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NEWS: Reservations now available for SF Restaurant Week opening and closing dinners

San Francisco, CA – Reservations are now open for Eat Drink SF’s opening and closing dinners for SF Restaurant Week at The Vault Garden, Oct. 23, and at EPIC Steak on Nov. 1. Menus and pricing details are below. 

Opening dinner: A Taste of San Francisco Friday, Oct. 23, 5 to 8 p.m. The Vault Garden, San FranciscoThis socially distanced outdoor dinner features a collaborative multi-course experience designed by all-star chefs Robin Song of The Vault Garden, Jason Halverson of Hi Neighbor Group, Staffan Terje of Perbacco and barbacco, Reem Assil of Reem’s California, Belinda Leong of B. Patisserie and Routier and Angela Pinkerton of Pie Society and Pinkerton Confectionery. This one-night-only meal includes a welcome beverage and two desserts. $175, including all taxes, fees and gratuity. Tickets on OpenTable [View the menu here]

Closing dinner: A Waterfront Surf and Turf Experience from Waterbar and EPIC Steak: A Night of Gratitude Sunday, Nov. 1, 4 to 8 p.m. EPIC Steak, San FranciscoIconic San Francisco Bay views and live music from The Henry Coopers accompany a welcome cocktail and a sumptuous five-course surf and turf menu from the culinary teams at EPIC and Waterbar, led by acclaimed Executive Chef Parke Ulrich. Courses include Maine Lobster Beggar’s Purse, Venison Carpaccio & Crispy Oysters, Roasted Bone Marrow and Dungeness Crab Gratin, Classic Beef Wellington & Smoked Uni and Fall Apple Galette. Specialty cocktails featuring Maker’s Mark and Sipsmith Gin will also be offered.$127, including all taxes, fees and gratuity. Tickets on OpenTable.

Virtual events with ChefsFeed Eat Drink SF 2020 is coming to your home thanks to ChefsFeed. The line-up will include Kim Alter of Nightbird, Simileoluwa Adebajo of Eko Kitchen, Samir Mogannam of Beit Rima and Rebecca Pinnell, formerly of Bon Voyage! Details coming soon.

Find more information visit them online at sfrestaurantweek.com.

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NEWS: Golden Gate Restaurant Association creates new dining program for 2020

The Golden Gate Restaurant Association in San Francisco is announcing a new dining program to support the local restaurant program which has been struggling due to COVID-19. The dining program is called: “Eat Drink SF Presents: 10 Days of Dining, Culture, and Community”.

The program will begin with an opening dinner on Friday October 23rd and run through Sunday November 1st.

The itinerary will explore neighborhoods throughout San Francisco with a focus on outdoor dining, Restaurant Week-style prix fixe menus., exclusive to-go options, virtual demos and forums as well as ticketed outdoor seated dinners, while keeping a focus on the current SF Department of Public Health guidelines.

Eat Drink SF has been around since 2009 and was created to celebrate the SF Bay Area restaurant community as a “world-class culinary destination”. This year proceeds will go entirely to participating restaurants, chefs and bartenders without an additional charitable partner involved.

The first event will be at The Vault Garden in San Francisco on October 23rd from 5:30PM to 8:30PM (reservations soon to come). The final event will be at EPIC Steak in San Francisco on November 1st from 5PM to 8PM.

The Golden Gate Restaurant Association has existed since 1936 with a mission to “celebrate and empower the restaurant community through advocacy, education, marketing, events, and training”. It is a San Francisco-based membership organization comprised of restaurant members of all sizes and profiles.

For more information visit them online at eatdrink-sf.com.

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Nigerian concept Eko Kitchen and Catering coming to San Francisco May 2019

Sometimes good things happen on Twitter. Twitter user and future restaurateur Simileoluwa Adebajo shared her plans to make a Nigerian restaurant in San Francisco this past Friday on the social media platform and went viral across the internet.

