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Mar 28, 2011 26 min read

March 29, 2011 - This week's tablehopper: spring fever.

March 29, 2011 - This week's tablehopper: spring fever.
Table of Contents

This week's tablehopper: spring fever.                    

Springtime blossoms in Union Square.

Hallelujah, the city is drying out (along with my car). I can run errands on my bike again (sorry, riding in the rain is not one of my preferred activities). Of course it’s clocking in at 74 degrees the day I leave for NYC, but whatever, I’m going to NYC! My weekend itinerary is looking out of hand, deliciously so (apologies in advance to my sister, who is strapped in the dining car with me). And I can’t believe we get to see LCD Soundsystem’s final show at Madison Square Garden. It’s shaping up to be an epically good time. Follow me on Twitter to keep up with my dining and drinking shenanigans in the Big Apple. Well, most of them. Sometimes I gotta fly dark.

Oh, and if you’re planning any upcoming trips to New York (or perhaps you live there and read tablehopper anyway, thank you!), you gotta check out this James Beard Foundation pop-up restaurant, JBF LTD, running April 12th-May 14th. The pop-up will be hosting guest chefs like Laurent Gras (formerly of L2O in Chicago), Michelle Bernstein (Michy’s and Sra. Martinez in Miami), Iñaki Aizpitarte of Le Châteaubriand in Paris with David Chang and Team Momofuku, and David Kinch and John Paul Carmona of Manresa will be heading over from Los Gatos! There will also be tastings, demos, and more. Lots of details, so check them out on the site.

Please take a look at the additional Help Japan fundraisers in the socialite this week—I’m blown away with how many restaurants and individuals are pitching in to assist in a variety of generous ways. Oh, and I’m planning to send out a review this Friday for you, but next Tuesday will be a super-shorty issue from guest writers. Thanks for understanding. It’ll feel good to be off leash and off-piste for a few days!

Catch you later!

Marcia Gagliardi

the chatterbox

Gossip & News (the word on the street)

Nojo, a New Izakaya and Yakitori Joint, Opening in Hayes Valley


The scene at Nojo’s (first) opening party. Photo courtesy of Nojo.

Due to open this Wednesday March 30th is NOJO, a California-Japanese restaurant by first-time owner Greg Dunmore, formerly the executive chef at Ame (he worked under Hiro Sone). The izakaya-inspired restaurant will also feature a number of yakitori dishes, like eight different kinds of chicken skewers ($3-$5.50), along with duck, and kushiyaki, including beef tongue and pork belly ($3.50-$4.50). Non-skewer dishes will reflect the seasons, with dishes like vegetable tempura ($8) and chawan mushi with Dungeness crab and green garlic ($12), along with trout tartare with chiles, daikon, and sesame crackers ($12). There are also four larger dishes, like white miso-glazed trout with soft leeks and black trumpet mushrooms ($16). Ingredients will have a strong local pedigree; you can check out the entire menu here.

True to izakaya/pub style, there are plenty of things to drink, from 9 kinds of beer (all local, so don’t look for any Hitachino) to artisanal sakes, plus 10 kinds of wine by the glass. The name means “farm,” but the look is sleek (although many elements were reclaimed, and the space features local art). In a unique twist, staff members will not only cook, but they will also alternate turns serving and greeting guests. No reservations except for parties of six or more. Open Sun-Mon, Wed-Thu 5pm-10pm; Fri-Sat 5pm-11pm; closed Tue.

Nojo            - 231 Franklin St. San Francisco - 415-896-4587

Two New Vietnamese Options for You to Try This Week


Rice Paper Scissors founders Katie Kwan (left) and Valerie Luu (right); photo by Phil Carter.


Bun Mee’s exterior. Photo by Daisy Chow.


The ‘smokey eggplant’ banh mi sandwich at Bun Mee.

Last week I received a note from Valerie Luu of Little Knock that she and fellow Vietnamese street food vendor Katie Kwan of KitchenSidecar were partnering up for a second evening of RICE PAPER SCISSORS, a pop-up Vietnamese café. Dinner is this Thursday March 31st from 6pm until their last dish is served.

They will be serving southern Vietnamese dishes, including handmade pâté and charcuterie banh mi, snail pho, duck confit green papaya salad, and imperial rolls. You’ll be able to get food to go or grab a seat at the mini tables they’ll be setting up. Where will this all go down? They’ll tweet the exact address (it’ll be in the Mission) on Thursday March 31st; follow @littleknock and @kitchensidecar for the deets. Don’t tweet? Non-Twitterers can sign up for the Rice Paper Scissors email list, and they’ll slip the address into your inbox.

