Been eating a whole bunch of noodles over here. This bowl of creamy kabocha-chicken udon from Kagawa-Ya really hit the spot. Photo: © tablehopper.com.
Hello, friends. It has been a minute! And yes, this column is a day late, for a multitude of reasons. Doing the best I can over here. It has also been a unique challenge to focus on writing this week’s column while watching an attempt to strip women and people who need abortion care in America of their hard-won right to have full autonomy over their own bodies. Infuriating comes close to explaining how this all feels, but there are many more levels of emotion (rage, horror, disbelief, fear, and an overarching desire to burn the patriarchy to the ground). It’s (yet another) really dark time in our country. I know we’re all SO TIRED of SO many things, but please stay loud, engaged, supportive, and mobilized for reproductive justice and body autonomy. And if you’re going to tell me to “just stick to food” in this column, please, just unsubscribe right now, I don’t even need to hear it. My body, my column.
Personally, I have already been pretty wiped out the past two weeks…I’m about to do a big, personal share here, and it’s because I care about your health and well-being more than my own privacy. After participating in my first in-person event in two fricking years, I ended up (most likely) contracting Covid from a friend who I chatted with for about a minute (she reached out the next day to tell me she just tested positive, although she didn’t have any symptoms when she was at the event). I was taking what I thought was a somewhat-safe, calculated risk (the room where I was hosting my canna bar had a fourth wall completely open to the outside, so it was extremely well-ventilated), there was a vaccination policy at the event, and I was able to keep my distance by staying behind my table. I’m vaxxed and boosted. Nope, that Miss Rona, she still got me. (I told her she wasn’t on the guest list, but she still had the nerve to show her ugly face!) This variant is crazy-contagious, I can’t believe the infection and reinfection stories I’m hearing lately.
Three days later, I started getting a sore throat and strange body aches. Ruh roh. I did a rapid test at home, which came up negative, so I decided to get a PCR to be sure, because I was definitely starting to feel bad (runny nose, fatigue, feverish). When I got the positive results back on Sunday, things had definitely gotten worse, with horrible congestion, sneezing, and a deep cough. Both my sister (a family nurse practitioner) and a good friend who works with the City’s Covid task force said I should get Paxlovid, which I have been reading about as an effective antiviral medication that diminishes Covid symptoms and severity (and helps keep you out of the hospital) if you have underlying conditions that could lead to developing severe Covid. But it’s crucial you take it within five days of symptom onset, so I was on the clock. (It’s kind of like Tamiflu in that way.)
I called my doctor’s after-hours service, shared my worsening (and worrisome) symptoms, and they said I needed to come into the ER for observation. After measuring my oxygen levels and taking my blood pressure (and that’s all they did, they didn’t even listen to my lungs, thanks for forcing me to get out of bed), they handed me the scrip for Paxlovid, but then said, “Here you go, but we have no idea where you can find it, look at the URL on the scrip. It’s really tough to find.” Great. Thanks a lot. I was like, can I have a clue? Have you heard of any pharmacies that have it so I can go there right now? What’s up with the Paxlovid treasure hunt, and on a Sunday evening? This is why Test to Treat is so important (more on that below).
Of course, our 24-hour pharmacy in the Castro didn’t have it, and thanks to my friend for sending me this exceedingly helpful spreadsheet that outlines Paxlovid supply around the Bay (and other Covid therapeutics), it was easier to read than other resources I was provided. Fortunately, my sister is an ace, and remembered there was a 24-hour pharmacy in Alameda, where she was able to fill my scrip and drove over to pick it up for me. FIVE GOLD STARS.
Considering the importance of taking this medication early on after symptoms, it was extremely disheartening to be on such a wild goose chase to find it, and if I didn’t have someone amazingly helpful with a car to go get it for me, I would have had to wait until the next day to get it. Hello, the clock was ticking! This pathetic lack of accessibility is so wrong. (Here’s an important resource for you that I wish I knew about sooner, the Test to Treat initiative, which will help you get tested and receive medication on the spot if you’re eligible. Sounds great in theory, check it out.)
