat 5pm-11pm. 

One more note: Saturday brunch has been added, so Cala now serves weekend brunch 11am-3pm.

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