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Jun 29, 2023 17 min read

This week’s tablehopper: on a cloud. (free)

This week’s tablehopper: on a cloud. (free)
Table of Contents

what’s cookin’

Trans March 2023 at Dolores Park
Trans March 2023 at Dolores Park (with love to Jill and Wendy!). Photo: ©
Hi! You’re reading the free version of tablehopper, with some of the best parts edited out (and you receive it later). Subscribe and get the newsletter equivalent of a super burrito on a secret menu!

Why hellllloooooooo! Don’t mind me screeching into your inbox a couple days later, with rainbow streaks and a cloud of glitter coming off my Pride hot-rod tires. It was one of my favorite SF Pride weekends ever, full of joy, connection, community, dancing, and celebration. (Here are some of my pics of the Trans March and weekend party highlights and a Disco Daddy portrait.) It was so needed to come together and strengthen the bonds of community and love and authenticity during these dark, backward-ass times of anti-queer legislation and attacks on queer rights and so much ugly hate. The City was loud and proud and gorgeous. What a lift. I loved seeing alllll my friends, but I also adore meeting so many new people, especially the ones here for their first SF Pride! I’m truly grateful to have been celebrating here for almost 30 years! Thanks to all of you for making this one truly epic.

If you want to show some much-needed support for the community, I want to give a shout to this raffle for Lyon-Martin Community Health, who are raising funds to expand access to their mental health services for trans, non-binary, gender non-conforming, and intersex (TGI) communities. Lyon-Martin provides therapy, psychiatry, case management, overdose prevention, addiction treatment, and crisis intervention services, and they need really additional support during these unprecedented times. I was so impressed with their harm reduction booth at the Trans March resource fair, and want to help signal boost their important work.

Wait until you see the fab raffle prizes, from Bay hot sauna sessions to personal training to gift certificates to Foreign Cinema and Mother Bar! Thanks for giving what you can, but do it now—the raffle ends on midnight on Thursday June 29th! Mwah!

Also: don’t miss the Pride bake sale happening this Friday at Four One Nine that will benefit Trans Thrive, check it out below! End Pride Month on a sweet note!

I decided to take Monday off to rest and come back down to Earth and catch my breath, so that’s why you’re getting this a day later than usual. (Actually, supporting subscribers got the newsletter on Wednesday, so you freebies are receiving this two days later.)

I also needed time to write up a bunch of firsthand visits to new restaurants—the hopper has been on the TOWN. This issue is SO packed. Supporting subscribers get to know about a secret 😎 menu item at Flour + Water Pizzeria that they shared with me!

Here’s wishing you a fab Fourth and long weekend. I’m trying to leave the fog and head up to Guerneville this weekend, I just can’t keep hanging out with Karl, we are done. So, I’m just going to put this out there to any friends reading this who would like to stay in the City for a couple or few days/nights over this extended weekend and want to snuggle with and take good care of baby girl Fortuna—please get in touch! (I’m trying to find a friend to stay overnight with her for a couple nights, because that’s what she loves and deserves. And the damn fireworks will assuredly start going off this weekend.)

Just FYI: I’m not sure about when I’m sending next week’s missive; it will probably be after the Fourth since it falls on Tuesday. So, I’ll see ya when I see ya.

Set it off!

the chatterbox

new Kuma on Valencia
The new Kuma on Valencia. Photo: ©

The New Kuma on Valencia Is Leveling Up the Mission’s Sushi Game

Last week, I was invited for a friends and family test dinner at the new Kuma on Valencia from owners Ryo Sakai and Cory Jackson, and all I can say is anyone living even slightly nearby is going to be so excited to have this sushi counter in their neighborhood.

Owners Ryo Sakai and Cory Jackson
Owners Ryo Sakai and Cory Jackson. Photo: ©

The space looks great—they worked with Pablo Ortiz of Pop /A Design on the design/architecture again, so it shares many design similarities with their Polk location. One difference is instead of sitting at bar-height at the sushi counter is you’re at table-height chairs at a long counter that gives you an eye-level view of the chefs’ sushi prep through the glass fish case full of beautiful jewels of the sea.

There are some booths separated by wood slats for four-tops that run along the front windows. The design is sleek and a bit industrial-chic, softened with lots of blond wood elements, stone, natural light (the corner location offers nice exposure), and the patterned blue wave noren (curtains). I also enjoyed drinking from the beautiful ceramic sake cups made by Ryo’s wife (Neko.Co.Neko.).