Nigeria is home to hundreds of ethnic groups and nearly 200 million people, but restaurants are far and few between and she hopes to change that.

The name of the restaurant will be Eko Kitchen and it is currently having pop-ups around the city and offering delivery service with plans for an opening on Friday, May 3rd, 2019 at Joint Venture Kitchen -167 11th Street, San Francisco, California.

The restaurant will offer service Friday evening through Sundays and handle catering on weekdays from Monday to Wednesday.

Joint Venture Kitchen is a fully-equipped restaurant space in SoMA that also serves as home to bay area pop-ups in San Francisco. It is the hub of Eko Kitchen.

Simileoluwa Adebajo shares, “Nigerian food is soulful, spicy, and full of life, much like Nigerian people. I started Eko Kitchen because I missed home and wanted to share Nigerian culture with the world through our food.”

Adebajo does not have a formal background in kitchens or restaurants, but has been offering delivery on UberEATs and Postmates since July of 2018 and only recently added pop-ups, cooking classes, and catering to her business. She credits her mother and 2 grandmothers for the things she has learned about cooking as well as the internet.

Delivery is currently being offered on UberEATs and Postmates with items such as Moin Moin, Ofada Stew, Nigerian Style Fried Rice, Honey Glazed Jolloff Wings, and more.

For more information, visit Eko Kitchen and Catering online at http://ekokitchensf.wixsite.com/nomnom/menu.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ekokitchensf/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ekokitchensf/

More stories about Nigerian food:

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NEW: Foodie app lets diners review restaurant dishes, build collections

“What’s your favorite dish on the menu?” is probably one of the questions most asked by diners at restaurants to servers. Usually you’ll receive anywhere from an honest answer to a made-up promotional line that has been passed from management to server to encourage you to order something not commonly ordered or expensive.

Entire articles and publications are based around this simple question that many of us are constantly wondering about.

A new app called Foodie seeks to change that and provide a new tool for diners.

“You can’t just eat good food. You’ve got to talk about it too. And you’ve got to talk about it to somebody who understands that kind of food.” –Kurt Vonnegut, Jailbird

The focus of Foodie is to help recommend top menu items to diners. Menu items are ranked in order of popularity with reviews and photos from users. Users can also build lists or collections to help diners find ideal restaurants for specific kinds of food.

As someone who personally spends 20-30 minutes trying to decide what to order (I’m extremely indecisive), Foodie can be a useful way to quickly navigate a new restaurant experience or discover what others are ordering.

The idea for Foodie came when Founder, Vaibhav Verma, wondered himself what to eat at restaurants in Chicago and realized how difficult it is to find that information on popular apps like Yelp or Tripadvisor. He decided to build an app to make it easier and help diners order the best dish on the menu.

Foodie has fully launched in San Francisco and Chicago and is now having events around the city including at numerous bubble tea shops around the city with plans for future expansion in other cities around the country.

Popular restaurants and cafes such as Kitchen Story and Boba Guys can be found on the app.

Using Foodie is as simple as pulling up a business and looking at the list of top dishes to help you decide what to order. Foodie currently has 198,000 ratings, 3,281 restaurants, and 256,000 dishes listed inside the app with more on the way.

The usefulness of the app will depend on how this growth occurs for diners, a simple request button can help put add restaurants into the app with a reasonable time frame.

Foodie is not the first app to provide to provide a focus on dishes, but the focus on quality of dishes is different from prior ideas such as Foodspotting (now owned by OpenTable) and Instagram which primarily feature images with sometimes little to no information about how good a dish actually is.

An intuitive search feature allows you to search for a specific type of menu item or dish and find reviews about it. Currently the app is growing its user-base, therefore this is certainly a feature that will become more useful as more users adopt the app and begin plugging in reviews, but the feature has plenty of potential.

Foodie can also work as a food journal or diary where you can keep track of what you’re eating, save that your profile, and follow what other people are eating. Reviews are shorter thanks to the focus around specific dishes instead of a full restaurant review, making it simpler to keep track of and easy to dive into other reviewers thoughts.

