Two New Japanese Restaurants Planned for Bernal Heights

Teaser sign in the window at 433 Precita

Sugoi! Bernalwood has learned that two new Japanese restaurants are (hopefully) coming to Bernal Heights; one is planned for Mission Street and the other will bring sushi and sashimi to Precita Park.

Let’s start in La Lengua, where the burgeoning Nano Tokyo District around the intersection of Mission and 29th Street is set to grow a little bigger with the addition of RakiRaki at 3282 Mission Street, in the space formerly occupied by Neighbor Tim and Erin’s Ichi Sushi + Ni Bar.

RakiRaki Ramen is a Japanese restaurant with two locations in San Diego. A power-call to RakiRaki’s power-lawyer yesterday confirmed their intention to open a branch here in Bernal.  Their website says:

Rakiraki Ramen & Tsukemen opened its doors in October of 2012 to it’s first location in the heart of Kearny Mesa in San Diego, California. Now with a second location in San Diego’s Little Italy, Rakiraki specializes in serving authentic Japanese cuisine including curry, tsukemen, or dipping noodles, and specialty sushi rolls, but is best known for its great-tasting ramen.

Interesting! The original RakiRaki outlet in San Diego has a four-star rating on the Yelps, where people speak highly of the “tonkotsu black edition” ramen made with fermented garlic oil.

Of course, this means RakiRaki will be located right across the street from the satisfyingly authentic Fumi Curry and the surprisingly impressive Coco’s Ramen, so we may soon have an even more robust Japanese street-food cluster happening on the west side of our Bernal territories. Ganbatte and lucky us.

Meanwhile, at the east end of Precita Park, a “modern Japanese” restaurant hopes to open at 433 Precita, in the space formerly occupied by the organic pet food shop.  A quick call to the proprietor revealed an effort is now underway to convert the retail space for restaurant use, although the restaurant does not plan to have an exhaust hood or grill. Bernalwood is told sushi and sashimi with anchor the menu. A name for the restaurant has not yet been selected.

(Sidebar: Don’t be misled by the fact that the little red lantern shown in the photo at the top of this post says “yakitori.” Absent an exhaust system, the restaurant’s proprietor confirmed they don’t plan to serve Japanese grilled chicken skewers, which is a bot of a shame, because proper, low-key yakitori is very hard to find in San Francisco and Precita Park would be a lovely place for it. Oh well.)

Anyway, sushi would be a great addition to the Precita Park food mix, and even more so because the proposed Red Apron Pizza at the east end of the park is stalled because of an ongoing dispute with the property owner.

Neither the sushi place in Precita Park nor RakiRaki has planned opening dates yet; both establishments were reluctant to set a target given the fickle nature of San Francisco’s labyrinthine bureaucracy and permitting process.

Itadakimasu!

 

Special thanks for Jessica Park at Hoodline for reporting assistance on this article.

PHOTO: Teaser sign posted in the window of 433 Precita, courtesy of Neighbor Brandon.

New Pinball Center Coming to Cortland Avenue

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A few neighbors have written Bernalwood about the alcoholic beverage permit notice posted in the window at 1000 Cortland Avenue (at Folsom), at the former Cutting Edge Salon space. The notice says the space is slated to become the Skillshot Pinball and Bar. Pinball has been enjoying an enthusiast renaissance in recent years, so Bernalwood reached out to the Skillshot team to learn more about their plans.

Turns out, Skillshot is the brainchild of Bernal Neighbors Christian and Elisabeth, who live on Bocana. They tell Bernalwood:

Yes, we’re opening a pinball arcade in Bernal Heights at the old Cutting Edge Salon location at 1000 Cortland at Folsom. It’ll be called Skillshot Pinball and Bar. It’s been a dream of mine and my wife’s for a few years and we’re finally making it happen in our own neighborhood!

It’ll be a family-oriented spot with no age restrictions, though we will also be selling beer and snacks (gotta make the rent somehow!) We’re just getting started with our architect now, but the plan is for pretty bold and bright colors for a playful feel to appeal to kids. At night, with some magic by way of lighting, it’ll transform into a hip little gem to bring a date or challenge friends for high scores. We’re planning on selling craft beer from neighbors Bare Bottle and Blue Oak Brewing, and will have others on hand through crafty distributors.

We have a temporary website up for the moment if you’re interested in finding out more about the project: skillshotpins.com. There you can see some of our promotions and get a taste for our style (Kid’s Happy Hour!, birthday party rentals, league nights, etc…)

As we tell more friends in the neighborhood we get more encouragement. We had no idea so many people were into pinball. And kids, too. We’re even planning on stocking juice/milk boxes and baby food based on feedback.

We project that we’ll open in about 6 or 7 months.

Fingers crossed.

Over Halloween, Neighbors Christian and Elisabeth set up a pinball machine in their Bocana garage, and many people stopped by to play. Consider this a preview of coming attractions:

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PHOTOS: San Francisco pinball game, photographed at the Pacific Pinball Museum in Alameda by Telstar Logistics. Dinosaur playing pinball on Bocana, courtesy of Neighbor Christian.

Nutes Noodles Seeking Permanent Place at 903 Cortland

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Pastafarians and multicultural noodle-freaks, rejoice! Nute’s Noodles, the Asian-infused  noodle soup and ramen restaurant that has long been doing pop-ups inside the space at 903 Cortland, now plans to become a permanent restaurant at (you guessed it) 903 Cortland.

Sarah Fritsche from Inside Scoop got the inside scoop:

Inside Scoop reached out to [chef Nute] Chulasuwan, who confirmed that she is indeed in the process of buying the Bernal Heights space from [former Sandbox Bakery owner Mutsumi] Takehara. (Also listed on the ABC license are partners Makiko Nakagawara and Supreeya Pongkasem.)