Tuna wings
Tuna wings. Photo: ©

The menu has some similar dishes to their Polk Street menu, but a new addition is the tuna wings ($24), tempura-fried and panko-crusted tuna back fins that come with a spicy dipping sauce (they were still playing around with it). You don’t want to miss these hearty bad boys—just don’t stick your dining partner in the eye with the fin. Their furikake edamame ($8) is so savory, with housemade furikake made with some of their leftover fishy bits. We also had an elegant local tofu small plate ($9), with flavor notes of ikura, shiso, ponzu, and crunchy garlic oil dressing.

Something I love is how the guys like to pay homage to their neighboring businesses and friends, so the menu already has Loló and Limón rolls on it. They really know how to be part of a community (and how to build it). If you’re a maki fan, they have all kinds of rolls.

Every time I go to Kuma, there are special sakes they’re excited to pour, from a new yamahai junmai-ginjo from local Sequoia to my new crush, the Tamagawa Ice Breaker, a cask-strength nama genshu designed to be poured over ice! What a great alternative to a whisky on the rocks.

They also have a selection of Mitchell’s ice cream for dessert for just $5. And you can come by for lunch! Join their waitlist online before heading over. Open daily 12pm–2pm and 5:30pm–10pm. 198 Valencia St. at 13th St./Duboce.

Iconic Turtle Tower Is Listing Their Larkin Street Building for Sale

exterior of Turtle Tower on Larkin
The exterior of Turtle Tower on Larkin. Photo via Yelp by Andrew D.

Sometimes there are things you really don’t want to see, let alone report on, like a real estate listing for Turtle Tower's two-story building in Little Saigon on Larkin. Ugh. Turtle Tower first opened in 2000 down the street at 631 Larkin; the business bought and moved into this larger, almost-6,000-square-foot location in 2013, when their lease was up.

I spoke with owner Thao Pham, the family’s eldest daughter, who is not ready to talk or comment on the building sale, but she did mention they are “seeing their options.” The pandemic has been so rough on the family business—as we know, the Tenderloin neighborhood has been extremely hard-hit the past three years, especially in the first months of the pandemic. Turtle Tower experienced a robbery in the middle of the day in May 2020, but fortunately no one was hurt, just extremely shaken. My friend noted there are four buildings for sale within a block of Turtle Tower—the Lee’s Sandwiches building and the market next to Lers Ros are both for sale.

Turtle Tower also had to close their Richmond location during the pandemic (at 5716 Geary Blvd.). It’s tough to see such a core SF business, truly part of the backbone of the City, fight to stay open and keep feeding the people, as they have always done.

For 23 years, Turtle Tower (“Tháp Rùa”) has been a San Francisco touchstone for so many people and numerous communities, with a wide fanbase of regulars who have their preferred order, from phở ga long (with giblets), to the sticky rice with lap cheong sausage and chicken, to the #6 with beef and braised leeks. It’s likely the most well-known restaurant in the Tenderloin, and certainly the crown jewel of Little Saigon.

Turtle Tower’s iconic #9 phở ga (chicken noodle soup)
Turtle Tower’s iconic #9 phở ga (chicken noodle soup). Photo: ©

Turtle Tower’s Northern Vietnamese style of phở ga set a benchmark in the City for what a good phở broth tastes (and looks) like. (I swear, they could call it the clearest in the business.) Chef and owner Steven Nghia Pham committed to using organic and free-range chicken very early on in the game, and taught many of us about Hanoi’s garnish-free, regional style of phở—no bean sprouts, basil, or hoisin here. This bowl has likely slayed more hangovers and colds than any other dish I can think of in SF.

Their SoMa location also remains open at 501 6th Street, which has extended hours (11am–8pm daily). I will keep you posted on any updates. Even if they do sell the Larkin building, it could take at least a few months to get through a deal and vacate, so get some lunch while you can and show some support to this beloved institution. Open daily 9am–4pm. 645 Larkin St. at Ellis.

A Firsthand Preview and Look at the Menu at Flour + Water Pizzeria

Flour + Water Pizzeria in North Beach.
The new Flour + Water Pizzeria in North Beach. Photo: Kristen Loken.

Last week, after I hit send on my newsletter, I zipped over to North Beach for the industry preview party at Flour + Water Pizzeria, which just opened last evening, Wednesday June 28th. You can read my post from last week for most of the details, but here’s some extra color.

It was great to see life in the former Rose Pistola space once again (after six years!), it was such a North Beach icon. Co-chef Thomas McNaughton told me he remembers going there with a friend when he first moved to SF in 2002—it was one his first “nice” restaurants to go to, and they were counting out their cash under the table to see how much they could afford to order after looking at the menu. Awwwww. I told him he needs to bring back chef Reed Hearon’s fava beans with fresh pecorino. McNaughton noted how many people have special memories there, and that it has such good good juju. He also commented that places like Rose Pistola helped pave the way for Cal-Ital places like Flour + Water. I was happy to see the team decided to keep the tile, it works really well with the space’s crisp and Cali-clean style.

