Quick heads up that RESTAURANT NISEI is planning to open in their brand-new Russian Hill location (previously La Folie) on August 18th, and they have released reservations to try their 12-course tasting menu ($157) that explores Japanese, homestyle, washoku cuisine with California seasonality and ingredients. Stand by for more details in my next newsletter, but if you ever went to chef David Yoshimura’s Oji pop-up, you’ll be excited to book a meal. Vaccinated guests only. Open Wed-Sun 5pm-9pm. 2316 Polk St. at Green.
Another tidbit: next door, the team is opening Bar Iris, a Japanese-influenced cocktail bar with cocktails by bar manager Ilya Romanov (previously Niku), which is coming soon—enjoy a sneak peek here.
According to a tweet from supervisor Matt Haney, the historic CATHAY HOUSE in Chinatown is now softly open from owners Jaynry Mak and Eric Chung, who opened DIM SUM CORNER on the ground floor back in 2019. Cathay House is reportedly starting with dim sum service—since Dim Sum Corner uses recipes developed by Koi Palace, and some of the items, like the dumplings, are actually supplied by Koi Palace’s commercial kitchen, it makes me wonder if it will be the same story for Cathay House (one can only hope!). I reached out for more info and will update you when I hear back. Haney mentions, “It’ll be a daytime and nighttime food venue, banquet hall and bar.” I look forward to seeing the vintage round bar and lounge back in action. 718 California St. at Grant.
Just a few days ago, I visited Tony Gemignani’s Toscano Brothers Bakery (and Dago Bagel) in North Beach to check out his latest addition to the lineup: ANTONIO’S ITALIAN PASTRIES. He’s collaborating with the talented pastry chef Lisa Lu, who has been a regular in the neighborhood for years, and is head pastry chef. She brings her extensive pedigree (Boulevard, Michael Mina, Jardinière, and Quince) and well-honed skills, adding a number of fun and delicious Italian-inspired treats to the bakery case.
You can’t miss the Italian rainbow cookie (get more than one, trust me), with fragrant almond cake, raspberry jam, and chocolate, and there’s also a spumoni shortbread cookie, with vanilla and little panes of Italian candied cherry and pistachio. They have two versions of sfogliatella: with an apricot-lemon-mascarpone filling (using old-school squeeze-pit Blenheims) and nocciolata (an organic cocoa and hazelnut spread). While I will continue to pine for the lightly orange-scented and ricotta-filled sfogliatella from my favorite pasticceria in Rende (Calabria), these were tasty, with a great textural contrast between the filling and layers of pastry.
There are filled-to-order cannoli (dipped in pistachio, chocolate chip, or rainbow sprinkles)—be sure to eat them soon after ordering them—and you’ll find a lovely seasonal tart with perfect vanilla custard and fresh fruit. Don’t skip Tony’s favorite, the budino: butterscotch and toffee pudding with Johnnie Walker Red Scotch, with flaky chocolate crunch, olive oil ganache, and topped with Chantilly cream, a really special treat full of layers of flavor for just $6. Open Thu-Sun 8am-3pm. 728 Vallejo St. at Stockton.
There’s a new coffee pop-up in the La Cocina Municipal Marketplace called FLUID COOPERATIVE CAFE, from a trio of trans founders: Shannon Amitin, JoJo Ty, and Santana Tapia. They’re serving coffee from queer-owned roasters, plus some speciality drinks, along with pastry pairings from La Cocina entrepreneurs. (This project makes me so happy to be a San Franciscan.) Be sure to read this in-depth piece from Peter-Astrid Kane on SFGATE about this trailblazing project. Can’t wait to swing by for a cuppa. Open Mon-Fri 8am-2:30pm (enter through the 332 Golden Gate Ave. door).
Sneak peek of a starter from Restaurant Nisei’s tasting menu. Instagram photo via @restaurantnisei.