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