This week's tablehopper: so crabby.
Thanks to Club Feast, I was stress-eating in style on Friday night with my Krispy Krunchy Chicken order, oh yes I did. (Don’t forget some TRUFF hot sauce for the mac and cheese.) Pre-order and set up your Friday night to do it right! (Just be sure to warm up the chicken a little before you dig in.) Cannabis cocktail not pictured, but also highly recommended. Photo: © tablehopper.com.
Hi, friends. Happy 2021, whatever that means. (Are we there yet?) How are you? I know many of us are feeling exhausted, shocked, aghast, and angry, and others are numb and completely maxed out from the past week of news, which keeps unfolding every hour with new updates. It’s a lot. (Let me know if you need any low-dose cannabis suggestions to help unwind or sleep or just try to deal!)
I laugh when I think of my plans to take this past week off as a time to focus on a couple of my new business projects and plans. Ha! Yeah, that happened. I will try again. Who can even focus on one thing for more than a few minutes right now? (Except Bridgerton, I had no problem focusing on THAT. And all my remaining holiday treats, they have been getting a lot of attention, too.) I don’t even want to look at my screen time stats this past week—all Twitter, all the time. (Also, thanks to Twitter, I was in the New York Times Magazine this past weekend, and it had nothing to do with food!)
Just before the New Year, I was actually able to focus long enough to write an article: the annual bore, which I transformed into the more this year, with ten things I want to see more of in 2021. Thanks to all of you who wrote back with your comments and feedback.
Timing has been tricky this past month for posting the final season episode of On the Fly with Charles Chen of Basuku Cheesecakes, but between the closure of outdoor dining and holiday madness and an attempted coup, it seems like a moment finally arrived, and the episode is now live. I hope you enjoy taking a break to listen to our conversation—it’s a fascinating look into all the hustle and adjustments that go into launching a successful pop-up (SO MUCH WORK), and Charles has such an interesting background in the culinary world, one that spans Hakkasan, Tartine Manufactory, Stonemill Matcha, and Maum. Also, he’s launching a passionfruit version of the cheesecake soon—you’re going to want one.
I don’t know when we’re going to pick up the podcast again—I need to focus on paying the bills for now, so thanks for all your support for this storytelling venture (especially to producer extraordinaire Lola Yen, who I am going to miss working with!). We banged out 22 episodes! There are so many more people I’d like to speak with, and stories that need to be told, so we’ll see what happens next. In the meantime, I’m so grateful to the Mercury News and Bay Area Newsgroup for this recent inclusion in their piece, 9 best food, wine and spirits podcasts to listen to in 2021. Such a nice way to wrap up the season, awww. Oh, and seeing this 48 Hills piece honoring chef Joanna Karlinsky for all her efforts to feed the unhoused during the pandemic, this also made me so happy.
Speaking of seasons: holy crab, it’s finally CRAB SEASON! Boats are out, pots are in the water, and we should start seeing Dungeness crabs Thursday and Friday. At last, some good news. If you don’t have a regular local crab source, here are some quick ideas: I always love supporting “the girls” at Alioto-Lazio Fish Company on the Wharf; of course, you can call the guys at Swan Oyster Depot; there’s Sun Fat in the Mission; the new Billingsgate in Noe Valley (read more in today’s tablehopper); and there are online ordering options like Water2table Fish Company. Many small/quality grocery stores carry local Dungeness, too. And you can head up to William Tell House in Tomales this Saturday for a crab tailgate—it’s always a feast. Enjoy! I was lucky to get a few crabs from a friend with a recreational license back in November, here’s the annual recipe/dish I like to make. Get pickin’!
Now that the holiday feed bag has been taken off, I’m posting about some new dish discoveries on the Club Feast platform on @tablehopper on Instagram. They have kindly sponsored me to choose my Club Feast Pick of the Month, like last month’s fantastic Hummus Bodega falafel pita, so stand by for what’s gonna be this month’s feast! (The Krispy Krunchy Chicken dinner pictured above is definitely a finalist, heh heh.) Try Club Feast for your first time and get $20 off with code HOPPER20 (which also puts $20 in my pocket, so thanks in advance). You’ll find a variety of tasty lunch and dinner dishes to pre-order and have them delivered for less than $10! Thanks for checking it out, and thanks to Club Feast for their sponsorship.
