January 16, 2018

January 16, 2018
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Bhel puri from Indian Paradox, ready to be paired with many quality wines we’ll have at the event from Chambers & Chambers. Photo courtesy of Indian Paradox.

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One of the cocktails will be the White Tiger (almond butter-washed The Botanist gin, Luxardo Bitter Bianco, Cocchi Americano, five-spice bitters). Photo courtesy of Dominic Alling.

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Cassava is serving their barbecue pork ribs with Indian spices! Photo courtesy of Cassava.

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B. Patisserie will be bringing their black sesame kouign-amann, plus some other treats! Photo: @bpatisserie.

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Big smiles during a Pencils for Kids backpack delivery in Thailand. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Hey gang! It’s your last chance to get a ticket for our amazing event tomorrow (Wednesday January 17th)! Don’t miss the chance to win a pair of tickets to Hong Kong on the inimitable Cathay Pacific (see below)!

As an Honorary Chairperson and Ambassador for Pencils for Kids, Inc., I curated all the restaurants and wine and spirits for their fundraiser event in San Francisco: Small World. Big Flavors. We’re hosting the event at the stylish Cambria Gallery in SoMa (the same fab place where I hosted the fundraiser for Mexico last October!). I’m so excited for us to be back there; it was the perfect party pad!

Think of it like a seven-course dinner that is a walk-around tasting, with local restaurant partners making all kinds of delicious Asian dishes for the event. You ready for the lineup? YES! We have the new Perle Wine Bar of Montclair joining us (chef Rob Lam is making his amazing oxtail stew with soft Hodo Soy tofu…bun bo Hue style!); the charming Cassava is serving their barbecue pork ribs with Indian spices; and Indian Paradox (one of my favorite hidden gems on Divisadero for Indian street food—and they just launched brunch!) is making a classic street food dish of bhel puri (crispy crackers and puffed rice mixed with jaggery and mint chutney, tomatoes, potatoes, and mango served in a cone) and warm masala peanuts. The Burmese Grocery Cafe (which has a new location in Jack London Square in Oakland) is making their rustic mango chutney pork stew with creamy coconut rice (it’s a crowd-pleaser!). We also have Cambodian Nyum Bai joining us—Nite Yun will be serving her Khmer banana blossom salad (she is opening her brick-and-mortar location soon!). And you can check out a flavorful Thai-Laotian dish from the new Esan Classic (from the Lers Ros team)—they will be making spicy turmeric sausage (ground pork, turmeric powder, chile, lemongrass), and Thai iced tea to cool you off.

You’re definitely going to want to save room for dessert, because Belinda Leong of B. Patisserie is going to be making black sesame kouign-amann and milk tea macarons. The fine folks at HelioRoast are going to be offering coffee service—you’ll get to taste their local microroasted coffee!

There will be fab cocktails: the White Tiger (almond butter-washed The Botanist gin, Luxardo Bitter Bianco, Cocchi Americano, five-spice bitters) and House of Painters (The Botanist gin, Cointreau, shiso, lime, kumquat shrub, served fizzed), both courtesy of our generous sponsor Rémy Cointreau, plus beautiful wines kindly provided by Chambers & Chambers (those of you who came to the SF Loves MX fundraiser remember those two gorgeous French rosés!).

We will also have a silent auction and raffle with some fantastic items (like how about two round-trip tickets to Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific, are you kidding me?) and a goodie bag!

Tickets are only $75 (the event is 6:30pm-9:30pm), and you’ll be well fed (and beveraged, heh) while doing a whole lot of good. I really hope to see you—let’s have a full house!

As many of you already know, I visited Northern Thailand last May to be a part of the 10th anniversary mission of Pencils for Kids, Inc. It’s an amazing nonprofit that raises funds to deliver backpacks filled with school supplies and uniforms to children in Myanmar, Indonesia, and Thailand every year. In 2017, PFK delivered more than 2,200 backpacks to children in need!

My visit to the villages in Chiang Rai to help deliver backpacks was incredibly moving, and as someone who cherishes my education and independence, it felt good to help encourage access to education for others who are less fortunate. And it’s why I’m helping Pencils for Kids with their annual fundraiser in San Francisco this year, with 100 percent of the event proceeds going directly to supply children with backpacks.