And on Friday April 1st, Fillmore’s BUN MEE will have their grand opening (although they appear to be in soft opening mode now), offering  banh mi-inspired sandwiches, as well as salads, rice bowls, salad and crispy rolls, and other sides. At a media preview last Saturday, editorial assistant Daisy got a sneak peek of the new restaurant and modern-Vietnamese menu. Bun Mee’s kitchen, to be led by Leo Pearl (Betelnut, Cafe Giovanni in New Orleans), showcased quite a few of their sandwiches, including the show-stopping ‘sloppy bun’ (red curry ground pork, house garlic aioli, shaved onion, Thai basil, jalapeños) served with a sunny-side up egg (add an organic, free-range egg to anything on the menu for $1.50—it’s an option you’ll want to use on several items). Other sandwiches to note were the ‘smokey eggplant’ with cauliflower relish and red curry aioli ($6.25), and the more traditional ‘Bun Mee combo’ ($5.95) with hand-carved house-roasted pork, pâté de campagne, Molinari mortadella, and garlic aioli. All sandwiches come with shaved onion, pickled carrot and daikon, jalapeños, and cilantro, and, since authentic bread was really important to owner Denise Tran, the bread is being made daily by a bakeshop in San Jose.

The gluten-intolerant diner can look beyond the sandwiches to the entrée salads and rice bowls, like the caramel citrus rice bowl with grilled chicken ($11.95), avocado slices, pickled green papaya, daikon sprouts, orange and grapefruit segments, served over garlic rice (made with chicken fat; that’s a good thing), and topped with crispy shallots, cilantro, and lime vinaigrette. For sides, the pineapple in the salad rolls (2 for $5.50) gave them a sweet twist while the sweet potato fries ($4.95) had good texture and flavor, punched up by red curry aioli dip.

Appropriately, the sweet of the evening also came in sandwich form: coconut cookie sandwiches made of thin, crisp chocolate wafers sandwiching coconut cream filling, edges rolled in toasted coconut—kinda like Oreos, but fresher, and coconut-flavored. While Bun Mee’s liquor license is pending, you can still enjoy beverages like their housemade Kaffir limeade or strawberry lychee agua fresca (though the drinks were quite sweet sans booze). Looks like this is going to be a good spot for a meal that’s as tasty as your favorite hole-in-the-wall banh mi shop, but better looking (check the zinc counters and vintage-mod look) and with fresh and modern twists at wallet-friendly prices. Daily 11am-10pm. 2015 Fillmore St. at Pine, 415-800-7696.

Stinking Rose Group Has Taken Over The Old Clam House


Yelp photo from Eddie C.

Longtime Bayview restaurant THE OLD CLAM HOUSE has been bought by the group behind The Stinking Rose (who also own Calzone’s, Bobo’s, The Franciscan, and the upcoming Salito’s/old Margaritaville in Sausalito). The restaurant has been around since 1861, and when it became available, Jerry Dal Bozzo was interested in picking it up—the group’s director of marketing, Brandy Marts, reminded me he has an interest in historical properties: Dal Bozzo was the one to reopen the Cliff House in 1973. They are currently updating the space room by room, refreshing the paint, chairs, and other touches. They are also working to reopen the patio, which will be glassed-in.

I had a chance to catch up with chef Andrea Froncillo, who walked me through the menu changes. He’s taking a lot of the fried dishes off, and modernizing some of the preparations (for example, he’s simplifying the cioppino, with reportedly good feedback from some regulars). He also changed the clams from cherrystones to Manilas due to some availability issues, and added prime rib to the menu. You’ll also see more salads and some lighter lunch options for folks who work in the neighborhood. You can peek at the new menu here. And if you’re an Old Clam House regular and your favorite dish is off the menu, you can still request some of them, like Louie dressing for your shrimp. 299 Bayshore Blvd. at Oakdale, 415-826-4880.

Sneak Peek at Radish's Daytime Menu


After some permitting issues and delays, RADISH, the daytime restaurant opening across from the Lexington Club in the Mission, is currently targeting an opening date of Monday April 11th. I’ll have pics for you in my next issue, but in the meantime, I got a sneak peek at owner Emily Summers and chef Adam Horndeck’s menu. Breakfast will feature eggs Benedict, a vegetable omelet, and a croque-madame, along with migas (a scramble of egg, onion, bell pepper, tortilla strips, avocado, and pickled jalapeños), steak and eggs, and a Spanish-style tortilla de patatas. There will also be pancakes, French toast, and donuts.

