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Archive for the ‘Food’ Category


Local links: Sparky’s afterschool, Paul’s Hats expands to KY, Bernice Bing & more

Traffic backed up on 25th Avenue this weekend. Photo by David H.

Here’s a smattering of local links spanning from a fun, afterschool program to a Kentucky expansion of one of our oldest businesses!

  • Even “all the way out here”, we’re feeling the effects of the Bay Bridge closure. All arteries leading to the Golden Gate Bridge have been a parking lot this weekend, including Park Presidio and the 25th Avenue entrance to the Presidio. Good news – the bridge is due to open on time tomorrow morning!
  • Last year, Paul’s Hat Works on Geary launched an Indiegogo campaign to raise money for a new store in New York City. After further evaluation, the business, owned by four women, has decided to instead open their second store in Louisville, Kentucky. Paul’s has had great success selling their hats in a “pop-up” fashion during the derby – “the foremost hat event in the United States” – for the past few years. “This will be the first “second” Paul’s Hat Works since its founding in 1918. We will take custom orders at this new store, sell straw and felt hats, do hat cleanings, and hat finishing at this new store… We are very excited, a little nervous, but mostly grateful, to all of you who have made this possible for us.”
  • Sparky’s Toys & Balloons at 115 Clement Street has launched a new afterschool art program in partnership with Oflauer Design for kids age 6.5 up to 13 years old. The 6 week, $510 program promises to be “filled with Crafting, Drawing, Painting, Gardening & Floristry” and takes place at Sparky’s store. For more info, visit the Oflauer website.
  • On Friday, September 13 the de Young Museum will screen a new documentary short, The Worlds of Bernice Bing, about the life of San Francisco artist Bernice Bing. The Worlds of Bernice Bing illuminates the life and times of Bernice Bing – artist, Chinese American, lesbian, and activist. The powerful story of a woman who used color, paintbrush, and canvas to speak from her heart, this film promises to energize and inspire viewers with the resilience of a unique American icon. (Facebook). Admission is free and tickets will be available at the event beginning at 6pm; the film is at 7pm.
  • Amphawa Thai Noodle House on Geary near 14th Avenue was featured by SFGate as a Bargain Bite last week. “Amphawa doesn’t have the style of hipper counterparts in the Tenderloin, but it serves home-style Thai food with fresh ingredients and deep flavor, and without backing down on the spice level.”
4:23 pm | Posted under Business, Food, Golden Gate Park, Kids, Movies, Museums | 3 comments

E. coli outbreak at Burma Superstar; restaurant voluntarily closes for weekend

On Friday, the Health Department released a statement confirming an E. coli outbreak that sickened 14 people in San Francisco, many of whom had eaten at Burma Superstar around August 16th or 17th.

It’s the first such incident for the popular Clement Street restaurant, which has been in business for 17 years and always has a long line of customers waiting for a table.

The restaurant voluntarily closed on Friday for the weekend, and posted a letter on their windows for customers.

The letter includes a statement from Burma Superstar owner Desmond Tan, saying “we are confident any exposure has been eliminated”. Tan goes on to say that he voluntarily decided to close the restaurant for Labor Day weekend, but will re-open on Monday, September 2.

Alongside Tan’s statement is one from Tomas J. Aragon, a San Francisco Health Officer. In it, he wrote “Based on our current investigation, our preliminary conclusion is that there is no ongoing risk to the public’s health”. He also said the restaurant will remain open.

According to Aragon’s statement, the strain of E. coli found in those who became sick was E. coli O157, which can cause severe illness, abdominal cramps and diarrhea. E. coli, formally known as Escherichia coli, is typically transmitted through contaminated water or food, or through contact with animals or persons (Center for Disease Control).

Burma Superstar has two other locations in the Bay Area – Oakland and Alameda – and owner Desmond Tan also owns and operates two other restaurants just down the block on Clement Street – B Star Cafe and Eats.

Sarah B.

A passerby stops to read the E. coli notice posted on the windows of Burma Superstar

1:31 pm | Posted under Business, Food, Health | 14 comments

Cassava Bakery taps the community to fund a new outdoor patio

It’s been just over a year since Cassava Bakery opened on Balboa near 36th Avenue, but the small cafe, owned by married couple Yuka Ioroi and Kristoffer Toliao, has already expanded.