Something else I wanted to tell you to be aware of in case you get sick and want to get Paxlovid: the system automatically defaulted my scrip to one day less of treatment, assuming I had “moderate renal impairment,” which was not true. After reviewing my labs from a few years ago, my sister was able to confirm I didn’t have any kidney issues, and called the ER doctor to update my prescription. She asked why they gave me the reduced treatment (four days instead of five), and the doc admitted it was a system default and didn’t question it. Great, thanks! Again, if it wasn’t for my sister in healthcare advocating for me, this would have been a very different story. She also got her stethoscope to listen to my lungs since the ER doc couldn’t be bothered. I just love American healthcare!
I sent out a Covid exposure notification on my iPhone (do you have that turned on?) before falling back into my crypt, and started noticing a difference in about 24 hours—primarily, that my symptoms (and breathing) weren’t worsening, and then two days later, the fever, nasal congestion, and cough weren’t as bad. I had extreme fatigue throughout the first 10 days, and am still quite tired (I have to take a daily nap, which isn’t like me at all). I was also a bit spacey, and it has been hard to concentrate. I made sure to drink a ton of water—I have to say, those pills were potent (you could taste them before you even swallowed them), and I occasionally had a weird metallic taste in my mouth (for six days).
Does this sound like Covid is “just a cold?” No, it isn’t. Covid is no fricking joke, and even though some people barely got sick from Omicron, it doesn’t mean that’s going to be the case for you. The last time I felt this ill, it was when I had the flu about nine years ago, and couldn’t leave my bed for a week. This felt about the same. So, I’m just saying: don’t get complacent or cavalier. Stay vigilant, stay healthy, and think about diminishing your exposure, especially right now. Dr. Bob Wachter (my Covid barometer on Twitter) says there’s more Covid around and is estimating that every 1 in 30 people in SF is positive with asymptomatic Covid—based on the numbers of friends getting sick right now, I’d say that sounds about right. Miss Rona is back on the town, and she is really in the mixx! You might think you have bad allergies, but odds are that it’s Covid. Test often, especially if you have any symptoms (however slight!) or have been at a gathering, and mask up on essential public spaces like public transit.
I have been extremely cautious the past two years (my friends can attest to my freaky ways)—I haven’t been dining inside restaurants unless there were some very specific conditions met (sitting by a window, or in a huuuge booth, or the dining room was empty). No bars, no clubs, no parties. It has been tough to be so vigilant, trust me, and I’m upset she finally got me, but I made a choice to be at that event, and with so much sneaky Covid around, I sadly broke my healthy streak.
Well, now that I’m testing negative (let’s hope it stays that way) and feeling better, you can trust that I’m taking this hybrid immunity on the town for the next 60 days, at least! I will be in the club, in the bar, at your packed sushi bar, and at your communal table. Hopper in the house! (As soon as I have some energy back.)
I’m going to write a recap of some of my favorite home-sick tips (soups, baby!), and what to do for a friend who’s sick. But first, I had to get this column out since I’m so behind on sharing the news.
Quick reminder: this Saturday May 7th is the California Artisan Cheese Festival in Santa Rosa, with over 100 local artisans, and a lot of fresh air. It’s a great place to take Mom for an early Mother’s Day outing (that’s what I’m doing!). And I just have to say, whether Mother’s Day is a joyful day or a bittersweet one or a sad one, I am sending you lots of love.
Lastly, I wanted to share my first piece for The Examiner, which ran on 4/19 (mymilligram’s fourth birthday): Why I celebrate 4/20 the day before. It was a pleasure to write about microdosing and why I love it as a highly functioning lady! I sure as hell am thankful for the weed to chill out with everything happening right now, boy, do we need it. If you have always wanted to try something, order some CANNs on Sava (I love the lime basil), or get Mom a nice topical like Sweet Releaf for her tired, achy hands; use code mymilligram for $75 off your first order through 5/12, meowza.
Best wishes, stay healthy, and Happy AAPI Heritage Month! Marcia Gagliardi
A few weeks ago, fans of Clint and Yoko’s NOODLE IN A HAYSTACK ramen pop-up witnessed a first look (on Instagram) at their upcoming restaurant in the Inner Richmond. It was so exciting to see their beautiful wood counter and natural modern seats. They are now in a private, soft-opening phase, but unless you were a backer of their Kickstarter, it will likely be a while until you can experience their special ramen and tasting menu—they have 700 Kickstarter backers they need to feed first (FYI, there are still some opportunities for any high rollers!). Although they desperately need some income coming in, so (BIG PSSSST HERE) they’re going to open extremely limited reservations for some of the seatings to non-Kickstarter friends—keep your eyes peeled for an announcement within a week or so. (Watch their Instagram and Facebook stories and keep an eye out for their newsletter.)