The menu is designed to have something for everyone, from a classic pepperoni to a gourmet pie like the Conrad ($23), with Taleggio, fresh mozz, mushrooms, and roasted garlic. The dough takes three days, and doesn’t feel heavy, thanks to the fermentation in the process. The style is like East Coast-meets-Neapolitan, with a slower bake and structure. Since delivery is a huge component of the model here, they’re putting down a layer of aged mozzarella directly on the dough, and the sauce goes on top (and the rest of any toppings)—the aged mozz layer helps seal in some heat and keeps the sauce from soaking in too much.

Cacio e pepe pizza.
Cacio e pepe pizza. Photo: Kristen Loken.

The Margherita starts at $18, and most hover around $22 (there are ten pizzas to start).

Since you’re a free subscriber, you’re missing out on the full pizza rundown and the secret/off-menu pizza tip.

There are also some starters on the main menu, plus salads, and soft-serve for dessert, take a look.

The main pizza oven is huge, it’s like eight feet across (if you’re going to be called the Pizza Master, then I guess you have to live up to your brand name). It took two cranes to get this Swedish monster through the front windows. It’s all-electric, and bakes the pizzas in 5–6 minutes at 600 degrees. It could have 48 pies going at once, whoa.

bar and dining room flour + water pizzeria
A look at the bar and dining room. Photo: Kristen Loken.

The second oven is the “Big Slice” oven, where they reheat the daily Big Slice, which is an homage to a big slice McNaughton used to get from a shop in New Jersey that basically sustained him and his friends for $1.50. At the pizzeria, it’s half of a 13-inch pizza that is folded over, and designed to be reheated (like a New York slice) and street-able. You can walk into the Pizza Shop for quick service (there are some tables) and takeout (including wine to go) from the back entrance at 1533 Stockton Street (and play a quick arcade game of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles while you wait for your pizza).

North Beach just keeps on getting more vibrant and delicious. Reservations are now live on Resy. Open for dinner service to start (5pm–10pm), but they’ll add lunch service starting mid-July, when hours will be 11:30am–10pm. 532 Columbus Ave. at Union.

Get Excited About Anthony Strong’s New Nightly Dinner Service at Pasta Supply Co

pasta supply co Maltagliata in basil pesto
Maltagliata in basil pesto. Photo: ©

Let me tell you, after a weekend of Pride-ing so hard, there’s nothing like sharing three bowls of pasta with your fellow wingman on a foggy and windy-ass Monday night. Congrats to Anthony Strong and his team at Pasta Supply Co in the Inner Richmond, who just launched nightly dinner service after getting us all hooked on his housemade pastas and sauces when they opened the retail shop three months ago.

But sometimes, you just want to get out of the house and have someone feed you, and you don’t want to do the dishes. You just want it to be good, but you also don’t want to break the bank, which is far too easy to happen these days. Well, here’s your spot. And how handy, there’s a dispensary across the street. (I’m jus’ sayin’. Pasta and weed.)

It’s designed to be a quick bite—there are no reservations, and as soon as you arrive, there are some white-lab coated team members who will greet you and start walking you through the menu and will take your order. They’re just trying to close that gap of time in the beginning when you’re waiting for someone to take your order at the table. It’s not exactly fast-casual, but it’s hella fast-service! A 15 percent service charge is added for dine-in, and you can add additional gratuity because the staff rocks (hi, Larry!).

House salad with Pan’terra breadcrumbs and guanciale. pasta supply co
House salad with Pan’terra breadcrumbs and guanciale. Photo: ©

The menu (LOL on the URL) has a punchy house salad ($13) with lemon, anchovy, Parmigiano, and Pan’terra breadcrumbs, and you should consider adding guanciale ($3) to it (I’d totally add chopped egg—$2—for more of a main dish-style salad). Roasted Delta asparagus ($11), Pan’terra with some dips/accompaniments, and lil’ juicy meatballs ($13) round out the starters.

There are going to be five–six housemade pastas (three right now are vegetarian), and summer is currently being repped by the sweet corn raviolini with sauerkraut and fried peppercorns ($17) and delightfully floppy maltagliata noodles coated in pesto ($15), because it’s summer somewhere. Since SF is so gross right now, you can also go for the rigatoni in lamb ragù ($17), brightened with a tasty hit of mint and pecorino. (Don’t worry about it being some hefty, hella lamb-y sauce, it’s just the right amount of savory.)