The cafe has been popular since it opened, offering up a unique Japanese breakfast, tasty cafe bites from chef Kris, great coffee, and pop-up dinners on Friday nights with gourmet menus.

But the real reason it’s popular is its atmosphere and neighborhood feel. Yuka and Kris know their customers, and make them feel at home and comfortable. I remember stopping in early on and having to sit outside because their few inside tables were full. Yuka came out with warm blankets to put on us to weather the Richmond fog.

Earlier this month, “Cassava 2.0″ re-opened after completing construction to expand into the space next door.

That expansion, coupled with a larger restaurant menu and future bar service, is inching Cassava closer to the vision Yuka and Kris have of bringing the Parisian cafe experience to the outer Richmond District. A place where neighbors can come together, enjoy good food and drink, discuss the issues of the day, or just relax.

To keep going, Cassava is turning to the community via Kickstarter for help with bringing their next vision to life: an outdoor patio featuring an edible garden that chef Kris can cook with.

It’s not the first time a local business has turned to its supporters for financial help. In Late 2011, the Bazaar Cafe on California Street revealed that they were struggling financially, and would have to close. Customers and community members stepped up and donated $20,000 to keep the cafe in business.

Check out Cassava’s video above, and if you’d like to contribute to their vision, visit their Kickstarter page. As with most Kickstarter projects, different levels of contribution to Cassava’s project comes with a bonus like an e-book of Chef Kris’ favorite recipes, invitation to a private thank you party, 3-course meals prepared by Chef Kris, and even a 1 on 1 cooking lesson.

Every Kickstarter contribution is a pledge – if Cassava doesn’t make their goal, no one contributes. Their goal is to raise $20,000 by August 2, and they’re over halfway there.

Good luck Cassava!

Sarah B.

1:50 pm | Posted under Business, Food | 13 comments

Ro Cafe brings Turkish coffee, baklava and other Kurdish delights to 5th & Calif.

Owner Havin Gavgasi stands outside Ro Cafe on 5th & California

Tucked on the southwest corner of 5th and California is the new Ro Cafe, a Kurdish cafe that has been open for just over a month.

Owner Havin Gavgasi, who came to the U.S. four years ago from Kurdistan, took over the lease from the previous cafe. She worked in cafes previously in her career and said she’s always wanted to open her own place.

Ro Cafe serves Graffeo Coffee from North Beach, and offers a Turkish version for those who like a good punch in their cup. The menu features many traditional Kurdish dishes including Kurdish Baklava and Kurdish flatbread, which Gavgasi says is a favorite.

She prepares the flatbread fresh when you order, rolling out the dough and preparing it on a hot flat grill, similar to a crepe cooker. But the final result is a thicker bread, like a thin pizza crust.

The Kurdish Flatbread Panini ($7.25) on the menu is a mix of feta cheese, chopped Italian parsley, and cooked onion placed between two thin layers of fresh dough and baked on the hot grill. It’s served with a side of sliced tomatoes and homemade sauce. You can add chicken to it for an additional $2.

The Kurdish style couscous is another item that Gavgasi says usually surprises people because it’s a little different than other couscous they’ve had before. Her recipe combines couscous with mixed tomato paste, parsley, green onion with Kurdish spices, served with fresh tomatoes and lemon on the side. She says several customers have been happily surprised with her version, and have come back into the cafe to order it again.

The menu also includes a few other sandwiches including a Veggie Sandwich ($5.25), a Chicken Breast Wrap served on Middle Eastern Pita Pita Bread ($6.95), and a Feta Beef Roll, which is oven baked.

If you’re stopping by in the morning, order a Corek (pronounced Chorek), a traditional Kurdish breakfast pastry. One variety has pesto and cheese inside. The cafe also offers a Kurdish Veggie Omelet with a side of ciabatta bread toast.

We tried the baklava while we were there and it was delicious – light, very flaky and sweet. You get two small slices (egg roll size) for $3.25. The other dessert on the menu is Kurdish pudding, served cold.

Gavgasi called her new business Ro Cafe because Ro means “river” in her language, and her native Kurdistan is criss-crossed with them. Cafes in her home country make tea and coffee with water from the rivers, and believe its clean properties make the beverages taste better.

“And Ro is easy to say,” Gavgasi said, laughing. “I also really like the neighbors – they are friendly and come shop here to support my business.”

While we were there, local resident Patricia was enjoying the free Wifi, and eagerly awaiting her flatbread. She lives on Geary and 2nd, and said she escapes to Ro Cafe for good food, as well as some peace and quiet.