Their story of trying to open this restaurant has been a particular kind of hell—they thought they could open in six months, and it has dragged on for over a year. They have had to do so many unexpected things for the space (including install a hood), deal with permit snags and ABC license issues, and pay for things like a labor attorney. The expenses have continued to mount, putting these first-time business owners into a stressful pressure cooker as they try to figure out their path forward.
They really envisioned a casual neighborhood place, with a lot of one-on-one care, but the cold, hard financial realities of opening this restaurant are forcing them to charge more than they would like, and offer more seatings. The good news is their ramen (and other dishes) are so utterly delicious, and they have such a dedicated following, that I know people are going to show up for them. The $139 tasting menu is going to feature four appetizers/small bites, one ramen (eventually it will be two kinds of ramen dishes and styles, each served in a smaller portion size), and one dessert (eventually two).
It’s going to be a hearty menu: the appetizer courses will feature dishes like deep-fried milk bread with wagyu butter (it’s like whipped, roasted A5 lardo), and their trademark deviled ramen egg with Ikura shoyu-zuke, chicken cracklin’, smoked fish powder, and pickled daikon. New dishes include dashi-an uni tofu, with Hokkaido uni, ikura, dashi gravy, silken tofu, and roasted shrimp oil (wow), and a kanpachi crudo with yuzu dashi ponzu, roasted garlic oil, and cilantro.
When the duo of ramens are served, imagine a light, clear, delicate shio broth, followed by a gutsy, rich, A5 wagyu abura soba (a dry-style noodle dish with a concentrated shoyu tare, roasted wagyu drippings, whipped wagyu “butter,” katsuo dashi, 63° egg, thick tsukemen noodles, and beef dashi menma). Sign me up!
A sample dessert will include annin dofu kakigoori (shaved ice), almond jelly, and kiwi preserves. Yoko’s passion for baking will really shine throughout the menu, with sweet and savory delights like financiers with caviar and sandwich cookies.
The space has 12 seats total at the L-shaped counter around the open kitchen, with a beautiful bar of reclaimed pine from Evan Shively—Clint tells me the 16-foot slab became the centerpiece and heart of the restaurant. They’re excited to start serving on the beautiful dishes and sake glasses they have been stockpiling—the dinner is going to be an elevated presentation.
They’re planning to start with three nights a week while they get their sea legs. While they’re eager to offer two seatings, they’re likely going to start with one—they’re having a hard time balancing childcare (their kid is in AA basketball) and their beloved dog Toto (she is their mascot) has not been doing well and requires a lot of extra care that they feel bad asking someone to oversee while they’re at work. It breaks my heart to hear how much they’re trying to manage. But they are so determined to persevere. Here’s wishing them the best. 4601 Geary Ave. at 10th Ave.
When I recently walked by the soon-to-open SHUGGIE’S TRASH PIE + NATURAL WINE about a month or so ago, I seriously felt my eyes bug out. There was so much vibrant green and yellow and glitter and kitsch, I was like, this can’t be San Francisco. But yes, it is—no subway tile or sage green or reclaimed wood communal tables in sight! And what a fitting business and aesthetic to take over the former Velvet Cantina (AKA the Regal Beagle to my friends a long time ago). Good times were had, and good times will continue (there will also be a margarita on the rocks on the menu)!
Shuggie’s is from food-waste activists Kayla Abe (Foodwise and Oatly) and chef David Murphy (Whitechapel, Madera, and Uchi in Austin), who have saved upwards of 40K pounds of produce to date with their other food-waste fighting project and award-winning pickle company, Ugly Pickle Co. Here at Shuggie’s, they’re offering an upcycled menu of shared plates and pizza (“trash pies”), using irregular or surplus California produce, byproducts from food manufacturing, and offcuts of meat, all paired with low-intervention, natural wines (there’s even an in-house bottle shop, The Wine Bodega). Plus: frosé, a seasonal blemished fruit slushie.