There are nine different sandwich options for lunch, including a steak sandwich with caramelized onion and beech mushrooms, white cheddar, arugula, pesto, and lemon aioli, served on foccacia; and the Rad Burger, made with grass-fed beef. Vegetarians will be pleased to find half of the items on the sandwich menu can be theirs, from a vegetarian burger to a tofu sandwich. There are also healthy-sounding soups and salads, like curry lentil soup, and a root salad with roasted beets and potatoes, sheep feta, watermelon radishes, and clementine-chervil vinaigrette. Many items will be made in-house (breads, dressing), and they’re even roasting their own coffee; sourcing will be local and organic when possible. Hours will be 8am-10pm daily, and until 11pm on the weekend.

Radish            - 3465 19th St. San Francisco - 415-834-5441

Celebrating the One-Year Mark at Bernal's 331 Cortland


Yelp photo from fancypants x.

The artisans of the 331 CORTLAND MARKETPLACE culinary marketplace in Bernal Heights are throwing a party to celebrate their first anniversary, and the whole community is invited to share in the fun. At 6pm on Friday April 22nd, the vendors are starting off a two-day event with demonstrations, classes, and a raffle benefiting the Bernal Heights Neighborhood Community Center’s Senior and Student gardening program. New events will be announced on Twitter as they’re added.

The one-year mark comes with some changes too as both El Porteño Empanadas and ICHI Sushi are ready to move on from the small business incubator site. El Porteño will focus on expanding their market presence at the Ferry Building and in Whole Foods Markets, while ICHI is busy with their new sushi bar.

Within the space, Paulie’s Pickling and Bernal Cutlery will be expanding their kiosks. Bernal Cutlery plans to offer a larger inventory of knives, and Paulie’s Pickling will increase their sandwich offerings (they’ve already grown from 4 to 12 sandwiches, including “Bernalogna” and beef brisket) and will add new items, like cookies from Debbie Does Dinner and rugelach from Black Jet Bakery. By the way, you can also nab Paulie’s pickles at Whole Foods Market on Haight, Home Restaurant, Smoke BBQ, Lilah Belle’s, The Liberty Café, and a couple local bars (The Dogpatch Saloon, Marlena’s, Stray Bar, and Wild Side West).

Spice purveyor Tammy Tan of Spice Hound is expanding with classes, starting with an intro to sea salt class on Saturday April 9th at 2:30pm, featuring an overview of salt, sea salt and processed salt comparisons, and salt and food pairings. Email for more info. Plus they’re re-introducing their hot chai due to popular demand.

Meanwhile, 331 Cortland is seeking new prepared-foods vendors to join the marketplace. Send proposals to Debra Resnik, and include a menu and descriptions of how your business will use the kiosk, how your business will be staffed, and how your concept would complement the other vendors.

331 Cortland Marketplace            - 331 Cortland Ave. San Francisco

An Artisanal Bagel Maker Is Coming to Town!


A comp of the upcoming Burlingame facility.

After getting cut off from my Monday bagel delivery from Sour Flour (sob), things got desperate again on my own personal bagel front. So I was happy to learn about artisanal bagel maker Jay Glass coming to the Bay Area with his business SPOT BAGEL. He knows a thing or two about bagels: when he had his bakery in Seattle, he made 30,000-plus bagels per day. But this isn’t a storefront—he’ll be selling his bagels through retailers like Bi-Rite Market, and Dolores Park Cafe and Duboce Park Cafe have also committed to using his bagels, along with pop-up Wise Sons Deli. The production bakery will be in Burlingame, and he has brought on Holly Pugliese as chef/baker (she taught baking for seven years at the California Culinary Academy, and was at Post Ranch Inn and Il Fornaio in Monterey).

Glass’s passion is to make bagels in a traditional way, using organic ingredients, and to create both savory and sweet flavor combinations (like orange-poppyseed, or Meyer lemon and sea salt). The seasonal and fresh ingredients he insists on using make all the difference. (Let’s just say I’m normally not a fan of cinnamon-raisin bagels, but a sample I tasted was delicious, and included plump sultanas.) He expects to begin construction in April and open for business by mid June. It also sounds like Seattle-ites who miss his bagels will be able to order them for shipping. You can keep track of progress on Spot’s Facebook page and on Twitter.

Glen Park's Red and White Now Sel et Vin


Exterior photo from SFoodie/Luis Chong.

Not too long ago, I mentioned Glen Park’s Red and White wine bar was morphing into a collaborative project with Laurent Legendre of Le P’tit Laurent. SFoodie reports the new incarnation is now open: SEL ET VIN, an oyster and wine bar. The piece mentions there are six kinds of West Coast oysters available ($12-$14 per half-dozen, $22-$27 per dozen), plus bistro-y appetizers like onion soup ($6.95) and a charcuterie plate ($15). Sounds like the wine list format is remaining the same, with choices ranging from $5-$15 per glass—don’t get too tanked while waiting for your table at Gialina. Hours (subject to change) are Tue-Thu and Sun 5:30pm-10pm, Fri-Sat 5:30pm-1am, closed Mon. 678 Chenery St. at Diamond, 415-333-2200.