Foodie is available for free on the Apple App Store and Google Play.

On the restaurant business side, Foodie is providing analytics of restaurant reviews and analysis of why restaurants are receiving reviews of certain dishes. Those analytics reports are currently available free of charge for interested restaurants as they get the app running.

For more information about Foodie visit them online at thefoodieapp.com.

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The Great San Francisco Corn Dog Festival this Saturday 3/9

Is there anything more American than enjoying a corn dog with beer? This Saturday is The Great San Francisco Corn Dog Festival is this Saturday, March 9th, 2019 from 11AM-5PM. The event is organized by SoMA StrEat Food Park (428 11th Street San Francisco, CA 94103) and FunCheapSF.

Vendors will fry, dip, sauce, and serve specialty corn dogs all day long.

The history of corn dogs in the United States dates back to at least the 1920s. National Corn Dog Day is actually in March and is happening on March 23, 2019 for those of you who need a double dip. 

There will be a Corn Dog Decorating Contest by Sticks and a Corn Dog Eating Contest held by Batter Up. This is your time to shine if eating corn dogs is something you excel at. Those who dress up in a corn dog costume may win special prizes so get creative.

Tickets are now available, including a special addition that will allow for unlimited beer pours. General Admission is just $5 pre-sale.

Waffle Dog from Fil Gud.
Longanisa Corn Dog from The Sarap Shop.

On the menu:

  • Sticks — classic gourmet beef corn dog | Louisiana hot link corn dog
  • Batter Up — Madbum corn dog : 1/3 hot link, 1/3 mozzarella cheese, 1/3 chicken apple | chili cheese corn dog
  • Cochinita — elote dog: corn dog topped with Mexican street corn off the cob (corn, mayo crema mix, cotija cheese, cilantro, chile, and lime | Mission dog: bacon-wrapped corn dog topped w/ ketchup, mustard, and grilled
  • I Love Cheesesteak — cheesy bacon dog: corn dog topped w/ nacho cheese + diced bacon | chile cheese corn dog: corn dog topped w/ home-made chile, nacho cheese, and diced onions
  • Fil Gud — waffle dog | waffle dog + ice cream | lumpia hot dog + fries | mini corn dogs
  • Nava Sausage Co. — Frankfurt corn dog | hot spicy Polish corn dog | smoked Polish corn dog
  • Nombe SF — Kimchi-battered corn dog | tofu kimchi-battered corn dog
  • Firetrail Pizza — hot dog cheese pizza
  • Chef’s Truck — chili cheese corn dog | classic corn dog | honey-sweetened beef corn dog | mini corn dog bites | cheese-dipped corn dog
  • Kokio Republic — hot and sweet corn dog
  • Gyros on Wheels — corn dog with french fries | cheese rolls w/ sausage + cheese
  • Nucha Empanadas — mini corn dogs with chimichurri sauce
  • Street Meet — bacon-wrapped corn dog
  • The Sarap Shop — longanisa corn dog | vegan corn dog nachos

Event Name: San Francisco Corn Dog Festival

Venue: SoMA StrEat Food Park

Address: 28 11th Street San Francisco, CA 94103

Date & Time: Saturday, March 9th, 2019, 11AM-5PM

Cost: $5 entry

Buy tickets: http://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-great-san-francisco-corn-dog-festival-tickets-55548193141

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Monthly Filipino-inspired Taco Tuesday with Eats by E in Berkeley March 5th

Looking for a different kind of Taco Tuesday? Eats by E Chef Eric Pascual is hosting his monthly Filipino Taco Tuesday pop-up on March 5th, 2019. The event is happening at 2940 Seventh Street Berkeley, California 94710 with Feastly from 7PM to 8:30PM and tickets are now available.

