It’s been an exhausting, thrilling whirl of new openings this month (check out last week’s Appetite). As usual, I hit most new SF openings right away, then continue to revisit as they settle in (if they are worth revisiting, which is often the case). Here’s an initial take on more recent openings. For further details, check out my upcoming July 1st issue of The Perfect Spot)
SKOOL – On a sunny, Potrero Hill afternoon during Skool’s (soft) opening week, June 21, I wandered over to this new fish haven run by husband and wife duos, Toshihoro and Hiroko Nagano (of my beloved Bushi Tei) and Andy and Olia Mirabell (of Blowfish Sushi to Die For). The Zen-peace of the patio, enclosed in gorgeous Japanese foliage, is brightened by orange Aperol umbrellas. Inside it’s sleek, Japanese minimalism in the form of warm, brown woods and gentle lighting. I’m already plotting another visit this week and anticipating their addition of dinner once they get their liquor license (lunch only at the moment). They make good sans alcohol with fine teas, Illy coffee and virgin drinks like Teacher’s Pet ($4): apple juice, honey water, topped with ginger foam and a basil leaf. I almost don’t miss a cocktail.There’s hefty “lunch box” sandwiches, like Dungeness crab ($13) tossed in a light mayo with yuzu whole grain mustard, topped with avocado, butter lettuce, tomato, and a poached free range egg; or a Washugyu Sandwich ($15) with coffee-marinated washu-beef, mozzarella and Parmesan cheese, caramelized onion, pepper cress and wasabi aioli. Dessert offers a seductively jiggly Lavender Panna Cotta ($6), surprisingly light, delicately drizzled with a honey vanilla bean sauce. I definitely see a Bushi Tei freshness and creativity at work here. And how can you not fall in love with that patio?
1725 Alameda, SF
SPICE KIT — Just opened June 28, this airy, high-ceilinged take-out spot with a few tables inside and out on a patio in the shadow of SoMa high-rises, Spice Kit keeps its menu simple. Choose a ssam (stuffed Korean rice paper wrap), Vietnamese banh mi or salad with five-spice chicken, beef shortrib, roasted pork or seared/braised organic tofu. Sides are simple (crispy lotus chips, grilled pork belly buns), as are drinks (Calamansi Limeade, Vietnamese iced coffee), and prices happily under $8. Spice Kit may not exactly be Momofuku West, but it does have hints of that ethos, opened by two self-proclaimed French-trained Asian guys who cooked at restaurants you may have heard of: The French Laundry and Per Se? I wouldn’t say travel across town for it, but if you work nearby, it’ll most likely be added to your lunch rotation.
405 Howard, SF.
ROAM ARTISAN BURGERS — I’ve tasted through all four burgers at Cow Hollow’s new burger joint, which opened on June 21: grass-fed beef, bison (lean, meaty), turkey, and veggie. All come with various topping choices, whether fried egg or Southwestern veggies, but the veggie burger especially impressed. Veggie burgers never taste like (or replace) meat burgers for me, but this is a unique, veggie sandwich with patties made primarily of quinoa and beets, loaded with avocado. Straus Creamery (http://www.strausfamilycreamery.com) shakes are lush in flavors like Salted Caramel and Matcha Green Tea. Kombucha on tap is refreshingly smooth. But Sweet Potato Fries cooked in maple syrup may have been my favorite item at this casually chic burger lounge.
1785 Union Street