Ro Cafe is located at 195 5th Avenue on the corner of California, and is open from 7am until 7pm every day. Stop in to try some Kurdish delights and welcome them to the neighborhood!

Sarah B.

The baklava pastry was very tasty!

5:25 am | Posted under Business, Food | 5 comments

Bizness: Poppy coats, Foggy online, Murasaki closing, My Thai opens & more

Poppy von Frohlich owner Trudy (R) poses with Seedstore owner Cynthia Huie
in her “Lumber Jane” coat

Just like a hyperlocal Wall Street ticker, here are some updates on a few neighborhood businesses. Have a good Tuesday! – Sarah B.

  • We got word on a new cottage business here in the neighborhood called Poppy von Frohlich, specializing in outerwear for women. Owner Trudy tells us, “I design and pattern and sample sew everything in my outer richmond home and then all of my manufacturing is done in down town SF.” She comes out with a new design every 6 weeks and produces a limited amount of each design, offering free fittings and alterations to her local customers at her in-house studio. Check out her designs online at PoppyvonFrohlich.com or stop in Seedstore (212 Clement) to check out some of her designs.
  • Foggy Notion Boutique on 6th Avenue was selected as one of the first businesses to be in Square’s new marketplace, Square Market. So when you can’t make it into the store, or want to show off a cool neighborhood store to your out of town friends and fam, point them here.
  • Some sad news from inner Clement: The owner of Murasaki Sushi (211 Clement), Toshi Sasaki, passed away earlier this month. The restaurant had been closed for a few weeks with a sign saying that the owner was sick. Cynthis Huie of Seedstore wrote to us and said, “He was an amazing sushi chef, who kept my family and I well fed and a really nice man.” Sasaki was born in Hokknido, Japan, and was in the restaurant business for 28 years.
  • A drive down Geary on Monday night reminded us that we never posted about a new doggy boutique and grooming business, Top Dog Boutique Grooming, open at 5050 Geary and 15th Avenue (looks like it used to be Hollywood Dog Grooming in Laurel Heights?). Bring Fido by for a Bath & Brush ($45), and extra $10 gets his teeth brushed too (lots of other services too). The shop also sells premium natural dog food and natural shampoos.
  • We’re a little late with this news but a new restaurant, My Thai has opened up at 908 Clement. Previously it was Zaab Thai Cuisine so we’re not sure if this is a re-branding or new ownership altogether. Their awning promises “Authentic Thai Food & American Breakfast”.

My Thai restaurant at 908 Clement

5:13 am | Posted under Business, Food | 2 comments

Balboa Food News: Shanghai Dumpling re-opens, Hockey Haven does BBQ, Cassava almost ready to re-open, new Marla Bakery in 2014

Artists HsiaoChi Chang and Alex Lee stand in front of their chalkboard mural of Balboa Street inside Cassava Bakery

Lots of food tidbits to report on for outer Balboa this week!

Shanghai Dumpling (3319 Balboa) closed a few months ago for renovations, but reader Steve tells us it is finally back open for business. So if you’ve been jonesing for their dumplings, General Tso chicken or sugar egg puffs, get out there.

I am carnivore, hear me roar… We got a note from Erin at Hockey Haven (3625 Balboa) who tells us that they’ve teamed up with The Boneyard Truck (BBQ), who will be serving from the HH kitchen on Friday and Saturday nights from 6pm until 10pm, and serving Sunday brunch from 11am until 3pm. “Our meats are smoked and roasted to succulent perfection every day. Paired with fresh homemade breads and seasonal side dishes, we create exciting flavor combinations that are sure to awaken your inner carnivore.” Brisket chili nachos, anyone? Erin says Boneyard will also take over the Monday Night Football steak dinners starting in August.

The much beloved Cassava Bakery (3519 Balboa) closed a couple of months ago so they could expand into the space next door. We stopped by last Saturday for a sneak peek and it’s nearly done. They hoped to open this week but next week is more likely. In addition to having a beer and wine license, the “new & improved” Cassava will have seating for roughly 25 inside and 20 outside, an expanded menu, and plans to serve their popular Japanese breakfast every day of the week. They will also continue to offer pop-up dinners on Friday and Saturday nights. Follow them on Facebook for the latest updates.