If you are unable to attend, but would like to make a donation, please visit PFK’s donation page! You can donate a backpack for a child for $50, which will contain school supplies and their school uniform. Thank you!

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Salt cod fritters with chimichurri. Photo courtesy of Becca PR.

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Rum punch is an instant party at Kaya. Photo courtesy of Becca PR.

Now open in the former ~ALTA CA~ location on Market is ~KAYA~ from chef and co-owner Nigel Jones of Oakland’s Kingston 11, who partnered with Daniel Patterson’s Alta Group on the project. (Alta is easing on down the road, reopening in the nearby Yotel.)

It’s the Jamaican-born chef’s first foray into opening a San Francisco restaurant, and the menu and offerings are different from Kingston 11—it’s a more modern take on Jamaican food, with California ingredients and sourcing (but it will still have some bold flavors, don’t you worry). The menu includes salt cod fritters, papaya and greens, fried plantains, piri piri chicken, jerk chicken, black pepper crab, and oxtails. And for dessert: there’s chocolate-habanero soft serve, with pomegranate molasses and lime!

The restaurant is named after Bob Marley and the Wailers’ sixth album, and the space is meant to have a fun and social vibe (with hanging greenery, artwork from Caribbean artists, and projections of vintage Jamaican movies). Get irie. (The extensive rum selection—with an emphasis on Caribbean producers—and cocktails and bowls of punch from beverage director Aaron Paul should help fuel that.) There are also craft beers, wine, and housemade sodas.

You can read more in this in-depth piece about chef Jones and his intentions (with Patterson) to hire and train a more diverse workforce vis-à-vis Restaurant Opportunities Centers United.

Dinner is served Tue-Sat 5pm-11pm, with a late-night menu Thu-Sat 10pm-12am; bar open Tue-Wed 4:30pm-11pm, Thu-Sat 4:30pm-12am. And let’s not forget happy hour Tue-Fri 4:30pm-6:30pm. 1420 Market St. at Fell, 415-590-2585.

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Kimchi Jun (kimchi pancake with bonito flakes) at Fillmore Social Club. Instagram photo via @fillmoresocialclub.

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Grass-fed beef brisket kofta (meatball) salad with pomegranate molasses dressing at The Sini. Instagram photo courtesy of @thesini.

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The new Mersea on Treasure Island. Photo courtesy of Mersea.

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Nikutama udon, with shaved sweet beef and an egg, at Marugame Udon. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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The interior of Marugame Udon. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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The new Gio Gelati in Cow Hollow. Yelp photo by Ana A.

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The new Civic Kitchen cooking school and event space in the Mission. Photo: Kassie Borreson.

There are a bunch of new openings, starting with some groovy Korean in the former Gussie’s in the Fillmore at ~FILLMORE SOCIAL CLUB~. The menu is a bit fusion-y: you can tuck into kimchi jun pancake, some KFC (Korean fried chicken) served two ways, tako (octopus) wasabi, ssam (marinated rib eye wrapped in lettuce and pickled radish), stir-fried yaki udon, and shakshuka baby back ribs (I said it was fusion-y!). You can take a peek at the menu on Yelp. The wine, beer, sake, and cocktail picks are a cut above. The space was tricked out with a custom mural from artists Kelly Tunstall and Ferris Plock (KeFe). It looks fun. Open nightly 5pm-10pm. 1521 Eddy St. at Fillmore, 415-829-3750.

Fans of Turkish food and housemade pita will want to give a gander to ~THE SINI~, a fast-casual place (with some style) that opened recently in the Financial District in the former Darn Good Food. They are making their own pita (perfect for their doner sandwiches), creamy hummus, and serving salads and rice plates (like kofta/meatballs, or chicken or brisket doner or eggplant), featuring free-range chicken and grass-fed beef; here’s a post of their menu (which seems like a Turkish version and cross between a Souvla and Sababa). And…there’s baklava! (The name is in reference to the round metal tray you dine from—with a variety of dishes in front of you—in Turkey.) Open Mon-Fri 11am-9pm. 322 Kearny St. at Pine, 415-658-7170.