Take care, friends. Keep on truckin’. Marcia Gagliardi
Gossip & News (the word on the street)
Coming Soon Report: KEN on Divis, Jaranita, Osito's Location Revealed, and More
I was happy to see the long-closed IJJI sushi on Divisadero is going to have a new tenant: KEN, from Ken Ngai of Kusakabe, who has been working with chef-owner Mitsunori Kusakabe for the past 15 years. I reached out to Ken for details, stand by for more. It sounds like he’s already offering pre-ordered takeout for a soft opening. (Thanks to tipster Lisa B.!) 252 Divisadero St. at Haight.
Opening in mid- to late-January, is JARANITA from the La Mar SF team (part of Acurio International Restaurant Group) in the former Bistro Aix in the Marina. It’s going to be a Peruvian wood-fired rotisserie concept (with a custom-built charcoal grill), featuring grilled meats (including pasture-raised chickens rubbed with Peruvian spices, and slow-roasted meats cooked over charcoal on the rotisserie), cebiches, empanadas, tapas, sandwiches, salads (plus vegan and vegetarian options), and low-ABV cocktails from executive chef Javier Cussato and GM Kenzeo Mpoyi. They’re going to start with takeout and delivery, and then launch open-air dining when that’s allowed (the patio dining area has a super-high ceiling and is one big skylight, and there’s a parklet, too). Will keep you posted on a menu and launch date. Hours will be daily 11am-11pm. 3340 Steiner St. at Chestnut.
Just around the corner on Chestnut is a new Peruvian restaurant opening February 1st called CANCHA PERUVIAN BOUTIQUE GASTROBAR in the former Castagna space. (Cancha is the name for the crispy, Peruvian toasted corn that is often served as a snack and garnish.) Their menu will include ceviches, tiraditos, lomo saltado (the awesome steak and French fry stir-fry), ají de gallina (creamy chicken stew), adobo arequipeño (Peruvian pork adobo/stew), and much more—they will also be serving juices and drinks, including chicha morada, a drink made of purple corn. 2015 Chestnut St. at Fillmore.
Chef Seth Stowaway (Bar Agricole, Mister Jiu’s) has been holding pop-ups and fundraising for his live-fire, California cuisine/Tex-Mex, upscale restaurant, OSITO, which will offer one seating and menu per evening. In a post on Instagram, he has revealed the location: 2875 18th Street, at the corner of Florida, and kitty corner to the Heath building. It’s a new buildout, and construction will begin soon. Stand by for more as this develops. 2875 18th St. at Florida.
Another Instagram find: fans of the popular Vietnamese restaurant GAO Viet Kitchen in San Mateo and Ben Tre Vietnamese Homestyle in SSF, Millbrae, and San Mateo, will be happy to hear the family-run businesses are coming to SF, opening GAO BEN TRE, a combo of the two in the former KFC-Taco Bell at Irving and 20th Avenue, which was no stranger to a combo concept. In the post, the owner muses: “14 months and about $100k later (permit fee alone is around $30k) just to get permit approved to start the work. How does any small business even be able to do business in San Francisco.” Great fricking question. Anyway, the space is gutted, so this will take a bit of time, more soon. 1900 Irving St. at 20th Ave.
A tipster friend who works on Valencia Street let me know a place called CHIC’N TIME was coming to the former Burger Joint. Details have been revealed in this post on Mission Local, mentioning the owner is Michael Ho, who owned Perilla Vietnamese Cuisine. He’s going to offer a simple menu of deep-fried popcorn chicken, chicken wings, chicken noodle soup, and garlic noodles, plus imperial rolls, cabbage-chicken salad, and other appetizers—you can take a look at the menu here. He’ll be opening for takeout and delivery as soon as he passes his final inspections. Initial hours look like 11am-3pm and 5pm-9:30pm. 807 Valencia St. at 19th St.
The former Almanac Tap Room and Seven Stills tap room on 24th Street is transforming into BREWVINO, with new owner Carly Buck (and her husband). It’s going to be a combination restaurant and retail shop, serving beer and wine (duh), pizza, salads, and other family-friendly bites, while the retail space will include affordable wines from around the world, craft beer, and grab ‘n’ go food options. According to their Instagram, they got their license, and look busy putting on the finishing touches. They plan to open on Wednesday January 20th, “so people can get their celebration bubbles and pizza for Inauguration Day.” Cheers to that! 2704-6 24th St. at Potrero.
Moving out toward the beach, there’s a new owner of OCEAN BEACH CAFE, and according to some videos on his Instagram account, Joshua James is fired the eff up! There will be chef-driven sandwiches, breakfast burritos, salads, smoothies, coffee service, and in a salute to the owner’s recent sobriety, he plans to offer the largest selection of non-alcoholic beverages in the U.S. (he also says “the world,” so I’m looking forward to seeing this take shape). Delivery will also be a big part of the offering, with free delivery to the beach. There will be local art and a very community-minded sensibility. He’s going to start with a small menu, and is hoping to open in a couple weeks. 734 La Playa St. at Balboa.