Speaking of pop-ups – one has decided to commit and settle down on Balboa Street. Tablehopper reports that Marla Bakery plans to open in the former Crown Lock space (3619-21 Balboa). “They will be open for breakfast and lunch daily, plus Sunday suppers, and eventually dinner too (the space will initially be used for pop-up dinners and cooking classes in the evenings). You can also come by to just pick up bread and pastries.” Targeting a Spring 2014 opening.

Bon Appétit Balboa!

Sarah B.

5:01 am | Posted under Business, Food | 2 comments

Heartbaker brings pastries, savory bites to outer Clement Street

Heartbaker owner Sybil Johnson with her father, Mark

This past weekend marked the opening for Heartbaker, a new cafe / bakery located at 1408 Clement near 15th Avenue. The cafe received some early buzz on local food blogs last Friday, and when we stopped in on Sunday afternoon, the place was already hopping with new customers.

Heartbaker is the lovechild of pastry chef Sybil Johnson, who is returning to the retail food business after taking some years off to be a Mom. Johnson had past stints as a pastry chef at some high-end San Francisco eateries, including Aqua, the Fairmont Hotel and Kokkari. But after not finding work right away, she ultimately decided she’d rather open her own place and work for herself.

She says she went back and forth between wanting to open a full-scale restaurant or just a bakery. Heartbaker is a nice blend of both – an assortment of pastries, small sandwiches, quiches, cupcakes and cookies – that will satisfy a wide range of palettes and appetites. And it’s a comfortable space where you’ll want to spend some time and have a nice meal.

Heartbaker is still awaiting their beer and wine license, but Johnson expects it to be approved within the next couple of weeks. Once it is, she’ll add more savory items to the menu, and stay open into the evenings for dinner fare.

The space at 1408 Clement has been empty since Chapeau! vacated it in mid-2009 and moved to the second block of Clement. In February, we saw the first Heartbaker sign on the door that promised “Coming Soon!”.

Fast forward a few months and Johnson was still tied up in city red tape trying to open. They kept neighbors updated with letters on the door that promised they were still working on things. Johnson’s father, Mike Johnson, who is a partner in Heartbaker, said it was a challenging journey to get to opening day.

But they made it and the neighborhood is happy to have them. The space looks great inside. Cool grey walls and a white, marble top counter make it feel warm, cozy and fresh. There is table seating for about twenty, and a few chairs at the counter.

Heartbaker definitely wins for some of the most unusual photos we’ve ever seen at a cafe or bakery. Large portraits of the Heartbaker staff hang on the walls, each of them wearing baked goods “masks”. One has a a faceful of chocolate chip cookies, another covered in puff pastries.

The cafe is on the north side of the street and gets great mid-day and afternoon sun. They’ll be adding outdoor seating soon, but in the meantime patrons can sit on two stone benches out front that are holdovers from the Chapeau! days. There is also a large back patio on the property, but they’re unsure if they will open that up for seating.

One of the best parts of Heartbaker opening for Johnson? Her short commute to work. She lives just a few blocks away with her husband and two sons, all of whom were in the cafe when we stopped by. The boys were reading on bean bag chairs back near the kitchen (“They’ve already found their space,” Johnson said), and her husband was working behind the counter.

Heartbaker is open Tuesday through Sunday from 7am until 5pm (closed Mondays). In a few weeks, they’ll add additional evening hours, staying open until 9pm on Tuesday, Wednesday and Sundays, and until 11pm on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.

Stop in and welcome them to the neighborhood!

Sarah B.

5:06 am | Posted under Business, Food | 11 comments

Free workshop on sourdough bread making at Anza Library, June 19

We are a city known for our sourdough bread, but most of us buy it at the market, or even better, fresh from the ovens at the Boudin Bakery on 10th Avenue.

But if you’re more of a DIY’er when it comes to breads, you might want to check out the Sourdough Starter Workshop at the Anza Branch Library on Wednesday June 19 at 6pm.

Cat Shimizu, the “breaducator” from Sour Flour, will talk about the art and science of making bread using a sourdough starter.

This includes how to feed and take care of your own starter, and how different factors such as time, temperature, and starter hydration affect the fermentation process. They will also provide samples and suggested reading that will help get you started on a new adventure in sourdough bread baking.

The workshop is free, and takes place at the Anza Branch Libary located at 550 37th Avenue, between Anza and Geary.

Sarah B.

5:21 am | Posted under Classes, Food | 1 comment