Ti Couz's Struggle Turning to Closure


Yelp photo by Heather W.

Well, it appears to be the end of an era… After my report a few weeks back that TI COUZ appeared to be struggling, the Inside Scoop now adds that it’s potentially closing any day now (according to employees there). So many dinner dates and pichets of cider there when I first moved to San Francisco… 3108 16th St. at Valencia, 415-252-7373.

An Italian Feast and Fundraiser at Mezza Luna in Princeton by the Sea


Photo from Mezza Luna.

I have to do a shout out for my dad’s friends, who are hosting a benefit at their restaurant MEZZA LUNA for one of their employee’s daughters, Isabella Messina, who suffers from Omenn’s Syndrome. UNA SERENATA PER ISABELLA is Thursday March 31st, and will feature a family-style dinner, including antipasti like meatballs with polenta, affettati misti (cold cuts); pasta al forno (a wonderful baked pasta dish); fresh fish of the day and roasted New York medallions in a wild mushroom sauce; plus assorted pastries. There will also be a lot of quality vino, and music by international tenor Pasquale Esposito.

Loads of vendors are donating goods or their time, including chef Vincenzo Cucco (Divino Restaurant), Pacific Coast Meat, Exclusive Fresh Fish, ItalFoods Inc., Romeo Winery, Pan Exotic, Villa Italia Wines, Daylight Farms, Tosco Wines, Siena Imports, Bob Stewart, and Young’s Market. $75 per person (wine, dinner, and tax included). 6:30pm-9:30pm. 459 Prospect Way, Princeton by the Sea, 650-728-8108.

San Rafael's Sol Food Hopes to Reopen by Thursday March 31st


Photo from Sol Food’s Facebook page.

I received an email from Sol Hernandez of San Rafael’s SOL FOOD about some unexpected and emergency sewer repairs (never fun) they had to do at the “big restaurant” at 901 Lincoln Avenue. After some snags with the permits from the  building department, they are hoping to finally reopen for business this Thursday March 31st.

In the meantime, to accommodate their customers, they set up seating at Theresa and Johnny’s restaurant during the week from 5pm-10pm, just two doors down from their new “little location.” What new little location, you ask? Sol Food’s little location is moving to 811 4th Street into the old Royal Frankfurter, which is across the street and less than a block down from the current little location. It has a few seats inside, and they are working on getting outdoor seating. The new little place is open, and they plan on doing their last day of business at the old little place on Saturday April 30th.

Got all that? OK, good, because you’ll want to mark your calendar on Sunday May 1st for the grand opening party for La Bodega, the other business extension. The party will be from 10am-7pm, with an oyster bar by Hog Island, live music, and plenty of Sol food! 3rd St. between Tamalpais and Lincoln.

New Owners for Oakland's Caffe 817

I heard from Luigi Ruocco of Mr. Espresso that Scott and Emily Goldenberg have taken over CAFFE 817 in Oakland. Luigi says, “Caffe 817 has long been a favorite local breakfast and lunch destination for employees of Mr. Espresso, so needless to say, we’re thrilled to be working with them! And they have a great cooking background, both having just left long term stints as sous chefs at Zuni Cafe in SF to take over 817.” I didn’t hear back from them in time for this mention, so I guess folks in the neighborhood will need to check in to see what Scott and Emily’s changes and updates to the menu are. 817 Washington St. at 8th St., Oakland, 510-271-7965.


the sponsor

This Round Is On Me... (hey, thanks!)

(Sponsored): Get Your Ticket to Taste Over 150 Portuguese Wines

Taste a world of difference with Wines of Portugal in San Francisco on Wednesday April 6th, from 5:30pm-8pm. A unique tasting of 150-plus wines—from the dry reds of Bairrada to the delicious whites of the Minho, and from the newly renamed Tejo and Lisbon regions to the progressive offerings from Alentejo and Duoro. Wines are paired with Iberian appetizers, and a Master Class by Master Sommelier Keith Goldston at 6pm has spaces available.

All proceeds from ticket sales go to Meals On Wheels of San Francisco. Tickets are $35 online for the Grand Tasting only, and $50 online for the Master Class AND the Grand Tasting (what a deal!). Buy your ticket here.

The tasting will be held downtown at the One Leidesdorff Building, 344 Pine Street (between Sansome and Montgomery), San Francisco.

the lush

Bar News & Reviews (put it on my tab)

Fantastic Wine Deal Returns to Terzo


Yo winos. TERZO is back with their popular special that lets you take half-off the $40-and-under wines on their list (you’ll get to choose from more than 20 bottles of their most popular wines). The offer is available Sun-Wed for guests ordering dinner (since it’s a small plates-focused menu, that means two small plates or one large plate per person). Sorry, holidays and private parties are excluded from the offer.