Want a change of scene? The new ~MERSEA~ has opened on Treasure Island, a casual spot from Parke Ulrich, the executive chef of Waterbar and EPIC Steak, and MeeSun Boice. It has some pretty fab views, lots of indoor and outdoor seating, and is constructed from 13 recycled shipping containers! Plus there’s a bocce court and putting green. They are also partnering with the Treasure Island Homeless Development Initiative and member organizations (Toolworks and Bakeworks) “that provide career opportunities and job training for low-income and formerly homeless individuals.” (Yes!)

On the menu: a diverse selection of dishes, from a pork roll and egg sandwich with kimchi, aioli, and arugula to chicken shio ramen, plus more traditional picks like clam chowder and a double-stacked wagyu cheeseburger. Look for sustainable ingredients, quality sourcing, and an array of dishes for everyone—plus wine and beer. Open daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner (Mon-Fri 7am-9pm and Sat-Sun 9am-9pm). 699 Avenue of the Palms, Treasure Island.

Udon fanatics (and fans of the similarly named Marukame in Honolulu) have already been lining up for soft-opening days of ~MARUGAME UDON~ at Stonestown Galleria, officially grand opening on Thursday January 18th. Marugame is a huge chain, with 990 stores, including 786 in Japan and 204 across 12 countries—this is the first in Northern California, and the only other mainland location is in LA. The restaurant is like an upscale cafeteria: you grab a tray and tell the friendly staff what you’d like to order (there are about 10 kinds of udon). Your bowl is made to order, with fresh Sanuki udon noodles constantly being made from a special machine and boiled right in front of you. Your udon is served in a ceramic bowl, which elevates the experience a bit. The housemade broth (kake dashi) is made in small batches from fish stock, plus kelp and soy sauce.

You also have the option to add tempura selections on the side, from shrimp to asparagus to fish cake, plus onigiri, inari, and drinks. After you pay, there is quite the condiment station, including tempura bits you can spoon on, scallion, ginger, and shichimi. The price is right, from $4.50 for regular udon to $9.50 for a large bowl of their most expensive udon, the Nikutama udon, with shaved sweet beef and an egg. There’s also spicy chicken, curry, egg drop chicken, and more, plus the option to order some cold.

The space is cleanly designed and comfortable, with lots of blonde wood and inspiration from traditional Japanese design, plus pendant lights and stone walls. There are 100 seats total (68 inside, 32 on the outside patio). Expect some long lines—the hype is real. Open daily 11am-11pm (last call at 10pm). 3251 20th Ave. at Winston,

Opening this Thursday January 19th is a second location of ~VIVE LA TARTE~, the fantastic bakery in SoMa that not enough people ever seem to know about. But the new location in the Ferry Building Marketplace (in the former Dandelion Chocolate space, next to Fort Point Beer Company) is about to change couple Arnaud Goethals and Julie Vandermeersch’s visibility. The menu will include their seasonal fruit-stuffed croissants, smashed avocado toast (on their bread), and salad bowls, with their new mash-up: a croissant shell stuffed with savory fillings and eaten like a taco. I am obsessed with their cheesecake and breakfast pizza; let’s see if those items eventually make it over too. Open daily 7am-7pm.

Want more dessert? I sure do. Now open in Cow Hollow is ~GIO GELATI~, serving authentic Italian gelato in a variety of flavors, many of them seasonal (with fruits and vegetables—expect some savory flavors too!). There’s even a nondairy version, and they offer gluten-free cones from Italy, so everyone wins! The team is Patrizia Pasqualetti (her family has been in the gelato business for more than 40 years), Nicola Trois, Guido Mastropaolo, and Nicole Moserle. You’ll also be able to enjoy pastries, cornetti, espresso, and cakes. Open daily 8am-10pm. 1998 Union St. at Buchanan.

