ABC license activity can be such a fascinating thing! I was so intrigued when I saw this one ripple across the wires, a project that mentioned Kraft & Hitachino as the name and Noriyuki Sugie, aka chef Nori, whom some of you may remember from his days cooking at Nombe. (You can read more about chef Nori’s background here—he was previously in LA doing a pop-up ramen night at BreadBar a few years ago.) Of late, he has been cooking in Hong Kong, Tokyo, and most recently helping out a friend in New York.
We caught up with chef Nori, who shared some details about the project, which will be called KRAFT & HITACHINO (they will also use the kanji symbol for the word craft). Sugie’s connection to Hitachino is an established one: the Ibaraki-born chef (which is the prefecture where the Kiuchi Brewery—who brews Hitachino Nest—is located) has been collaborating with them for the past eight or nine years and even created a menu for the Hitachino Brewing Lab (a bar and home-brewing classroom) in Tokyo. Sugie says this next project was a natural evolution of their relationship.
They are going to be opening a craft beer bar, only serving Hitachino beers on tap from kegs, so it will be extremely fresh. There will also be some exclusive San Francisco brews made with special flavors. Guests will be encouraged to sample many of them, so look for plenty of specially sized tasting glasses.
As for the menu, diners will be able to come by for snacks or a full meal. Sugie says he will be doing a yakiniku-inspired format, but instead of diners having individual grills at their tables, it will be grilled for you at the kitchen counter. He wants to showcase authentic Wagyu beef from Japan, and of course there will be plenty of local vegetables featured too. Some of the other dishes will be a bit izakaya-like in style—we’ll update you as the concept takes shape in the coming months.
As for the location, the Lower Nob Hill space was Kyu Sushi, where the Fujiyoshi ramen pop-up and subsequent shop is located. (It’s a cool Deco building.) They are going to be working with a designer from Japan, who will integrate some of the stylistic elements from the Kiuchi Brewery, and there will be two counters: one for the bar and one long grill counter for guests. They are targeting a fall opening. 639 Post St. at Taylor.
As for Fujiyoshi, according to a post on Facebook, they will be moving, location TBD.
The exterior of Kyu/Fujiyoshi Ramen. Yelp photo by Kevin Y.