I have already written about how utterly fantastic brunch at AINA in Dogpatch is, as many folks know, and chef Jordan Keao does one hell of a dinner menu too. And now, the team has just launched their new Mo’olelo tasting menu experience at the chef counter, available Wed-Sun, with two seatings (6pm and 8pm) for six lucky guests each. It’s a six-course tour de force of stunning dishes, featuring Hawaiian ingredients and modern preparations with some California lightness, finesse, creativity, and complexity.
Keao is really pushing with this menu (along with his chef de cuisine Chris Yang; they have been thinking about it for a year!), and it’s a frigging steal for $66.90 (plus gratuity and SF surcharge). Book in advance on their site. There are a couple of supplemental courses you can add on as well, like a hamachi course. If you see hand-pounded taro root poi, go for it. It’s a game-changing rendition of poi.
I also tasted a poke that made me like the stuff again—it was just barely dressed with smoked sesame and white shoyu and featured real Hawaiian ahi tuna and roasted kukui nuts. Ingredients like a chicharrón made from pounded taro root, sea grapes, fermented koji mushroom steamed barley, Massa Farms heritage pork belly kalua, and candied macadamia nuts like you have never tasted are just a few of the fun things you’ll encounter. You’ll have plenty of chef interaction and will learn so much about the complexity behind the beautiful dishes, each with its own story. Book this, and enjoy the wine pairings by Rai Calma ($20-plus) and the warm hospitality of this absolute gem of a restaurant (say hello to Keao’s wife and co-owner Cheryl Liew). 900 22nd St. at Minnesota, 415-814-3815.
Late-night eats—we never have quite enough options in this town. Luckily, Wes Rowe of WESBURGER ‘N’ MORE is looking out for us, and bringing a brisket sausage corn dog into our lives on Fri-Sat nights from 10:30pm-3am. Yeah, you read that right—3am! You’ll be able to order special late-night dishes only available during that time, including a double smash burger, Nashville chicken and tot skewers with bite-size Nashville hot chicken pieces, dill pickles, and tots on a stick, and the kicker: smoked brisket tots with BBQ brisket, queso, pico de gallo, jalapeños, and goat cheese. Damn son!
You can order and eat in The Den next door, complete with its jungle theme and lava lamps. You’ll also find Lo-Fi Aperitifs-based drinks, Lone Star beer, and cans of Funaguchi, an aged sake (that’s neither pasteurized nor blended). Cheers and chow down. 2240 Mission St. at 18th St.
Another change happening out there: after 10 years in business, ~MONK’S KETTLE~ has decided to celebrate with lowering their prices, and they’re launching a new food and drink menu that reflects this. Yeah, that’s refreshing. Even though wages are 53 percent higher now than when they opened, and there are many other costs they have been forced to grapple with, the creeping prices of everything is not where they wanted to be as a gathering place for the neighborhood. Draft pint prices will drop, the menu is simplified, and sandwiches are offered à la carte (fries/mixed greens are optional). Cheers, gang!
The spectacular poke at Aina, part of their new tasting menu. Photo: Eric Wolfinger.