New Openings Include Billingsgate in Noe Valley, Underdogs Tres
A couple quick opening updates for you! At long last, the seafood market and café from Adrian Hoffman and Ismael Macias of Four Star Seafood, BILLINGSGATE, has opened in Noe Valley. I first saw the news via Traci Des Jardins on Instagram (love her cat eyeballing the bowl of clams!). Not only are they selling a variety of seafood and shellfish for you to prepare at home, but they also have an extensive café menu of prepared dishes, from chocolate clam ceviche (it’s a type of clam, you may have tried it in Mexico) to New England clam chowder to seafood salads (check out their latest posted menu here). They also have caviar, beer, and wine to go. Get ready to pick up some Dungeness crabs! Open Tue-Fri and Sun 10am-7pm, and Sat 9am-7pm. 3859 24th St. at Vicksburg, 415-590-3001.
UNDERDOGS TRES has opened in Nopalito’s former Inner Sunset location, after moving from/closing their original Irving Street location. You can view their takeout and delivery menu of tacos, burritos, soup, breakfast, and more on their site. What’s crazy is Underdogs is down to just one location right now: Underdogs Too in the Parkside suffered a devastating fire on December 15th (thankfully, no one was hurt), but it remains to be seen what the fate of that location is—owner Doug Marschke is currently waiting to hear back from their insurance. In the meantime, they launched a GoFundMe to help their employees. 2020, what a beast. Open 11:30am-9pm daily (until 10pm Fri-Sat). 1224 9th Ave. at Lincoln.
Not Exactly Closed, But Not Exactly Open: Far East Cafe, Chloe's Cafe, Tripleta
I was so incredibly sorry to hear FAR EAST CAFE in Chinatown was closing on New Year’s Eve, just before their 100th birthday. Seriously, big thud. The vintage interior is such a remarkable time capsule, with private booths and opulent chandeliers and lanterns that made you realize the tourists were really onto something. There is also a banquet and party room upstairs, one of the few remaining in Chinatown. (You can read and see more about the restaurant in this profile here.) There was an outcry from Chinatown (and concerned city residents) about the lack of support for the neighborhood’s suffering restaurants, and supervisors Aaron Peskin and Sandra Lee Fewer stepped in to propose a $1.9M Chinatown Restaurant Support & Food Security package to help bring some relief to restaurants while helping to feed seniors and families.
While supervisors and other city agencies continue to fine-tune the proposed economic relief package for Chinatown, SF New Deal was able to immediately increase their orders with Far East Cafe—the restaurant will now provide weekly meals to Gum Moon Women’s Residence (they were already providing some meals for the Great Plates Delivered program). Far East, along with Capital Restaurant (another beloved Chinatown staple), will be the preferred providers for this women’s supportive housing site located in Chinatown, as long as Far East Cafe can continue to stay open. Talk about a last-minute save (for now)! Amazing.
It doesn’t appear that Far East Cafe is currently open for takeout, no one picks up their phone, but if you hear they have reopened to the public, order some won ton soup or mustard greens with pork and salted egg or their delicious egg foo young (classic!). Here’s hoping they make it through this immensely challenging time, they have an important birthday to celebrate. 631 Grant Ave. at Sacramento, 415-982-3245.
After 33 years of serving banana-walnut pancakes and scrambles to a dedicated following of regulars, CHLOE’S CAFE has been sold to new owners. The cafe is currently closed for a remodel, and they plan to reopen as Chloe’s Kitchen for takeout in late January (the website mentions January 22nd). 1399 Church St. at 26th St.
After experiencing an incredible test meal of TRIPLETA, the new Puerto Rican pop-up in the former AL’s Deli from brothers José and Juan Rigau and chef Aaron London (AL’s Place), I was dismayed to learn they had suddenly suspended operations just a few days later.
But what’s worse, Eater shares that it was reportedly due to a disagreement over changing ownership terms (ugh, the curse of verbal agreements), and the piece also mentions: “According to the Rigaus, when they attempted to reach a compromise regarding the partnership, London instead locked them out of a shared Google drive account containing their recipes, and brought a sous chef and line cook from Al’s Place (which is temporarily closed) into the kitchen. Then he verbally suspended their partnership and kicked them off the premises, the Rigaus say.” London says the brothers’ recounting and explanation of the events are “firmly and factually incorrect.” The whole thing is so unfortunate and extremely messed-up. Here’s hoping the Rigaus find another way to share their family recipes with us, the food was bangin’. I know London collaborated and applied some technique and tweakin’ to their recipes, but I can’t imagine running that concept without them. 598 Guerrero St. at 18th St.