So, when you look at their menu, you’ll see all the scraps and leftovers and stems they’re rescuing listed, and their buffalo wings include gizzards (yes!), livers, and hearts. Even the pizza dough incorporates spent oat flour (the by-product from oat milk) and whey, a byproduct of cheesemaking (vegan dough available upon request). The upcycled dough is also used in their “soon-to-be-famous garlic knots,” with housemade ricotta fluff, carrot top chimichurri, herbs, and leaves.
About the pizza: it’s grandma-style, a thin and crispy square-cut pizza, with creative combos like The Casino (mussels, trotters, wilty greens, and parmesan furikake)—there will be five rotating pies highlighting irregular or surplus California produce, short-coded cheese from local dairy partner Cowgirl Creamery, and offcuts. You can read more about their mission on their site—nerd out for a moment!
Amazingly, Abe and Murphy designed the restaurant themselves, calling it “Hollywood Regency meets roller disco,” with thrifted and repurposed décor. There’s the monochromatic yellow dining room with multiple disco balls, a yellow lip-shaped sofa, and a cheetah mural by Abe, or the green room, with a nine-seat bar and built-in booths with green glitter in the booth upholstery and countertops. Long, slow clap for giving the City something fun and bold.
Open for dinner Tue-Thu 5pm-10pm and Fri-Sat 5pm-12am. 3349 23rd St. at Bartlett.
After an 18-year-run at their Union Square location, and a two-year pandemic-related closure, COLIBRÍ MEXICAN BISTRO has reopened in the Presidio Officers’ Club, one of SF’s oldest buildings.
Owner Eduardo Rallo is bringing over 50 percent of his original team, including executive chef Edgar Castro, who will be including some dishes from his birthplace of Mérida, Yucatan, as well as new and popular dishes, like quesabirria. The menu includes pozole verde, chilaquiles verdes o rojos, tlayuda vegetariana, enchiladas, and many antojitos (and handmade tortillas) prepared at the outdoor comal.
Lead bartender Viridiana Gallardo is heading the beverage program, which will have a diverse list of mezcals. The historic interior of the restaurant is something special, and the outdoor patio is going to be perfect for brunch (available Sat-Sun 10:30am-3pm). Open Mon-Fri 11:30am-9pm and Sat-Sun 10:30am-10pm; happy hour Mon- Fri 3pm-6pm. 50 Moraga Ave.
In a recent tablehopper newsletter, I mentioned the opening of Sura-Gan, and now there’s another higher-end, modern Korean spot I mentioned, BAN SANG, from the group behind Daeho in the former Izakaya Kou in the Fillmore. It was originally going to be a set menu ($70) from Ethan Min (Atelier Crenn, Saison, Kinjo) and Jin Lim (Michael Mina, Kinjo, Kabuto), but the opening menu is actually à la carte. There are dishes like the already-popular uni scallop toast ($27), Hokkaido scallop, trout roe, soy yolk sauce, toasted bread, nori purée; mulhwe sea bream ($21), fermented chili broth, seaweed oil, cucumber, pickled daikon crystal plant; lime soy fried chicken ($15), lime soy sauce, blistered shishito pepper, cilantro, omija radish pickle; and pork collar ($19), Brussels sprouts, Savoy cabbage purée, sautéed kale, and leeks vinaigrette. Open Tue-Sat 5pm-9pm. 1560 Fillmore St. at Geary.
Now open in the Marina is ILCHA, a more-casual Korean joint designed to serve anju (bar food) and drinks. (In Korean, “ilcha” means first round.) According to a recent Instagram post, the project is a collaboration from Kummi of The Lucky Pig and Hilwin of Nabe (which was previously in the location). The menu includes cheese tteok kkochi (grilled cheese rice cake skewers), bulgogi tater tots, ganjang saewoo (soy-marinated raw shrimp with egg yolk rice, crushed seaweed, sesame oil, wasabi), Korean fried chicken, and bossam and oysters. Look for plenty of soju, makgeolli, beer, and more. Open Wed-Sun 6pm-10pm. 2151 Lombard St. at Fillmore.