Terzo            - 3011 Steiner St. San Francisco - 415-441-3200

Pisco Party to Celebrate The Pisco Book


Local writer Gregory Dicum has just released The Pisco Book, a comprehensive guide to the world of pisco, including its history, production, history in San Francisco, and of course, drink recipes. There will be a book launch party on Wednesday April 6th at LA MAR CEBICHERIA PERUANA starting at 8pm, with ORO Pisco cocktail specials, and Gregory will be signing books. Media pals: there will be an earlier party at 5:30pm with complimentary drinks and a guided tasting, RSVP here for admittance. Pier 1 1/2 The Embarcadero, 415-397-8880.

La Mar Cebicheria Peruana            - Pier 1 1/2 San Francisco - 415-397-8880

Update on the Gravity Room's New Incarnation

After hosting the naming contest for the Gravity Room space, I followed up with owner Paul Owens (Tortilla Heights) to find out if a tablehopper reader ended up coming up with the winning name. Sure enough, a reader is $1k richer. It’s going to be called THE HUDSON (no relation to the Hudson in Oakland). R3 Builders are currently building out the space; stand by for the opening date, which should be this late spring/early summer. 3251 Scott St. at Chestnut.

Coming Soon: Barrelhouse, a New Bar in Burlingame


Opening in downtown Burlingame in early April will be BARRELHOUSE, a neighborhood bar from the owners of the Vinyl Room, Jose Natividad and Juan Loredo. They are working with interior designer Lauren Geremia from Geremia Design, who is custom designing interior elements, and using natural materials like wood (there is a wall made entirely of pieces of reclaimed wood), glass, and raw metal. The owners want to offer an exceptional beer, wine, and cocktail menu, and bartender Rick Edwinson is working on a barrel-aged sangria and Manhattan. There will also be bar bites from a neighboring restaurant. They are also planning to feature live salsa bands on Sundays during the summer months. Hours will be 4pm-2am daily, and open earlier for sports and special events. 305 California Dr. at Burlingame, Burlingame.


the sponsor

This Round Is On Me... (hey, thanks!)

So, Have You Had Time to Check Out Deep Dishing Yet?

One month ago, yours truly launched Deep Dishing, a new kind of forum about Bay Area restaurants and bars. What’s different? Well, to start, this community is based on positivity. It’s about what to order, not what to avoid. It’s about sharing what’s good, what rocks your socks off, and why you’d want to return somewhere—not why you want to run away. It’s also about sharing secrets, like what’s off the menu, or your favorite super-duper sandwich combo.

Before heading over to a new hotspot, like Cotogna or Prospect, or maybe a place that’s been on your list, like Out the Door on Bush, take a peek at Deep Dishing first to see what dishes the community recommends. You may even pick up a hot tip or two.

You can post (and drool over) pictures, vote and comment on dishes, share hot tips, and even ask questions in the Tip Please! forum—and help solve the dilemmas of your fellow diners.

Content will also grow (obviously) since we just started, but I’m already so impressed with the quality of the content on the site. So check it out, create a profile, start voting and posting, and I hope you have fun dishing it up.

the socialite

Shindigs, Feasts, & Festivals (let's party)

Restaurants and Bars Rally to Help Japan


Restaurants, bars, and others in the food community are continuing their efforts to raise funds for those in need in Japan, so here at tablehopper central, we’re happy to continue passing along the announcements.

DOSA is turning every Tuesday in April (that is, April 5th, 12th, 19th, 26th) into Tuesdays for Tokyo: they will donate ALL profits from both locations, Fillmore and Valencia, to the Northern Japan Earthquake Relief Fund, coordinating with the JCCCNC. 100% of the donations received will go to local non-profit and community service organizations in Japan for citizen-to-citizen relief efforts reaching those most in need in the affected areas. Stop by and help support this tremendous, generous effort.

A couple events we mentioned last week that are still coming up are the Bakesale for Japan this Saturday April 2nd, the Chefs Unite for Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami Farm Aid Dinner at PROSPECT on Sunday April 3rd, and Yoshi’s Japan Relief Benefit at YOSHI’S SAN FRANCISCO the following Saturday April 9th.