Los Guisados Del Patrón Has Sadly Closed
I was so sorry to be swiping through Instagram and see one of my favorite new taco spots has closed, LOS GUISADOS DEL PATRÓN. Their extensive menu of guisados was so good—it was stewed meats heaven—at a crazy-affordable price, and with such nice hospitality. Truly kind. I will miss you, costillas con nopales en salsa roja. You too, chile relleno taco. The owners mention they will be back in some form some other time, so one can only hope—meanwhile, they continue to rock la casa (and quesabirria) at Tacos El Patrón. Best wishes. Suerte. 601 S. Van Ness Ave. at 17th St.
East Bay Updates: Miss Ollie's Closes to Change, Alley & Vine, Oakland Restaurant Week, More
Some big changes are in the works for MISS OLLIE’S OAKLAND—chef-owner Sarah Kirnon is closing the beloved restaurant concept as it existed and is working on a new, Black community-centered, nonprofit concept. The Eater piece states: “Instead, starting in January, it will morph into a new project called Sanctuary, a nonprofit venture focused on providing a platform for Black creators — chefs, yes, but also artists and other creative folks.” There’s a lot more to it, be sure to read the piece—I have a follow-up call scheduled with Sarah, so stand by for an update in the next tablehopper.
I received a note from Casey Hunt, one of the owners of the new ALLEY & VINE in Alameda, who was previously the director of events at Waterbar for 12 years, along with Francisco Bazo (previously the bar manager at One Market Restaurant for 12 years, and the beverage director at Waterbar for 10 years), and chef Jason Ryczek (also at Waterbar, and most recently the executive chef at Farallon for the past five years).
It just opened for takeout and delivery in mid-December, offering farm-to-table dishes like Liberty Farms duck breast with butternut squash, Brussels sprouts, and pearl onions from local farms, and caviar cultivated from California sturgeon on top of a smoked sturgeon quiche (from that same fish!), plus casual dishes like a prime rib roast French dip sandwich on locally baked bread. Take a look at their full menu on their site; there’s also a meal kit for two. They’re also offering craft cocktails, wine, and beer to go—there’s a happy hour daily from 3pm-6pm, and they conveniently have a parking lot for curbside pickup. Follow @alleyandvine for updates. Hours are daily 12pm-8pm. 1332 Park Street, Suite D at Central Ave., Alameda, 510-227-5006.
It’s a tough time to run Oakland Restaurant Week, but they’re forging ahead with a variety of specials from 59 restaurants who would love to see you and have your support, from newcomers like Daughter’s Diner to established spots like Daughter Thai. Specials run through January 18th.
According to this post on Instagram, there’s a new SEÑOR SISIG to-go window in Downtown Oakland at 1628 Webster Street. They’re offering both their original menu as well as their plant-based Señor Sisig Vegano menu. Order ahead for pick up or delivery. Open 11am-8pm.
There are additional updates of new East Bay openings and expansions and moves, like Square Pie Guys, Popoca, Augie’s Montreal Deli, breakfast at Chez Panisse, and more—read this Nosh post for details. Meanwhile, this extensive post has a full lineup of December openings and closings, including the retirement of June Taylor, after 30-plus years of making her superlative marmalades and more (you can read further details in this SFGate piece).
Don't Miss the Good Food Awards and Pop-Up Shop
People who love food products [raises both hands], mark your calendars for Friday January 22nd (5:30pm), for the Good Food Awards Ceremony! With a livestream viewing ticket, you can be the first to hear who is named a 2021 Award Winner, with a special opportunity to get a glimpse into their kitchens and farms. You’ll also get a digital cookbook, with favorite recipes from the newly minted Good Food Award Winners.
You can apply $5 of your $25 ticket toward the Good Food Awards Pop-Up Shop (to be used before Sunday January 31st); the online marketplace will launch on Monday January 25th, featuring products from nearly 50 percent of this year’s winners. You’ll be able to shop for cheeses, sweets, coffee, pickles, and preserves, one-of-a-kind elixirs and spirits, and build the cheese and charcuterie board of your dreams. The marketplace will feature over 100 crafter listings, and what’s great is you’ll be able to purchase items from multiple Good Food Award winners in one transaction.