There’s a new Northern Indian spot that has opened on Mission Street, ~LOTUS SF~, serving “”clean, green Indian cuisine.” Hoodline reports the owner (Surinder Sroa) is also behind Lotus Cuisine of India in San Rafael, featuring organic ingredients, free-range poultry, wild seafood, and fresh spices that are flown in. Expect familiar dishes (curries, tandoori specialties, biryani, naan) but you can reportedly ask for dishes you don’t see on the menu as well. Open Tue-Sun 10:30am-2:30pm for lunch and 5pm-10pm for dinner. 2434 Mission St. at 20th St., 415-872-9130.

Also in the Mission is a new recreational cooking school, ~THE CIVIC KITCHEN~, from couple Jen Nurse (you may have taken classes from her previously at Tante Marie and 18 Reasons) and Chris Bonomo (co-founder of The Japanese Pantry). The space is quite handsome and will offer hands-on classes for home cooks—from stocks to advanced skills like laminating dough—and events featuring writers, farmers, and more (it has a beer-and-wine license and is also available for pop-ups and private events for up to 65 guests). Classes will range from $25 to $145 (take 15 percent off classes booked now through March 31st with the code TCK15PRGO). 2961 Mission St. at 25th St.

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The cart for bollito misto at Poggio. Photo courtesy of Poggio via Facebook.

There’s a new addition to your brunch playbook up for consideration: ~SON’S ADDITION~ in the Mission launched brunch service, with dishes like spicy corned beef hash with breakfast potatoes, braised dino kale, Fresno chiles, and a poached egg; malted waffles with satsuma butter; or a fried chicken sandwich with cilantro-jalapeño slaw, cotija cheese, and spicy mole aioli on a sesame seed bun. Look for some low-ABV cocktails from Kyle Greffin (Al’s Place), plus sangria, Champagne cocktails, and micheladas. Sat-Sun 10:30am-2:30pm.

This weekend is the Good Food Awards, with Madhur Jaffrey delivering the keynote speech at the awards ceremony on Friday January 19th at Herbst Theater (you’ll also get to see Alice Waters). The event will honor 199 winners hailing from 34 states and Washington, D.C., across 15 categories (beer, cider, charcuterie, cheese, chocolate, coffee, confections, preserved fish, honey, oils pantry, pickles, preserves, spirits, and the newest category, elixirs). You can get tickets here, and there is also an after-party hosted at Airbnb with Bi-Rite Market. 5:15pm-7:30pm ceremony; 8pm-10pm after-party.

On Sunday January 21st, don’t miss the Good Food Awards Marketplace held in conjunction with the Fort Mason Farmers’ Market from 9am-2pm. If you purchase an early access pass, you get to attend the market an hour before (at 8am), meet the producers in a more intimate setting, and sample products before the crowds. And items are available for purchase! Festival Pavilion at the Fort Mason Center for Arts and Culture, 2 Marina Blvd. Tickets: $5 at the door or online, $20 early access pass.

Trade and media, check out the Good Food Mercantile on Saturday.

The ultimate wintertime dinner is back at ~POGGIO~: their annual bollito misto returns January 24th-28th! Executive chef and partner Benjamin Balesteri prepares the customary Milanese meal of brisket, oxtail, and cotechino sausage (slowly simmered) and serves it with a variety of sauces, including salsa verde, crème fraîche, horseradish, bone marrow butter, and mostarda. The traditional Italian carello (cart) will wheel up to your table and the meats will be sliced and served with some of the rich cooking broth on a heated plate. $28 per person. Fantastico!

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The new Blue Bottle location on California Street. Photo: Paige Colluccio.

The latest ~BLUE BOTTLE COFFEE~ to open is in the Financial District on California Street. The café was designed by Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, and the press release shares: “inspired by American artist James Turrell, the cafe is wrapped in wood planks on all sides with the exception of the back wall, which is covered in a hazy mirror creating an infinity mirror effect.” Hours are Mon-Fri 6:30am-5:30pm and Sat-Sun 8:30am-3pm. 600 California St. at Kearny.

And great news for the kinky crowd: after reporting last week on the demise of SoMa’s ~WICKED GROUNDS~, the kink/fetish/BDSM café, boutique, and community space, they ended up getting some financial help for their Patreon campaign from their community and are going to remain open a bit longer. No need for your safe word yet! 289 8th St. at Clementina. [Via Hoodline.]