Chef Pascual has hosted Feastly pop-up dinners for the last few years. He recently did a round of funding for his new spot in Berkeley. Feastly seeks to help connect passionate chefs to diners by offering chefs a platform to host private dinners.

Yours truly at an Eats by E dinner a few years ago. Delicious.

Chef Pascual is an active member of the Filipino community in the San Francisco Bay Area and hosts a number of Filipino-themed dinners and kamayans regularly mixed with Hawaiian and Peruvian influences from his upbringing.

Eats by E holds a 5-star rating on Feastly with nearly 3,500 reviews.

On the menu:

  • Vegetable Lumpia – Filipino-style egg roll with diced vegetables. Served with a spiced vinegar dipping sauce.
  • Salad – Mix greens, red cabbage, cherry tomatoes, radishes. Calamansi vinaigrette. Coconut/garlic croutons.
  • Braised Beef Taco – Beef slow-cooked in garlic, calamansi, Tamari, lemongrass, ginger, Roli Roti beef bone broth, and spices with a roasted tomato salsa diced onions, and cilantro on a corn tortilla.
  • Chicken Adobo Taco – Chicken stewed in vinegar, Tamari (gluten-free) soy sauce, garlic, bay leaves, black peppercorns. Topped with a roasted tomato salsa, diced onions, and cilantro on a corn tortilla.
  • Veggie Taco – Roasted Mushrooms, caramelized onions, garlic, peppers with a roasted tomato salsa, diced onions, and cilantro on a corn tortilla.
  • Shrimp and Avocado Poke Taco – Poached shrimp, avocado, sesame, Tamari, Adoboloco Hawaiian chili pepper sauce. Topped with a roasted tomato salsa, diced onions, cilantro on a corn tortilla.
  • Bibingka Churro Donuts – Fried pastry made with rice flour and coconut milk. Coated with cinnamon and sugar.

Tickets cost $35 and can be bought online: http://eatfeastly.com/meals/d/191615028/a-filipino-inspired-taco-tuesday-4/

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Lack of seasoning at Cilantro SF Taqueria

Have you ever felt a powerful craving for a burrito taking you over? That was me a few weeks ago. I didn’t know when and I didn’t know how, but I knew I needed to eat a burrito.

Just the thought of a burrito in front of me was bringing a goofy smile to my face. I could practically taste it on the tip of my tongue. Food cravings are like that.

Finding a good Super Burrito in San Francisco can be a difficult venture when you are not able to visit the hotspots most people frequent, such as El Farolito or La Taqueria in the Mission District, and when you find yourself without cash or a bank close by.

I randomly ended up at Cilantro SF Taqueria near Fisherman’s Wharf after the Women’s March and decided to give it a try. The prices are fairly standard for San Francisco and will run you about $9.99 for a Super Burrito made with carne asada steak prepared all the way. Tortilla chips are complementary and there is a salsa bar for all diners to enjoy. Debit and credit cards are accepted.

Initially, I was excited to see the salsa bar and ran over to grab some picante, salsa, and tomatillo sauce and a generous supply of salt for my chips. I ran over to my seat and began to dunk my tortilla chips into the sauces. Although the sauces had a wonderful hue to them, the actual flavor of the sauces was pretty bland and left me wishing for more spices and flavorings. It was a bit of a tease.

The super burrito then arrived at my table inside its signature aluminum foil wrapper. I peeled the aluminum back and took my first bite. The carne asada steak was diced into small pieces that became messy and spread all my over my table, some pieces falling below me on the floor, which I’ll admit was slightly embarrassing. I took a giant bite and munched on my food, the flavors were mostly there that one expects inside their Super Burrito, but something was missing.

The carne asada steak was cooked, but not charred how I like it. The quality of the steak was forgettable and the seasoning was not up to par. The pinto beans and rice as well as the sour cream, guacamole, and other ingredients, however, were all good. I devoured the burrito out of hunger, but felt like I could’ve probably had a better experience elsewhere in San Francisco.