The Marina has a new spot for dumplings, DUMPLING UNION, with spicy pork xiao long bao (along with four other kinds of XLB), boiled pork and cabbage, siu mai, and an eclectic menu of dishes like hot & sour soup, tom yum seafood soup, Sichuan dan dan noodles, and kung pao chicken. Open Wed-Mon 11:30am-3pm and 5pm-9pm. 1809 Union St. at Octavia.
The former Kezar Bar and Restaurant (since 1989) just had an extensive nine-month redo, now stepping out as COLE VALLEY TAVERN. Owner Jim Angelus (Bacon Bacon, former GM of E&O Trading Co and Pacific Catch) has relaunched the cocktail menu under bar manager Maxwell Salvati, while chef Lacie Smith is overseeing a menu of West Coast comfort food, with tavern classics like buffalo wings and burgers, plus cioppino, bay shrimp gratin dip, and French onion soup grilled cheese. Their great fries continue on! There’s also a new to-go window, serving soft-serve ice cream, featuring the British classic 99 Flake. Hours to start are Mon-Wed 4pm-11pm, Thu-Sat 4pm-12am, and Sunday will feature a pop-up from chef Seamus Gibney out of Oakland: Cod Damn Fish & Chips (the bar will also be open for service); brunch is coming soon. Outdoor seating is available. 900 Cole St. at Carl.
There’s a new Tunisian restaurant that just opened in the FiDi, and it’s not fast-casual! The menu at DAR FATMA includes breakfast dishes like shakshuka, while lunch has merguez sausage with tastira (peppers and eggs) and fries; three kinds of salads; chicken, lamb, or kefta skewers with rice; couscous; shawarma and burgers; and lamb mosli tajine. There are tables inside and on the sidewalk. Open Mon-Fri 11am-3pm and 5pm-8:30pm/9pm or so, and Sat 5pm-9pm. 201 Pine St. at Battery.
Great news in the Mission: the former Revolution Cafe location has been reopened as IVORY & VINE, a wine and piano bar with Greek mezzes from Chris Nickolopoulos, who owns the charming Linden & Laguna in Hayes Valley. What’s amazing is The Rev used to be called Papa Toby’s Revolution Cafe, and Linden & Laguna was Momi Toby’s Revolution Cafe, a sister business. It’s kismet. He has a baby grand from the neighborhood church installed in the place, and is on the board of the Golden Gate Symphony, so it looks like the location’s bohemian and musical roots will sprout once again. Read more in this post in Mission Local. Open Wed-Thu 4pm-11pm, Fri-Sat 4pm-12am, Sun 4pm-10pm (kitchen closes at 10pm nightly). 3248 22nd St. at Bartlett.
Coming Soon: New Paganini Project in The Grove Hayes Valley, Empire Pizza, The Old Clam House Returns!
Some quick coming soon notes: Adriano Paganini and his Back of the House group will be opening a new fast-casual concept/version of the plant-based Wildseed in the former Grove location in Hayes Valley. [Via San Francisco Business Times]
Meanwhile, the owners of The Grove are taking over the Pizzeria Delfina that opened next to their Mission Street/Yerba Buena location downtown. It will be called EMPIRE PIZZA, and will reportedly be focused on true New York-style pizza (with former Pizzeria Delfina pizzaiolo Brandon Wells leading the helm). Since SFist has someone paying for their SF Biz Times subscription, you can read more in their piece. The big slices are coming in June. 688 Mission St. at 3rd St.
I had some folks reach out to me on Instagram about new owners coming to SF’s oldest restaurant (161 years old!), THE OLD CLAM HOUSE, which has been shuttered since the beginning of the pandemic. The new owners are the family behind Mona Lisa in North Beach, and reportedly plan to keep things mostly the same. Hurrah! The reopening is slated for this month. 299 Bayshore Blvd. at Oakdale. [Via Chronicle]
SF long-timers will be sad to learn that POMELO on Judah has closed after almost 25 years of business—their last day was April 30th, 2022. Their closure announcement stated: “In addition to the loss of our lease and a financially devastating 2 years of pandemic, it has become an insurmountable challenge to keep up with ever increasing costs and supply chain issues, secure qualified staffing, and work through the city red tape.” They also said, “It was our great joy and privilege to take your palate around the world! We will miss all of you and want to thank you from the bottom of our hearts for the loyalty, friendships, and sense of family that we so generously received from you. ~your pomelo team / rolf + nelson, roger, rafael” Best wishes to the team, that was a good run. 92 Judah St. at 5th Ave.