Also mentioned last week was E&O TRADING COMPANY’s Sunday April 10th fundraiser to aid Japan. We’ve got more deets this week: from 5pm-9pm, tasting stations for each of the sponsoring food and beverage contributors will be set throughout the restaurant for guests to sample and enjoy. Contributors include Betelnut, Butterfly, Contigo, Range, Slanted Door, Grand Café, Starbelly, Beast and the Hare, One Market, Tres, Citizen’s Band, Cocotutti Chocolates, Kara’s Cupcakes, Nash Baker, Raison D’etre, Pinky’s, Honig Winery, and Cannonball Winery, plus The Bon Vivants will be mixing up amazing cocktails. Joey Altman and the Back Burner Blues Band will be performing, and there will be a silent auction to raise more funds. Liam Mayclem of Eye on the Bay will be emcee for the evening. Tickets are $75, with 100% of proceeds going directly to Give2Asia, online or at the door.

Another fundraiser we mentioned already is the Hope To Japan: Earthquake and Tsunami Disaster Relief event on Tuesday April 5th, 6pm-9pm at the HOTEL NIKKO SAN FRANCISCO. Get tickets for the longest sushi bar offering different varieties of sushi and sashimi; delicious food and drink provided by Ana Mandara, Anzu, Asahi Beer, Cooksf!, Creative International Pastries Delica, Joto Sake, First Crush, Gary Danko, Gonbe, Hakubaku, Hana, Hiros, Izumiya/Yamasho, Kirala, Poggio, Roy’s, Sanraku, Shabu Way, Silks, Sushi Ran, Urban Tavern, We Be Sushi, Kenzou Estate, Maboroshi Winery, Born Sake, Honig Wines, Republic of Tea, Vinifera Wines, Gekkeikan Sake, and more; plus live music and raffle prizes. $150 per person; 97% of proceeds go to Japan’s Red Cross. Tickets online only.

Tomorrow evening, Wednesday March 30th, chef/owner Rob Lam of BUTTERFLY restaurant and the Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area (AABA) will co-host a fundraiser dinner for relief and rebuilding efforts in Japan (6pm reception, 8pm dinner). The event will feature a special prix-fixe dinner menu created in honor of the Japanese people. Menu highlights include wagyu beef and foie gras croquette; spicy oxtail and bamboo heart soup, sizzling rice cakes, micro shiso; and sesame-crusted tuna, calamari black rice, orange soy reduction, shrimp-stuffed shiitake mushrooms. 100% of the money raised will go to the National Council of YMCAs in Japan, who will directly distribute relief on the ground. The Consulate General of Japan Hiroshi Inomata will be in attendance. Tickets are available through AABA for a $150 donation.

NOMBE will host its monthly Sake 101 sake-pairing dinner on Thursday March 31st at 7:30pm, showcasing four traditional styles through a welcome sake and four-course meal of grilled meats, fish, veggies, and comfort foods. A special highlight will be an 18-year-old koshu (aged) sake. $45 per person. All proceeds from the sake tasting will go towards the Japan Disaster Relief fund. Special guest Yuka Takahashi, sister to Nombe partner Mari Takahashi, who left Japan just days after the quake, will share her compelling experiences and offer ways to help the people whose lives have been unimaginably changed. Nombe will also continue gifting a portion of daily revenues to Japan Disaster Relief.

JARDINIÈRE is holding a special Monday night dinner on April 4th to raise money for Japanese earthquake and tsunami relief. The prix-fixe dinner is part of their regular Monday night specials; however, this one will cost $55 with $10 from each dinner donated to the relief fund. Michael Hung of Bushi Tei and formerly of Jardinière will be the guest chef. The prix-fixe dinner includes three courses (salad of Star Route little gems, young carrots, white soy moussant, and brioche croutons; kurabota pork belly torchon, Manila clams, braised daikon, and crispy spring onions; and yuzu pound cake millefuille, adzuki crema, matcha, and shiso) and three wine pairings selected by sommelier Eugenio Jardim.

How about a massive fundraising party? UMAMIMART presents THE GIFT OF FOOD on Tuesday April 5th from 8pm-1am in the Burritt Room (inside the Crescent Hotel, 417 Stockton Street at Sutter). Booze will be provided by Yamazaki Whisky, Joto Sake, The Glenrothes Whisky, Brugal Rum, GlenGrant Scotch, Bulleit Bourbon + Rye; bites by Peko Peko Japanese Catering and Sandbox Bakery; and music by Tommy Guerrero and DJ Toph One. Tickets: $40 advance/$45 door. All proceeds go to Second Harvest Japan, the country’s first food bank. In the wake of the quake and tsunami, Second Harvest Japan has been driving two-ton truckloads of food, water, and vital necessities into northern Japan every day.

From the RichmondSFBlog: “sushi spot RUMBLE FISH (200 23rd Avenue at California) is currently donating 10% of each patron’s check to Japan tsunami relief efforts… So if you’ve got a hankering for sushi, head over to Rumble Fish to fill up and also make a difference for Japan.”

