This week's tablehopper: fake spring.
Onion and white pearl course at Atelier Crenn (with the most magical French onion soup broth on the side). Photo: © tablehopper.com.
Hello, friends. I know Fortuna and I are not the only ones happy to see the sun come back today after yesterday’s grey chill (WTF). I hope you had a fabulous LOVE DAY—my adorable neighbors texted me at 10:30pm while I was up late writing this thing and asked if I’d like a freshly baked Pink Lady pastry with crème anglaise. Would I?? Awwww. HEARTS. I was still on cloud nine from a five-hour belated birthday celebration dinner at Atelier Crenn on Friday with a fab fempire table. It was also my first time eating indoors since the omi wave—what a special way to return. I’ll be posting highlights on the hopper socials soon.
MORE HEARTS: thanks to all of you who filled out the tablehopper survey! You are appreciated. Ends up I’m extending the deadline one more week (to Tuesday February 22nd), so if you haven’t filled it out yet, you can chime in with your answers this week—it will help me out so much. Consider it an early anniversary present: tablehopper turns sweet sixteen on February 21st! Can you believe it? I know some of you have been reading my column all these years, so, mwah! [sound of me popping Champagne]
How are you feeling these days? I know this epic weather has helped lift some spirits (I have loved seeing all the plum blossoms and picnics and stoop parties and couples canoodling in the park this past week). And now, San Francisco is lifting its indoor mask mandate tomorrow, which is hopeful, although mentally, I’m not there yet (and I’m still hearing stories of friends getting sick). I will continue to heed this advice, even if I’m the only one with a mask on, which was totally me at an event this past weekend, I really don’t care: “Continuing to mask in indoor public settings, especially crowded or poorly ventilated spaces, remains the safest choice for an individual and protects those who are medically vulnerable or are not able to get vaccinated, like our youngest children.”
You can read more plus some FAQs in this post from the GGRA about what this all means for restaurants and indoor dining. Here’s one excerpt: “ As such, beginning February 16th, masks will NOT be required for indoor dining in San Francisco, but proof of completion of the primary series of the COVID-19 vaccinations or proof of a negative test will continue to be required. (To clarify, boosters are not required by San Francisco for indoor dining in SF). Guests can still continue to dine outside without proof of vaccination. Some restaurants may choose to require tighter restrictions than California or San Francisco requires. Please check with your restaurant before arriving to confirm what they require for indoor dining. We are hopeful that we can continue to safely return to normal.” Aaaaaaamen.
I’m starting to see posts from restaurants on Instagram in advance of tomorrow’s mandate lift stating their own mask policies (many will continue to request masks indoors to protect their staffs), so please check in on places before you head over—know before you go! Let’s show respect for how people are trying to stay safe and healthy.
I’m looking forward to alfresco excursions to Chezchez this week, the new Kaiyo Rooftop, Chuck’s Takeaway (banh mi in the park!), Pecking House at Turntable at Lord Stanley, and the Chinese New Year Parade on Saturday. Looking like a badass week. Wishing you the same.
Gossip & News (the word on the street)
Taishoken Is Bringing Their Famed Tsukemen and Ramen to San Francisco!
I’m thrilled to share the VERY exciting news that TAISHOKEN, the iconic tsukemen and ramen shop brand in Japan, will be opening their second U.S. location in San Francisco (they opened their first shop in San Mateo in 2019). Tsukemen—the dipping of cold noodles into hot broth—started as a staff meal at Taishoken Nakano (Tokyo) sixty years ago, with the staff dunking leftover cold noodles into soup on hot days. After customers started requesting the dish, tsukemen became popular and well-known in Tokyo, and then beyond—Taishoken now has over 100 restaurants in Japan.
Taishoken is a family business that started in 1951, with founder Masayasu Sakaguchi, who invited his relative, Kazuo Yamagishi, to join him (you can read more history here). Masayasu Sakaguchi’s son, Mitsuo Sakaguchi, continued the growth, and the third generation and grandson, Yoshihiro Sakagachi, is the CEO and living here in the U.S. with his family to open and operate these new locations. He said they always planned to open in San Francisco, and he has been looking for a location for two years.
When Taishoken first opened in San Mateo in July 2019, the lines were probably the longest ones the suburban city has ever seen, and then eight months later, we know what happens next: the pandemic struck. They managed to survive with a spacious parklet and their tokusei tsukemen family takeout kits, featuring their housemade, chewy buckwheat noodles and deeply savory and umami-rich broth, with Berkshire pork chashu and a Jidori soft-boiled egg. (You can still order the kits for home.)
