October 30, 2018

October 30, 2018
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The chic counter at The Shota. Photo via Instagram: @theshotasf.

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The cheerful counter at Mauerpark. Yelp photo by Matt B.

Opening Thursday November 1st in the former City Counter space in the Financial District is ~THE SHOTA~, an omakase-only sushi restaurant. Way to take over that long counter, it’s kind of perfect. Chef Ingi “Shota” Son will be offering both traditional Edomae-style sushi, integrating techniques like aging, curing, and marinating seafood flown in from Tsukiji Fish Market, plus some modern techniques as well. There will also be some kaiseki-style dishes using seasonal and local ingredients. There are two seatings Tue-Sat: 5:30pm and 8pm. 115 Sansome St. at Bush, 628-224-2074.

There’s a charming and stylish new German café that just opened at 17th Street and Church, ~MAUERPARK~. Cyclists have probably been watching the transformation of the former laundromat into this cute café since it’s on two popular cycling routes. For those who know their German history (or don’t), Mauerpark was formerly the militarized land between the parallel barriers of the Berlin Wall (known as the “death strip”), and after the fall of the wall in 1989, has been transformed into a public space, park, and flea market.

Owner Salome Buelow, whose parents are German immigrants, is offering a menu of breakfast and lunch boards (with meats, cheeses, müsli and fresh fruit, and sausages), plus German pastries, sandwiches, daily specials, toasts, snacks, coffee and espresso service, beers on draft, wine, and some German sodas. The space is super-cute, with a counter, tables, and some comfy upholstered chairs. She wanted to create an open, inviting, inclusive space, where all are welcome—no walls here. Open Tue-Wed 7am-5pm, Thu 7am-9pm, Fri 7am-10pm, Sat 8am-10pm, Sun 8am-5pm. 500 Church St. at 17th St., 415-525-4429.

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Owner Sam Mogannam in front of the new Bi-Rite Cafe at Civic Center Plaza. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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The exterior awnings slide up and down when it’s time to open and close at the café. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Last week, I paid a quick visit for the awning-lifting ceremony at ~BI-RITE CAFE~ at Civic Center Plaza, which is now open. Congrats to everyone who brought this project to fruition, it was definitely a complicated one (there were a number of entities involved). Owner Sam Mogannam was beaming, and is proud to offer something to the city he loves so much that will hopefully help turn the tide of that beleaguered area (you can read more in this interview with him), along with the new playground that is adjacent to the café. The last time I walked by the corner of Grove and Larkin, I saw a guy shooting up in broad daylight, and now there’s a café and outdoor tables, with bunches of flowers for sale and kids running around. Thanks to the Helen Diller Family Foundation for setting this in motion with their considerable donation.

The café is like a fully outfitted kitchen kiosk, designed to serve the neighborhood, with visitors to the San Francisco Public Library and Asian Art Museum, City Hall workers, residents, and commuters all swirling by. (Kids visiting the library can get a sticker to redeem for fresh fruit at the café.)

They’re serving Sightglass Coffee and offering full espresso service from the window, plus Bi-Rite’s awesome breakfast sandwiches, yogurt parfaits, bagels, toasts, and more in the morning. You can also order sandwiches (like their bacon grilled cheese on crusty bread from The Midwife & The Baker), salads, healthy bowls, soups, and there is also a kid’s menu too. Check out the full menu.

Of course, they’re using quality, local, seasonal ingredients, but are still keeping things at $12 and under. They really want to try to feed the community as best they can without compromising their core food values. They developed the menu for the past 8-9 months, and look forward to offering seasonal specials with produce from their Sonoma farm.

Have a sweet tooth? Soft-serve is available (using Double 8 Dairy water buffalo milk), plus sundaes, ice cream cups, sandwiches, and there’s an affogato. Hours are Mon-Fri 7am-5pm and Sat-Sun 10am-4pm. 52 Grove St. at Larkin.