But really, the one you can’t miss is...

There are a couple desserts, and even though they’re listed as a panna cotta, I learned it’s a namelaka, an extremely creamy style of ganache-meets-mousse (developed by Valrhona). It’s my dream kind of dessert: not too sweet, topped with a drizzle of Seka Hills olive oil, fresh grapefruit, and pink peppercorns. Or you can go for a chocolate version. Plenty to share. Mwah.

Dinner is served nightly from 5pm–9pm, which means the retail shop is now open until 9pm, too! 236 Clement St. at 3rd Ave.

Eastern Mediterranean Dalida Opens in the Presidio from Laura and Sayat Ozyilmaz

Dalida spread with lamb shoulder, kebabs, and octopus.
Dalida spread with lamb shoulder, kebabs, and octopus. Photo: Maren Caruso.

After the tragic implosion of the Noosh project on Fillmore back in 2019, chefs Laura and Sayat Ozyilmaz are back in San Francisco, opening their Eastern Mediterranean restaurant Dalida as chefs-owners this time on Friday June 30th. It’s opening in the former The Commissary from Traci des Jardins on the Presidio’s Main Parade Lawn, with an updated interior (designed by Jenne Wicht of JAK W) that has a variety of environments: the dining room, a private dining room, a chef's counter, and a front patio. It will be full-service restaurant (120 seats), with a full bar under the direction of Evan Williams (Bar Agricole, Beehive, Hard Water)—with anisettes from all over the Mediterranean, including raki, ouzo, arak, and pastis—and the 100-bottle wine list from wine director Ruth Frey (Aster, Mourad, Verve) will focus on small-production, family wineries.

It will be great to have the duo’s innovative dishes back in SF once again—they gained many fans during their Istanbul Modern pop-up, before they went on to open Noosh. Laura grew up in Mexico City, and her culinary background includes Mugaritz, Eleven Madison Park, and Saison—she met Sayat during their studies at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in New York City, and they staged at 25 restaurants across Mexico and the United States for their honeymoon (crazy kids). Sayat grew up in Istanbul, and has cooked at Blue Hill at Stone Barns, Le Bernardin, Mourad, and most recently was the executive chef of CIA at Copia.

California tahdig with sea urchin. dalida
California tahdig with sea urchin. Photo: Maren Caruso.

The menu will feature a variety of mezes (think hummus, muhammara, smoked yogurt, and their memorable pita), kibbe, Middle Eastern pastas (including manti), arayes (a Lebanese burger stuffed in pita), dishes like sea urchin tahdig, and individually plated and large-format entrées (like Aleppo half chicken, Cypriot lamb chops, or twelve-hour lamb shoulder tandoor). If you have always wanted to try the stretchy Turkish ice cream, you’ll be able to try it here in flavors like honey or sour cherry (the elastic texture comes from sahlep, a starchy flour made from orchid tubers). There’s also pistachio tart, burnt Turkish rice pudding, and tres leches cake for dessert.

The name Dalida is in honor of Sayat’s mother, which in Polish-Yiddish translates to dahlia, the official flower of San Francisco. Open Wed–Sun 5pm–9pm. 101 Montgomery St. Suite 100 (not downtown!), San Francisco, 94129.

New Openings Include Day Moon and Peacock Pansy

Day Moon seeded loaves
Day Moon seeded loaves. Instagram photo via @daymoonbread.

Newly open in the Outer Sunset is Day Moon, the brick-and-mortar location of the bakery pop-up from Wendy Williams (a Tartine alum) that first started in winter of 2020 (I tried her special Venezuelan pan de jamón bread collab with Yo Tambien Cantina this last holiday season, sooooo good), and then she started posting up with a stand at the Clement Street Farmers’ Market in March 2021. Baked goodies like porridge bread, naturally leavened baguettes, whole wheat, sesame buns and loaves, scones, and chocolate chip cookies are usually on the menu. And now, folks can grab a coffee at the bakery, with even more pastries in the case. According to the latest Instagram post, they’re open Fri–Sun 9am–2pm, and are still doing Sundays at the farmers’ market. We weren’t able to connect before my deadline, but I will share more details soon. 3928 Irving St. at 40th Ave.

Peacock Pansy restaurant dining room
The new Peacock Pansy restaurant. Instagram photo via @peacockpansysf.

A restaurant called Peacock Pansy has opened in the former Johnny Doughnuts location, just outside Hayes Valley/Civic Center—I was driving by on Fulton Street and noticed the blinking sign inside (once a raver, always a raver).

Open daily 9am–3pm. It seems like dinner is in the works too. 392 Fulton St. at Gough.