It was ironic that a place called Cilantro did not have spices that were memorable.

The location of Cilantro certainly makes it competitive, especially since El Farolito nearby closes in the early afternoon on weekdays and weekends and most restaurants nearby are tourist traps. They also accept credit cards which makes it a more attractive option for travelers who may not be carrying cash like local do when frequenting restaurants.

The staff at Cilantro is also incredibly friendly and hospitable which can be a little difficult to find in Mexican dive restaurants that are often too busy to actually provide service to customers. The environment at Cilantro was relaxed and casual, the mobs of foodies are nowhere to be found at this dining spot. There was ample seating inside.

Overall, Cilantro has a few thing going for it but simply cannot compete with the household names that have made San Francisco famous for Super Burritos and continue to please the taste buds of hungry diners well into the wee hours of the morning and the shortfall ironically comes down to seasonings.

Restaurant Name: Cilantro SF Taqueria

Cuisine: Mexican

Neighborhood: North Beach

Address: 2257 Mason Street, San Francisco, CA 94133

Phone Number: (415) 655-9948

Cost: $$

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Are the prices at San Francisco’s Jijime too good to be true?

I was in the Richmond District today and was looking for a bite to eat. A friend recommended Jijime to me. Jijime is a Korean restaurant that can also be described as Asian fusion since they also serve ramen and various Japanese dishes and appetizers.

I was thinking about ordering the Katsudon, a long-time favorite dish for me that I scoped out before my visit, but the waitress informed me quickly after seating that it was not available. The seafood pancake was also not available and clearly whited out on the menu. No matter – I decided I would move instead towards the bulgogi bowl ($12.95) and the okonomiyaki fries ($6).

Okonomiyaki Fries at Jijime restaurant in San Francisco's Outer Richmond area.

Okonomiyaki fries have become popular nationwide as a starter in Japanese pubs and trendy spots, but usually are underwhelming. That was not the case at Jijime. The fries were actually the best part.

Crispy and perfectly cooked, the texture and cut was similar to a McDonald’s french fry (recently named #1 by LA Times Food) with kewpie and katsu sauce mixed together. Yum. I was in love with these fries and devoured every last bite. The bonito flakes on top was a nice touch. I would order this again for sure, maybe with some other appetizers.

Bulgogi Bowl at Jijime in San Francisco.

Now the bulgogi. The bulgogi at Jijime was the disappointing part of my meal. It took quite some time to come out and when it finally did the actual serving of bulgogi meat seemed small and fluffed up by a huge amount of plain salad and white rice with noodles attached to the beef. The plating of it made it look even worse with large pieces of green lettuce covering most of the bowl (I actually pulled some out for my photo so it would show up in the shot).

The marinade for the bulgogi was sugary sweet and stomach acid reflux inducing. Restaurants that are catering to American sweet tooths will normally do this, but I don’t feel like it has become as common these days and especially not at an independent Korean restaurant. The actual cut of meat was fairly cheap and tasted like every bulgogi I’ve ever had at an All-You-Can-Eat Korean BBQ restaurant (which I intentionally don’t order to avoid it), except this portion was not unlimited.

Of course – the price for the bulgogi at Jijime is affordable at just $12.95 so I can understand that you can’t expect a great cut of meat for that price point, but to be honest I would rather be charged more and have a better cut of meat ($16-21 is standard in Florida) and actually like the meat than to pay less and be disappointed.

There were a number of things I wanted to try on the menu at Jijime and the ambiance of the restaurant is very welcoming and perfect for catching up with friends or a date.

Service was satisfactory, although I did find it a little odd that my waitress did not know what samgyeopsal is when I was asking about their pork belly dish and the taste of it. Her inability to explain the dish made me shy away from it.

Jijime also seems to be a nice spot to have a drink so that may be something to explore in the future. For now, I’ll just say that the okonomiyaki fries are excellent and that the bulgogi is completely disappointing and I will not order it again. I’ve had better bulgogi at restaurant chains and corporate concepts which is sad, but true. As the old saying goes: “you get what you pay for”.