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Kin Khao’s Pim Techamuanvivit. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Some things to look forward to: Pim Techamuanvivit (Kin Khao, Nahm in Bangkok) will be opening ~NARI~ in Japantown’s Hotel Kabuki in spring 2019. Look for a seafood focus (Kin Khao chef de cuisine Meghan Clark will be the lead), a larger space (95 seats), and it will be a bit more “grown up” than Kin Khao. The name, which means “women” in Thai, will pay homage to all the women who have taught Pim how to cook (and the cherished recipes from home). 1625 Post St. at Laguna. [Via Chronicle.]

More details on ~HARBORVIEW RESTAURANT AND BAR~, which is taking over the former Crystal Jade on the Embarcadero: it’s from Kinson Wong, a founder of Chinatown’s popular R&G Lounge. Look for dim sum and classic Cantonese dishes (some R&G dishes will be coming over). They’re hoping for a late fall opening of the 200-seat restaurant. 4 Embarcadero Center. [Via Eater.]

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The famed chicken in brioche at Nomica (with miso butter, shiso chimichurri, and chicken essence poured over the top). Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Have you ever had the chicken in brioche at ~NOMICA~? Well, you better order it in advance and hustle over there if you want to cross it off your list, because chef Hiroo Nagahara is departing the Castro restaurant in a couple weeks to focus on opening his own project in the Arts District in Los Angeles, Bao Hiroo (remember, he was the chef behind The Chairman truck).

The team at Nomica tells me they are extremely happy for him, but super sad he is leaving. The Nomica concept and his food will disappear after November 15th, yes, including the chicken in brioche. A new concept will be brought over by the team from Sushi Ran to 2223 Market. Details are still being discussed, I will keep you posted on what’s next. Best wishes, Hiroo! LA is lucky to have you. 2223 Market St. at Sanchez.

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Le Marais serves their own custom roast from Verve. Photo courtesy of Le Marais.

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The open kitchen at the new Le Marais Bakery in the TenderNob. Photo courtesy of Le Marais.

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Baguettes from As Kneaded Bakery. Instagram photo via @as.kneaded.bakery.

Hope you love your carbs, because you’re going to be surrounded with new options. First up, ~LE MARAIS BAKERY~ just opened their 3,000-square-foot commissary and bakery in the Tenderloin (with a 2,000-square-foot basement!). Owner Patrick Ascaso sees it as a pastry incubator and lab, a croissanterie, and says this is his most Parisian café design—it’s unique to have the whole kitchen open, so you can watch everything being made.

Head pastry chef Hikari Hori, formerly of Fournée Bakery, is creating inventive pastries like lemon cream-laminated brioche, pluot and chai tea jam beignets, and croissant cones and ice creams (coming in November!), and also coming soon are brunch boards, avocado toast, and croques. For now, you’ll find croissants, pastries, cookies, quiches, and yogurt bowls, plus coffee by Verve Coffee Roasters, featuring their own Le Marais French Roast blend, darker and richer than most roasts. Espresso service is provided on their three-group Strada machine, their largest yet.

They’re ramping up for a busy holiday season for their partnership with Williams Sonoma, shipping croissants nationwide, and a pastry sampler, plus they’ll be offering a peppermint chocolate croissant that tastes like peppermint bark, cinnamon buns, apple swirl danishes, and pumpkin kouign-amanns. And coming soon: a truffle croissant.

The design has a similar look as the Castro, with Joanna Pulcini Acscaso bringing in a mural by Sabina Addis, Paris Metro reproduction tiles by Tabarka Studio, peacock chairs and vintage lights above the pastry case from Chateau Sonoma, lights by Schoolhouse Electric, and outdoor signs by New Bohemian. Hours are 7am-2:30pm, extending to 7am-7pm in mid-November with a brunch and café menu. 1138 Sutter St. at Larkin.

According to ABC permit activity, SoMa’s ~VIVE LA TARTE~ is potentially coming to Noe Valley in the former Bliss Bar—stand by for updates on timing. 4026 24th St. at Noe.