Aux Delices Closing After 36 Years on Polk Street

exterior of Aux Delices
The exterior of Aux Delices. Yelp photo by the OG Ed U.

Wow, an SF old-timer is leaving us after 36 years: Aux Delices Vietnamese Restaurant in Russian Hill, since 1987 (it originally opened in Potrero Hill in 1975, 48 years ago). The Chronicle reported owners Chris and Thiet Nguyen are retiring, and their last day is this Friday June 30th. They reportedly tried to find a buyer for the restaurant, “someone to whom Thiet might teach her recipes, but none emerged.” Alas. I’m sure Russian Hill neighbors are upset over this loss. 2327 Polk St. at Union.

Collabs and Pop-Ups

I was happy to read about the collaboration between Outta Sight Pizza (the kick-ass TL slice shop) and the Great American Music Hall in SFGate and on the ‘gram—Outta Sight is now providing tasty food service during shows, with wings, pizza slices, salads, burgers, chicken sandwiches, fried dumplings, and more.

Chef Bryan Baker, formerly of Pier 23 Cafe, Alfred’s Steakhouse, and The Tradesman, reached out to let me know he’s running a pop-up out of Mission Picnic, La Mia Oca. On the (small) menu: local meat and seafood grilled on binchotan (Japanese charcoal), with market vegetable sides. The latest menu lists a big Caesar salad (radish, celery, kohlrabi, garlic crouton, Vella dry jack) for $14, and you can add chicken ($6) or fish ($8); three mains, including striped bass, braised greens, fennel, tomato from the grill ($22); and a bunch of sides for $7 (like jerk-spiced cauliflower, Meyer lemon). Wed–Sat 5pm–9pm. Cash or Venmo. 983 Valencia St. at 21st St.

Close Out Pride Month with the Treat Yoself Pastry Box from LGBTQIA+ Bakers!

treat yoself pride bake sale

So, the Pride weekend parties may be over, but Pride Month doesn’t wrap up until Saturday (Pride is every day, actually, but anyway), and here’s how to end the festivities on a sweet note! The fab folks at Four One Nine in SoMa have put together the Treat Yoself Pastry Box, featuring a delectable mix of savory and sweet items (with some vegan/gluten-free items, too!), made by local, queer bakers. 100 percent of proceeds will benefit Trans Thrive, a local nonprofit providing services for the trans community, by the trans community.

Treats include sweet corn mochi cake (GF), brownies with tahini swirl, buttermilk cake slice, raspberry-matcha-pistachio marbled cookies, mini carrot cake, manzanilla concha, stone fruit-buckwheat shortbread bars, a buckwheat chocolate chip toffee cookie (GF), and passionfruit tartlets. Can you even handle this? And all for $30! Preorders end soon! You can order up until the event this Friday. (You can also purchase the day of the event, but supplies are limited.)

Pick-up details: Friday June 30th from 8am–4pm. Fresh coffee will be brewed by WOC-owned Telescope Coffee, serving queer-owned Cosmic Dust Coffee Roasters. $1 from each cup will go towards Trans Thrive. (Can’t make the bake sale but want to support? Make a donation via the San Francisco Community Health Center.) Four One Nine, 419 10th St. at Harrison.

the sponsor

foodwise summer bash

Savor, Sip, and Celebrate the Season’s Bounty at Foodwise Summer Bash on Sunday July 16th

Celebrate 30 years of farmers markets and community at Foodwise Summer Bash, the freshest party of the season, at the Ferry Building on Sunday July 16th. Feast on unlimited food and drink from 45 beloved Bay Area restaurants and beverage makers, featuring peak-summer produce from the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. And tablehopper readers get a special discount below!

From the sunny outdoor Embarcadero promenade to the Ferry Building’s gorgeous Grand Hall, experience an epic walkaround tasting with Del Popolo, Marlena, Peaches Patties, Reem's California, Señor Sisig, and many more. Savor Valley Bar + Bottle’s Melon Salad with Pickled Chiles & Mint; Prospect's Heirloom Tomato with Peach, Burrata & Chili Crunch; Norte54’s Apricot Garibaldis; and other hyper-seasonal delights. Proceeds provide vital funds for Foodwise’s farmers markets, food access initiatives, and education programs. See the full lineup.

5:30pm–8pm. Indoor/outdoor event at the San Francisco Ferry Building (Embarcadero & Market St.), 21 and up.

Tickets: $165; take $15 off with promo code TABLEHOPPER.

the archivist

Can you believe this pink palace? Here’s the kicker: it was decorated by Dorothy Draper! I die. 💖

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