Prime Rib Eye with Wafu Dressing at Roka Akor
Yuzu Miso Marinated Black Cod at Roka Akor
Fresh juice pushers are everywhere right now: in addition to Sow, Thrive, and Pressed Juicery, we now have The Juice Shop. A delivery service started by the juicing, surfing Gulik family—Ben, Jake, Charlie and (his wife) Lina —the company opened a miniscule window on Union Street in Cow Hollow last spring. Now, a year later, they’ve just cut the ribbon on a downtown location at 353 Pine Street. This Juice Shop is housed in an abandoned flower kiosk from the 1980’s that Shane Curnyn (Matarozzi Pelsinger) helped them convert. The dust hasn’t even settled, and the Gulicks already have their next project in mind: A kiosk at Hayes Valley’s ever changing Proxy Project. Charlie Gulick describes it as “a more refined and efficient use of space than our Union Street outpost." Envelope A+D is fabricating an 8’ x 8’ redwood framed kiosk that will fold out like a book, creating a large field of influence adjacent to Ritual’s seating area. Building will start in June, and the kiosk should debut in July.
Last week, the story of bartender extraordinaire Daniel Hyatt took a surprising turn. The former The Alembic frontman will be heading up the bar program at the forthcoming San Francisco outpost of Roka Akor. Roka is a very popular (and chi chi) Chicago-based Japanese robata grill and sushi restaurant. Owner Sunny Mehra has enlisted Hyatt to create a whiskey-focused drink menu with infused shochu, although he says it won’t be overtly Japanese in theme. The new design is a flashy one for San Francisco, hinging on a glowing LED-lit robata grill at the center of the street-level dining area. The space they’re entering at 500 Jackson has a storied past, with Zinnia, Scott Howard, 500 Jackson, and other restaurants ebbing and flowing through it in years past. Unlike his predecessors, Mehra has enlisted big-time architects at Arcanum to give the interior a new personality. The plan is to open in June, and—of course—for Roka Akor to outlive all of its predecessors. “When you step into this Roka,” adds Mehra. “You will have no reminder of what there before.”
In other Japanese restaurant news, a San Francisco outpost of New York’s Glaze Terriyaki Grill will be opening next Thursday in the old Johnny Rocket’s at 1946 Fillmore Street. According to GrubStreet, the restaurant serves “Seattle-style (Korean-influenced) teriyaki plates in a fast casual atmosphere.” Here’s the full menu, which includes shishito peppers, teriyaki salmon, and Jaques Torres’ “World Famous Chocolate Cookie,” all presumably available on the fly.
Today is a landmark day for the new marriage between Starbucks and La Boulange. A slew of brand new sandwiches and baked goods debuted at 6 a.m. this morning, most of them made off-site in new production facilities designed by La Boulange honcho Pascal Rigo. According to ‘Bucks’ workers, the cake pops, breakfast sandwiches and a few other pastries will remain from the old days, but that’s it. The best barometer for success? Try the new collaboration croissant and decide for yourself if the merger is all it’s been made out to be.
The most shocking recent shuttering is—by far—Wo Hing General Store. Owner Charles Phan chose to pull the plug on his Valencia Street Chinese restaurant while the openings of his new Cajun twins, South and Hard Water, are still generating some serious buzz. It’s still unclear whether Phan will sell the Mission District space, or launch a different concept there.
Nico’s Tacos has bowed out of the North Beach taco scene, which is now dominated by Don Pisto's around the corner.
Eric Ehler’s pop-up gone permanent, Gung Ho is also closed after under five months in business. In a strange twist, it sounds as if the original investors are looking for new partners to continue the business.
Other Bits & Bites
Off the Grid’s Picnic at the Presidio returns this Sunday, and if you’ve never been it might be time to check it out. This year, Nopalito, Humphry Slocombe, Haven and Del Popolo will return on along with some 15 other food vendors. But that’s really just the beginning. There is blanket-side bar service of bloody Marys and Mimosas, horseshoes, bocce ball, kites and blankets available for rent. There will also be yoga classes, a new produce/retail market, and a DJ spinning Motown. Yup, organizer Matt Cohen thought of everything. Go here for more info.
Congrats are in order to Adam Sobel, the new RN74 chef who won Cochon 555 on Sunday. Sobel cooked a whole Magruder Ranch hog to make a menu of pork katsu with shaved octopus, Chang Mai boar meatballs, fat back tofu, spicy braised pig head, seven-day brine pastrami, pig-apple summer sausage, and—for dessert?—“Fat Elvis Return,” a tuille of peanut butter, smoked pig, banana chocolate, and passion fruit caramel. Thankfully there was plenty of tequila and bourbon on site to break through all that fat.
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