For some family-friendly ways to help, the PARK CHALET GARDEN RESTAURANT will host a musical performance by Charity Kahn of Charity & the JAMband on Friday April 1st at 6:30pm. All voluntary cover-charge donations being given to the Northern Japan Earthquake Relief Fund. Donations of $5 or more will garner the donatee happy hour pricing at the restaurant from 5pm-7pm. On Saturday April 2nd, from 2pm-5pm, Park Chalet will launch their outdoor summer BBQ program by matching voluntary donations and providing free live music by the Hawaiian band My Peoples. Kids and dogs welcome at this outdoor event. In addition, those guests who make origami cranes while visiting the restaurant will be furthering the goal of accumulating 1,000 of these paper symbols of hope for which Park Chalet will donate $1 for each one folded.

Outside of SF, Thursday March 31st to Saturday April 2nd, 5pm-10:30pm, TRADER VIC’S EMERYVILLE, in partnership with Wednesday’s Gift, is sponsoring a benefit dinner to raise money for the resources that will be needed to help survivors in Japan. Cost for the three-course dinner is $48, tax and tip not included. Reservations 510-653-3400. 100% of the proceeds from the menu will be donated.

Coastside on  Friday April 1st, SAM’S CHOWDER HOUSE in Half Moon Bay will help raise funds for victims of the earthquake in Japan, and tsunami relief efforts throughout the Pacific, by donating 20% of all sales all day Friday to the American National Red Cross relief fund. In addition, 50% of any additional funds that guests contribute at Sam’s to the relief efforts during that day will be matched in gift certificates to Sam’s Chowder House.

Prefer to drink your donation? Drink some cocktails for Japan: BERETTA barman Ryan Fitzgerald has crafted specialty cocktails to benefit Japanese relief efforts.  For the next two weeks, swing by for a glass of 12-year blended Hibiki (Japanese whiskey, $15), a Plum Blossom ($13), or a Japanese Cocktail (Brandy, Orgeat, Angostura Bitters, lemon twist, $11), with a portion of proceeds benefiting the Red Cross. Plus on Friday April 1st, Beretta celebrates its third birthday! For the occasion, chef Ruggero Gadaldi will serve complimentary chiacchiere, which are traditional Italian fried fritters. Enjoy with a cocktail for Japan. Buon compleanno!

Finally, PRIMA in Walnut Creek, whose owners have many deep ties to Japan, is holding an online and in-store silent wine auction with 100% of proceeds to be donated to the American Red Cross in order to facilitate their efforts in Japan. See the complete list of 95 lots on their website; highlights include a 1992 Araujo Eisele Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Double Magnum donated by Bart Araujo, and a host of other large format bottles from friends like Dalla Valle, Lewis Cellars, Duckhorn, Vietti, Domaine Dujac, Ridge Vineyards, Spottswoode, Opus One, Dunn Vineyards, Carlisle, DuMOL, Paradigm, and many more. Bidding ends at 5pm on Saturday April 2nd, and only registered bidders will be able to participate. Email for more info.

Share Our Strength Taste of the Nation Event Is Thursday April 7th


 Event Info

Thursday Apr  7, 2011 6:30pm–9:30pm; VIP reception at 5:30pm General $95; VIP $165; Executive $500; use code TABLEHOP2011 for $10 off General or VIP Info/tickets                        The Bently Reserve 301 Battery St. at Sacramento, San Francisco 1-877-26-TASTE

Fight childhood hunger by attending Share Our Strength’s TASTE OF THE NATION SAN FRANCISCO event, coming up on Thursday April 7th at The Bently Reserve with over 30 top SF restaurants participating, including honorary chef co-chairs Chris Cosentino (Incanto) and Traci Des Jardins (Jardinière). All proceeds go to local efforts to eliminate childhood hunger (Food Runners, Children of Shelters, Fresh Approach), so eat, drink, and do good.

The list of exceptional restaurants donating their time and talents is hefty. On the savory side: A16, Absinthe, Atelier Crenn, Baker & Banker, Bar Bambino, Bar Crudo, Bar Tartine, Beretta, BOURBON STEAK, Café des Amis, California Caviar Company, Chotto, Fifth Floor, Il Cane Rosso, Gitane, Incanto, Grand Café, Meritage at the Claremont Hotel, MICHAEL MINA, Osteria Coppa, Perbacco, Plate Shop, The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay, RN74, Spruce, Starbelly, The Village Pub, Ubuntu, Wexler’s. And on the sweet side: Boulevard, MICHAEL MINA, Murray Circle, Orson, Tell Tale Preserve Co., and The Restaurant at Meadowood.

