By Katie Sweeney By Katie Sweeney | March 17, 2023 | Food & Drink Feature
From beloved restaurants in new spaces to new tasting menus, the month ahead offers exceptional dishes for Bay Area gourmands.
Chawanmushi with snow crab and Hokkaido uni at Akikos
Shokupan at Akikos
Chef-owner Ray Lee recently reopened his beloved Japanese restaurant, Akikos, in a gorgeous street-level space at The Avery. Sushi fans will love Lee’s excellent omakase featuring single-line- caught fish flown in from Tokyo’s famed Toyosu market. “Our focus continues to remain on delivering a one-of-a-kind culinary experience,” Lee explains. “I’ve been drawn to omakase since I was first introduced to it in Japan, and I relish the challenge to create a new, compelling tasting menu daily.” So what’s for lunch or dinner? Chawanmushi with black truffle, wagyu dumplings with aged Parmesan, and shokupan with toro and caviar. There’s also a generous portion of nigiri, including dry-aged tuna and young barracuda. 430 Folsom St., 415.397.3218, akikosrestaurant.com
Anomaly SF offers lofty yet comforting dining experiences, including this fennel dish.
A new kid on the block (specifically, Laurel Heights) is making waves with his 11-course all-inclusive tasting menu. At Anomaly SF, chef Mike Lanham says he and his culinary team “go to great lengths to present something familiar in a way that’s unfamiliar.” The culinary experience, dubbed Home for the First Time, features thoughtful dishes that are lofty yet comforting. An egg preparation isn’t an egg but yolk jam atop a smoky dashi potato foam. Fennel is served pureed in the style of pommes Robuchon, and filet mignon is paired with beet mille-feuille, Parmesan and clarified butter. Don’t eat dairy or beef? Lanham and his team will cater to special dietary needs: “We just want to encourage people to come as they are and let us cook for them.” 2600 Sutter St., 415.510.9468, anomalysf.com
Chef-owner Dirk Tolsma at Acre
Over in Rockridge, Acre is open in the location that formerly housed trailblazer Oliveto. The new team, chef-owner Dirk Tolsma and managing partner Pete Sittnick, hope to carry on the legacy with ingredientdriven California-Mediterranean cuisine and source from the same farms. The two-story space features an all-day cafe downstairs and a more formal restaurant upstairs. The opening menu includes garlic shrimp, cacio e pepe gnocchi and rotisserie chicken. At the cafe, there’s a stone hearth that produces crowdpleasing pizzas. “I’m really focused on creating an environment throughout the restaurant that’s joyful and motivated,” Tolsma says. Adds Sittnick, “Our goal is to provide a restaurant where guests will feel welcomed and cherished by nourishing food and exuberant hospitality.” 5655 College Ave., Oakland, 510.250.3790, acrekitchenandbar.com
The bright and art-forward design at Cassava on Columbus Avenue
Another adored eatery that’s relocated? Cassava. “After 10 years, we had outgrown our space and found this perfectly sized restaurant on a very iconic corner,” owner Yuka Ioroi says. The move is serendipitous for Ioroi and her husband and co-owner, Kristoffer Toliao, as the couple dined at the former restaurant on their first trip to San Francisco. The concept hasn’t changed: Cassava offers a delectable three-course seasonal menu, but more space has its benefits. “A larger kitchen means we can elevate our modern Californian menu and connect with more purveyors who are ethically sourcing the best local ingredients,” Ioroi explains. Must-try dishes include slow-braised lamb belly, salmon crudo and buttermilk fried chicken. Brunch is served from Thursday to Sunday, and the Japanese breakfast, with broccoli rabe kimchi and soft poached egg, is divine. 401 Columbus Ave., 415.640.8990, cassavasf.com
Cassava offers a three-course seasonal menu.
Photography by: JOSEPH WEAVER; ANDREA BARTLEY; ALBERT LAW; COURTESY OF BRAND