There’s also word that the Inner Richmond’s ~CINDERELLA BAKERY & CAFE~ may be taking over the building that housed La Victoria Mexican Bakery & Cafe, which just closed after 67 years in the Mission. (At least Cinderella has been around since 1953.) Stand by for news as this develops further, owner Mike Fishman knows this deal will take some time. 2937 24th St. at Alabama. [Via Mission Local.]

And anyone near San Leandro is going to want to visit the new brick-and-mortar location of ~AS KNEADED BAKERY~ from Iliana Berkowitz, who is known for her breads at wholesale accounts and farmers’ markets around the Peninsula. It’s an artisan bread bakery specializing in sourdough loaves, French baguettes, challah, and noshes, like bialys and bostocks. It’s the first artisan bread bakery in San Leandro, and one of just a few woman-owned bread-focused bakeries in the Bay. She’ll be open weekends, and is hosting a grand opening this weekend (Saturday November 3rd and 4th) from 10am-5pm—they are offering their first 100 customers a free brioche bite. 585 Victoria Court, San Leandro.

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Il Fornaio on Battery Street. Yelp photo by Ali R.

Wow, Italian stalwart ~IL FORNAIO~ has closed its SF location after 30 years at Levi’s Plaza (citing a rent increase, an aging building, and slow business). The other locations in Burlingame, Palo Alto, and San Jose are still open. 1265 Battery St. at Greenwich. [Via Hoodline.]

That construction on Van Ness has been an endless nightmare for many, and sadly it sounded the death knell for neighborhood bar ~BOOTLEG BAR & KITCHEN~, which is closing on November 1st. Their last night, this Wednesday the 31st, they’ll be pouring at going-out-of-business prices: $7 for any liquor, $3 for beers. Read more about the shituation for other businesses on Van Ness as well, like Helmand Palace and Tommy’s Joynt. 2360 Van Ness Ave. at Green.

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BSK’s impeccable waffles. Yelp photo by Pei K.

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Flora in Oakland. Photo via Facebook.

After 10 years of serving the best fried chicken and waffles in West Oakland, Tanya Holland has officially closed her famed and beloved ~BROWN SUGAR KITCHEN~ at 2534 Mandela Parkway. It just wasn’t profitable, in spite of its popularity, and the maintenance and upkeep (trash, graffiti) was expensive. [Via Eater.]

She’s focused on her two upcoming locations (2295 Broadway in Uptown Oakland and the San Francisco Ferry Building Marketplace), and news just came out that she created a menu for Whole Foods Market Oakland’s Floodcraft Taproom (at 230 Bay Place). You’ll find snacks like yam wedges with Creole spice and sweet corn and jalapeño hush puppies, small plates like jerk pork belly sliders with pineapple-cabbage slaw, and larger plates like a Creole BBQ burger on a Firebrand bun and a fried chicken sandwich (it was all designed to pair with Floodcraft’s beer list). Best wishes to Tanya on her new projects, we’re all looking forward.

Over at ~FLORA RESTAURANT & BAR~ in Oakland, Rebecca Boice (previously Zuni Cafe) is the new executive chef. She’s integrating some Italian influences on the menu—look for comforting “cucina della nonna” and dishes inspired by her travels, like calia e simenza (
a Sicilian street food snack of crispy chickpeas and pumpkin seeds), housemade focaccia, market-driven salads, pasta, grilled meats, braises, and meatballs. 1900 Telegraph Ave. at 19th St., Oakland.

There’s a second location of ~BEAUTY’S BAGEL SHOP~ now open in Uptown. Open Mon-Fri 7am-3pm for now. 1700 Franklin St. at 17th St., Oakland.

Whoa, over in Berkeley, ~SPENGER’S FISH GROTTO~ unexpectedly and abruptly closed after being open since, oh, 1890. Jamestown, the investment and management company that owns Spenger’s, along with the Fourth Street development it’s part of (as well as Ghirardelli Square) announced this: “”We look forward to repositioning Spenger’s with an innovative concept that makes the most of the DNA from the pre-1950s.” You can read more in this Berkeleyside post. 1919 4th St. at University, Berkeley.