If you follow me on Instagram, I shared the sad news that iconic Chinatown business WASHINGTON BAKERY & RESTAURANT was closing after 27 years in business. In a follow-up post, they mention: “Thank you for all the support and heartfelt messages. We realize this establishment was more than just a restaurant. It possesses many nostalgic memories and is a huge part of the community. We are beyond grateful for all our customers and organizations that supported us throughout these years, especially through the difficulties of the pandemic. We came out surviving the pandemic due to all the resources and meal partnerships provided to us. Our lease was coming to an end and we sold the restaurant to a buyer who really admired and wanted our space. Hon’s Wunton willl be taking over our space and we believe that they will utilize our space to its full potential as well as offer delicious food. We encourage everyone to support their business as well as continuing to support your local Chinatown businesses. Until we all meet again.”
A big departure at ZUNI CAFÉ: pastry chef Annie Callan has left after 13 years. Zuni posted a thoughtful farewell to this talented force! “Annie started at Zuni Cafe in 2009 as an assistant in our pastry department. Working closely under Chef Judy Rodgers direction, her gifts as a talented baker were apparent and she quickly assumed the role of Pastry Chef. Chef Annie guided the creative direction of our dessert menu in her years as Pastry Chef, creating a beautiful balance of seasonal fruits based pastries, desserts, ice creams, and sorbets.
“Annie is also a skilled organizer and fundraiser. Since 2019 she has organized fundraising events in support of civil rights, reproductive rights, women’s health, and anti-racist focused organizations. Her organizing work led to $130,000 in fundraising through bake sales featuring some of the best pastry chefs and bakers in California.
“We have been immensely fortunate to work alongside her for so long and appreciate her immense contributions to the excellence we strive towards. We wish her the very best as she continues in her career and for everyday to be a great hair day.” Thank you, Annie! She mentions, “Have no fears about the dessert program though! It’s being left in the very capable hands of Jeremy Balagey and his new assistant Steven. I am super excited for the next phase of my career and coming back to Zuni as a customer.”
Here’s a quick update on a couple new bars that have opened up around town, starting with LOBBY BAR in the Hotel Castro, with a “retroglam” style, serving a full list of $15 cocktails and bar snacks, plus a couple flatbreads and a turkey burger (surprised it comes on a bun with fries—ooh, carbs!). Open Mon-Thu 4pm-12am, Fri 4pm-2am, Sat 2pm-2am, and Sun 2pm-12am. 4230 18th St. at Castro. [Via Hoodline]
Another retro-styled bar is FOR THE RECORD bar from Barry John Walsh (previously Future Bars), serving craft cocktails and bar bites from consulting chef Frank Hua (Unco Frank’s), in the former Mina Test Kitchen and U Dessert Story space in Cow Hollow/Marina. Open Tue-Thu 5pm-12am, Fri-Sat 5pm-2am, Sun 3pm-12am. 2120 Greenwich St. at Fillmore. [Via Eater]
Berber has recently launched Sunday brunch, offering exquisite, award-winning Mediterranean cuisine in a lush, North African haven, located in the heart of San Francisco. Recognized for our weekly live cirque entertainment and innovative programming, we’re reinventing the Bay Area’s concept of dinner theater.
Our Sunday brunch giveaway includes a refined French Moroccan menu for two and a complimentary bottle of bubbles (total value is $150), created by our Michelin-acclaimed chef and team. Some brunch dishes to tempt you include shakshuka, Moroccan-spiced chicken and waffles, Moroccan ‘1000 hole’ pancake, Moroccan French toast, and Moroccan lamb jerky and eggs. Sunday brunch is 11am-3pm. 1516 Broadway at Polk, San Francisco, 415-800-7767.
To enter to win, all you need to do is visit this @tablehopper post on Instagram!
One lucky winner will be announced on Monday May 9th (at 10am PT), so don’t delay! (Retail value: $150.) Don’t want to wait and see if you won? Reserve your table now for Mother’s Day!