The new San Francisco location will be opening in the former MAU on Valencia Street, and will have 50 seats. Yoshi tells me the experience will be a bit more upscale, offering more appetizers than the San Mateo location, and the décor will be a touch elevated as well. I asked about any menu details he could share, and he said the chef is from Japan and is just getting ramped up with them, so no teasers quite yet. But he did mention there would be some limited specials, like lobster, crab, or wagyu ramen and tsukemen, so plan on some luxurious seasonal additions. (You can view the San Mateo menu here.) While the SF location will start with beer and wine (and sake, of course), they hope to eventually secure a full liquor license so they can serve cocktails in the future. He’s very excited to open in the Mission and loves the restaurant culture of the neighborhood.
The interior will have a modern Japanese style, and their noodle-making machine will be visible from the bar area. There will also be some noren curtains that will obscure the bar a little from the dining room, plus some cool surface lighting—Yoshi mentioned it will have some yatai vibes (the freestanding ramen carts).
They hope to open in June—they just started on construction. They plan to add a Shared Space with outdoor seating in time, and will eventually be open for lunch and dinner daily. When they open, they plan to serve Wed-Sun evenings to start. I will definitely keep you posted on details as this exciting project develops. 665 Valencia St. at 18th St.
Reopenings (Flour + Water, Fort Point Valencia) and Moves (Lazy Susan) and Expansions (Kaiyo Rooftop)
If you follow me on Instagram, then you already know that FLOUR+WATER has reopened after a refreshed interior (after 12 years, we all need a makeover!) and updated menu from co-chefs Thomas McNaughton and Ryan Pollnow. Take a peek at the menu, with new appetizers from the grill (like pork belly spiedini with Shinko pear, mustard greens, charred spring onion salsa verde), just a couple pizzas, and an extensive and always-appealing housemade pasta menu. It can be tough to choose (will it be the veal agnolotti verdi with celery root soffritto and fresh horseradish, or the Calabrian chile fusilli [you crazy bastard] with tomato, confit pig ear, oregano, and breadcrumbs?), so consider going for the crowd favorite, the pasta tasting menu. (My take from my desk: Flour + Water has become a smidge more upscale and elevated, while Penny Roma is the more-casual neighborhood option.) Wine director Samuel Bogue updated the wine program, featuring micro-producers across Italy and California, and look for the group’s new Pasta Water label, a collaboration with Subject to Change.
Lundberg Design refreshed the space, adding some culinary textures like hand-plastered walls raked in waves that evoke the shapes and edges of the housemade pastas. Jessica Niello-White’s original mural is joined with textures and tones from Italian marble and zinc paneling. The space is still classically minimalist and earthy, emphasizing natural materials and craft. Hours: Thu, Sun-Mon 5:30pm-10pm, Fri-Sat 5:30pm-11pm (you’ll see late reservations available on Resy). Walk-ins are still available for the bar and communal table. 2401 Harrison St. at 20th St.
Just a quick follow-up from an earlier column: FORT POINT VALENCIA is now open, with an update to opening chef Eric Ehler’s menu (the party bread, vegan yuba club, and pork chop sandwich live on, huzzah) from chef Andrew Farr (Gather, Berkeley) with guidance from culinary director Ryan Fowler (Che Fico, Absinthe). 22 taps, babes. Have you tried their Sfizio Italian Pilsner? And: there’s also wine. Happy to see this stylish and airy space open once again. A parklet/Shared Space is coming this summer. Open Wed-Thu 5pm-10pm, Fri-Sat 5pm-11pm, Sun 1pm-9pm. 742 Valencia St. at 18th St.
After a year of offering takeout and delivery from their base at SF Jazz in Hayes Valley, Chinese-American LAZY SUSAN is moving to West Portal (Lazy Susan will continue to service the city with delivery, even though they’re in a more-remote location; B-Side is set to return to the Hayes Valley space in early March).
The new location is opening Wednesday February 16th, and co-founders Hanson Li and Tiffany Yam are excited to be part of the neighborhood (they moved into New Tsing Tao, a former mother/daughter-run Chinese restaurant that was there for over 20 years—Hanson’s family is moving to West Portal, and he spotted the boarded-up restaurant when touring the neighborhood). It’s an incredible turnaround they did in this new location in just a month’s time. Whoosh. (Feels like some sort of record.) Consulting chef Eric Ehler’s menu continues to rock (have you ever had their kung pao chicken?). While the majority of the business is takeout/delivery, this new location will have four dining tables (which can seat a total of about 14 people)—and you can watch their robot (from Bear Robotics) bus dishes and check out the custom Lazy Susan wallpaper. Open 5pm-9pm daily. 811 Ulloa St. at Claremont.