Restaurant Name: Jijime

Cuisine: Korean, Japanese, Asian Fusion

Neighborhood: Outer Richmond

Address: 5524 Geary Blvd., San Francisco, CA 94121

Phone Number: (415) 221-5353

Cost: $$

Website: http://www.jijime.com

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Memories at Isobune Sushi in San Francisco’s Japantown

I was in Japantown this past week and noticed that Isobune Sushi is now closed and has been for some time. It was the first restaurant I tried sushi as a five-year-old kid in 1994 and I have been hooked ever since.

Isobune was filled with memories and I always loved the sushi boat concept and how you could see the sushi chef preparing the sushi right in front of your eyes. It is the first restaurant where I tried Unagi or BBQ Eel. Isobune was also the first restaurant where I became accustomed to having a hot towel or oshibori given to clean my hands before a meal.

One of the best parts of visiting Isobune Sushi was stacking your plates at the end with a sense of accomplishment before the bill arrived.

The last time I was at the mall a year or two back, it was obvious that the more modern conveyor belt sushi was taking over as a concept and seemed to be providing cheaper overall pricing.

The intimate lighting was also a great part of the ambiance that Isobune that was welcoming and left you with a nice feeling of joy when you visited with someone special. Isobune Sushi was one of the first conveyor belt sushi concepts in the nation and operated in San Francisco’s Japantown for 38 years.

When I visited Isobune Sushi back in 2006, the original waitress that had served me as a kid was amazingly still working there. I am sure many people in San Francisco and Burlingame have memories of Isobune Sushi. Times are changing as new food concepts emerge and rising rent in San Francisco is making it more difficult for restaurants to thrive.

Farewell Isobune Sushi.

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Vietnamese Coffee Pop-up: Kasama Cà Phê coming to SF

Filipino and Vietnamese culture is colliding with a Vietnamese coffee pop-up from Kasama Cà Phê coming to San Francisco starting on Sunday, February 17th at MAC’D (2127 Polk St.) and The Brew Coop (819 Valencia St.). The pop-up will also appear on Sunday, March 24th and Sunday, April 28th at the same locations.

Kasama is a reference to companionship or togetherness in Filipino culture and cà phê means coffee in Vietnamese.

The menu will consist of strong cà phê sữa đá (Vietnamese iced coffee) and ube affogatos (Philippine purple yam ice cream topped with Vietnamese coffee).

Photos via kasamacaphe.com

Vietnamese coffee background

Vietnamese coffee dates back to the 19th century when French colonialists introduced coffee to the country according to BBC News. Most Vietnamese coffee is actually exported today rather than consumed in Vietnam itself and Vietnam was ranked 2nd in the world in 2017 for coffee exports behind Brazil. Recent reports suggest a rise in both the quality and quantity of Vietnamese coffee.

Vietnam is a major producer of Robusta coffee which has more caffeine and has a much more bitter flavor than the commonly-known and used Arabica beans. Robusta makes up at least 79% of Vietnamese coffee production according to the General Department of Vietnam Customs in 2016.

Robusta can be described as earthy, harsh, or grainy. Most consumers of Vietnamese coffee will add condensed milk to sweeten it from its bitter taste. Vietnamese coffee is something you’ll want to ease into if you’re not used to high caffeine coffee.

About the people behind Kasama Cà Phê

The owners of Kasama Cà Phê are first-generation Asian-Americans and are sourcing their coffee beans from Vietnam with a plan to offer coffee from the Philippines, Indonesia, and Thailand in the future and a plan to focus on brewing techniques from Southeast Asia.

Most people probably consume Vietnamese coffee at Vietnamese restaurants or at home at the moment, it will be interesting to see how Kasama Cà Phê differentiates themselves to make it a worthwhile experience.

Find out more about Kasama Cà Phê at kasamacaphe.com