If that list is leaving you thirsty, here are the wineries and bartenders providing the evening’s sips: 15 Romolo, Alembic, Blagden Wines (Catherine Blagden), Cahill (Doug Cahill), Campo de Encanto Pisco, Campovida/Magnanimus Wines, Chronicle Wines (Mike Hengehold), Coastview & Le Petit Paysan (Ian Brand), Demuth Kemos (Eric Demuth, Peter Kemos), Duende (Jake Hawkes), Eight Arms (Iain Bolton), FAIR. Quinoa Vodka, Fifth Floor, Grgich Hills, H.M.S. Cocktails, Hall Wines, Hog & Rocks, James Judd & Cellar Full of Noise (James Judd), Joseph Phelps Winery, Keefer (Craig Strehlow), Markris (Mark Bright), Mercury (Brad Beard), Mighty Leaf Tea, Perfect Puree of Napa, Prophet (Jim Anderer, Joe Teac Mor), Rye and Rye on the Road, San Pellegrino Water, Suntory Whiskey, Tallulah (Mike Drash), The Smuggler’s Cove, Thirsty Bear Brewing Co., Tres Agaves Tequila, Tudor Wines (Dan Tudor), VeeV Açai Liqueur, Verge Wine Cellar, Wait Cellars (Bob Wait), and Zero Zero.

Plus meet special guests Leslie Sbrocco of Thirsty Girl and KQED’s Check Please and Ziggy, The Wine Gal of KRSH radio at the VIP reception.

Tickets are $95 for general admission, $165 for VIP access (5:30pm), and $500 for Executive access. Tablehopper readers, get $10 off your general or VIP tickets with code TABLEHOP2011.

Every dollar of ticket sales from Taste of the Nation San Francisco will go towards Share Our Strength’s local No Kid Hungry™ campaigns designed to ensure that at-risk children and their families have reliable access to enough nutritious food to thrive. Share Our Strength®, a national nonprofit, works to end childhood hunger in America by connecting children with the nutritious food they need to lead healthy, active lives.

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Wine Country Buzz (it’s what happens there)

Eight Perfect Pairings: A Special Event at Francis Ford Coppola Winery


The Michelin-starred Demon Chef, Alvin Leung of Bo Innovation Hong Kong and executive chef Kam Chiu Leung of Koi Palace are pairing up again for a special wine country event, EIGHT PERFECT PAIRINGS. On Saturday April 16th, they will be presenting eight courses of an “x-treme Chinese tasting menu,” which will include some specialty dim sum, plus two dessert courses. All the courses will be paired with wines from Francis Ford Coppola Winery. The event is $95. 5:30pm-7:30pm. Get your tickets on Francis Ford Coppola Winery, 300 Via Archimedes, Geyserville.

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Star Sightings in Restaurants (no photos please)

Lady Gaga Sure Has Interesting Taste

And no, I’m not talking about her fashion choices. When Lady Gaga was in town last week, she dined on oysters and lobster at The Waterfront Restaurant (her second time back). She took over the top floor with her small entourage. Comments reportedly ranged from them treating everyone so nicely to how smashing she looks in person…

Even funnier, the Examiner picked up on rumors that she came into The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen, and the staff didn’t even know she was there. According to a post from owner Heidi Gibson on their Facebook page, “We all work so hard during our rushes, that we weren’t even aware that she was here. We were notified by numerous tweets, emails, and customers coming to tell us that she was here. It was an honor.”

Jennifer Aniston's Yogurt Attack

Well, this sighting doesn’t quite involve a restaurant, but it does involve eating, and Jennifer Aniston, so let’s run with it. A reader wrote in that Jen “rolled up to Real Food [Company] on Polk in a limo, ran in to grab her fave yogurt (Voskos Exotic Fig), and dashed back out in a matter of moments.” Not sure how the reader knew it was her favorite flavor, but again, let’s go with it. A follow up note from the spotter: “I got the scoop from the check-out guy who said that Jen and I love the same yogurt…and proceeded to tell ze story.”

More Clive Owen Culinary Adventuring

Mister Man About Town, Clive Owen was spotted at A16 on Friday night (thanks to one of my readers for tweeting the sighting to me). An A16 regular tells me Clive has been there more than once, and he appears to be quite the oenophile. (Will his charms never cease? Criminy. Hey Clive, if you’d like a wining/dining buddy, give the Hopstress a call, why doncha?)

Green Eggs and Ham,, Yosemite Sam

Café des Amis has been busy hosting star-studded diners lately. Just last night, dined with five others in the private dining room. Also at the table was Paul Otellini, the CEO of Intel, and “super angel” Ron Conway, the founder of Angel Investors LP funds.

Beau Hunk Alert at Boulevard

On Sunday night, actor Jason Lewis, aka Jerry “Smith” Jerrod (one of Samantha Jones’s chewtoys on Sex and the City), dined at Boulevard with some friends.

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