I’m going to be sharing more details about this on Instagram (@tablehopper) after I visit in person this coming week, but FYI, the Kaiyo folks in Cow Hollow have expanded with a new tropical oasis on the roof of the Hyatt Place Hotel (on the 12th floor) in SoMa. KAIYO ROOFTOP will offer cocktails (there’ s a Toki Highball Machine from Suntory) and a contemporary Peruvian Nikkei menu from chef Alex Reccio, plus outstanding views and late-night hours. It opens this Wednesday February 16th. Hours: Tue-Thu 4pm-12am, Fri-Sat 4pm-2am, Sun 2pm-10pm. 701 3rd St. at Townsend.
New Openings Include Taksim, Mixiote, Wabi-Sabi SF, Chadwick's
Fellow fans of Turkish cuisine will be excited to hear about TAKSIM, a newly opened, upscale, modern Mediterranean restaurant from the Lokma team in the former Cockscomb in SoMa. (Anyone who has been to Istanbul will recognize the name, a famous square in the hip Beyoğlu neighborhood.) You can check the menu here—I’m happy to see they’re taking advantage of the former Cockscomb’s raw bar and offering oysters on the half-shell, plus flatbreads from the wood oven. There’s a full bar as well, and you’ll find some natural wines on the international wine list. Open Tue-Thu 5pm-9pm and Fri-Sat 5pm-10pm. 564 4th St. at Brannan.
Am always thrilled to hear about a La Cocina entrepreneur getting a brick-and-mortar space, and in this case, it’s MIXIOTE, opening today, February 15th, in the retail lobby of Salesforce East (this is what happens when Salesforce loves your catering). Chef-owner Alma Rodriguez is from Mexico City, and is the master of mixiotes: a slow-cooked protein marinated in a chile sauce and wrapped in maguey leaves and pit-barbecued—she adapted her family recipe and uses beef, chicken, pork, fish, or vegetables, marinating them in her family’s guajillo chile sauce, and then wraps and roasts the protein in avocado or banana leaves to give it an earthy flavor. She will be offering to-go lunch bowls Tue-Thu 11am-3pm to start. Guests can access the space through the sliding glass doors on Fremont Street. 350 Mission St. at Fremont.
Also in SoMa is a teeny-tiny new sushi spot, WABI-SABI SF, with just 12 seats (4 at the bar and 8 at 2 tables). The menu is pretty compact, to be expected, with an affordable 11-piece nigiri tasting for $42 and a deluxe chirashi for $38. There’s lunch and dinner service, with a nigiri lunch special of $22. Takeout and delivery are also available. I reached out to learn more about the owner: Toey Ti has been working at various Japanese restaurants and sushi counters in the City for the past ten years, including Umami, Ozumo, Ginza Sushi (where he was head chef), and Kuma. Open Wed-Sun 11am-2:30pm and 5pm-9:30pm. 246 Ritch St. Unit 101 at Bryant.
When you want to hail the call of carbs (awoooooooga), you can swing by the new CHADWICK’S in the Castro, serving Fun Buns (“boutique cinnamon rolls”) and Dough Boys (focaccia-style personal pies). The Original Fun Bun has cinnamon, a hint of coffee, and caramel-cream cheese icing. Meanwhile, the Dough Boy is like a cross between a pizza and olive oil pan-fried bread, available with cheese, pepperoni, or vegetarian. Open Wed-Sun 11am-3pm. 2375 Market St. at Castro.
Coming Soon: Midnite Bagel Shop, Off the Grid Fort Mason Returns in April
There’s a new bagel shop coming to the Inner Sunset from MIDNITE BAGEL founder Nick Beitcher (he was the lead baker at Tartine Bakery for five years). Eater reports he’ll still be baking his creative, tangy, whole-grain sourdough bagels out of his commissary space in Dogpatch, and will drive the fresh bagels to the storefront. His awesome cream cheese flavors (love the salmon and dill) and some bagel sandwiches will also be on offer; plus coffee. Midnite Bagel is opening in the former Tea 4 You in about three months or so. 646 Irving St. at 8th Ave.
In the meantime, you can find these flavor-forward and crusty bagels at farmers’ markets and via Pastel (I picked some up a week ago with their service in SF: sesame, poppy, and buckwheat-black sesame, plus there are bialys, bread, and everything cookies; use my link for a $20 discount off your first order of $40+, which is kind of amazing!).
Just a quick happy note to let you know Off the Grid Fort Mason is returning after a two-year break on Friday April 1st! I’ll have truck highlights (there will be 25-plus!) and more details soon, but just wanted you to know your Fridays are about to be extra-tasty again.