Chulasuwan says that the new incarnation of the space will be a continuation of her popular noodle pop-ups, which currently run four nights a week. For more details on what to expect from the forthcoming restaurant, check out Chulasuwan’s menu, which feature Thai noodle dishes, including a promising version of Northern Thai coconut curry noodle soup called Khao Soi, as well as Japanese-inspired ramen.

Chulasuwan says that the transfer will take a couple of months, but she hopes to open the restaurant by September.

IMAGE: 903 Cortland by Telstar Logistics

Isabel Caudillo’s El Buen Comer Restaurant Opening Soon on Mission

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A few months back, we told you about the crowdfunding campaign to support El Buen Comer, a new restaurant that will open at 3435 Mission Street (at Kingston) in Bernal Heights.

Well, the grand opening will (finally) happen soon, and San Francisco Chronicle reporter Jonathan Kauffman is so excited he wrote a big profile about Isabel Caudillo, the founder of El Buen Comer. Kauffman writes:

Isabel Caudillo’s first restaurant, El Buen Comer, opens in Bernal Heights next month with 45 seats, gorgeous terra-cotta bowls imported from Mexico, a beer and wine license, and waiters. But her true first restaurant opened in 2001. It was called her living room. […]

It has taken far longer than anyone thought for the restaurant to be ready. The delays have given Caudillo time to apply for loans from the Mission Economic Development Agency, launch a Kickstarter campaign — one donor contributed $15,000, which still floors her — and, most importantly, to feel ready. Her sisters call from Mexico, offering encouragement. Craig and Annie Stoll of Delfina continue to mentor her. So do colleagues in La Cocina who have already opened restaurants of their own.

Much like Caudillo’s living-room restaurant, El Buen Comer’s short dinner menu will center around comida corrida: four daily guisados with soup, beans, rice and tortillas, served family-style. Caudillo is cooking the food she grew up with, the food she knows in her bones, but the zeitgeist has inadvertently joined up with her: More non-Mexicans are searching out guisados, mostly in the form of tacos de guisado, tortillas topped with a few spoonfuls of stew.

Get to know Isabel Caudillo by reading Jonathan Kauffman’s complete profile of her, and start counting the days until El Buen Comer opens. Guisados! Guisados!

PHOTO: Isabel Caudillo by Gabrielle Lurie for The San Francisco Chronicle

Coming Soonish: The San Francisco Cafe and Creamery on Cortland

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Among the many questions brought to us by Bernalwood readers, one of the most frequent we hear these days is: “What’s going on with the creamery that’s supposed to go in to the former Bernal Heights Market at 800 Cortland, on the corner of Ellsworth?”

Indeed. As previously reported, the creamery on Cortland is a new project from by the family that created the [transformative] Harvest Hills Market on the Folsom end of Precita Park. It will be called the San Francisco Organic Cafe & Creamery.

Bernalwood has learned about an additional component to the plan: In parallel with the  San Francisco Organic Cafe & Creamery, the team also plans to launch a fleet of vintage trucks that have been painstakingly restored and converted into mobile ice cream stands. The Creamery will be a restaurant, but it will also function as a supply depot for the ice cream trucks. Here’s what the first truck looks like:

OceanGMC Truck

So when will the Creamery open? What’s the hold up? The wait for opening day has been long.  Your Bernalwood editor has been asking the Creamery team about this for quite some time. Yet whenever we ask, we’re greeted with a fatalistic shrug and a cryptic grin that we’ve also seen on the face of just about every would-be entrepreneur who has tried to open a new food business in Bernal Heights. Over time, Bernalwood has come to understand the meaning of this gesture. It signifies: “I’m basically ready, but I am powerless in the face of a vast and indifferent bureaucracy, so I have no idea when my business will open.”

In the case of the Creamery on Cortland, that challenge is magnified, because there are lots of special statewide regulations that apply to dairy-based businesses. As Michael from Harvest Hills sarcastically explained,  “We’ve learned that getting a milk plant license in California is almost as hard as opening a nuclear power plant.”

Despite all that, opening day is getting closer, hopefully, and there are new signs in the windows of the creamery that explain what’s to come:

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Bernalwood also received some additional detail from Hannah and Gina on the Creamery team:

We are expecting late February or March for partial opening of the cafe and creamery. They’ll put up the awning next week and then the big yellow truck will start to be up there more often for a little retail time in the afternoons. The yellow truck has won the bid to be in the city parks, along with five other trucks like her that will have organic items from the cafe. We are not sure how soon the final legal leases will be finished and of course El Nino has to run his course. None of our trucks are box trucks; all of them are open-platform diner trucks – you can see more at dinertrucks.com

Seating and some decoration will hold us up another few weeks from opening the cafe to the public. We still have to get the big 80 quart mixer in and its really heavy. The pizza oven and baking oven fired up this week along with other new ovens. We’ve been making ice cream there and hope to start the bread for the store soon, along with organic cookies, cupcakes and pies .. These items will also make it to our stores and others in the Bay area in 2016.

We’ve tried to focus on organic items that we don’t see made in San Francisco. So it’s simple San Francisco Organic… The retail side of the company is the Cafe and Creamery. We hope you get a chance to come up once we are fully operational.

So there you have it. Pretty soon, hopefully, the San Francisco Organic Cafe and Creamery will open for business, serving homemade ice cream and food in a diner-style atmosphere. And if for any reason that doesn’t happen, we can take comfort in the knowledge that 800 Cortland may prove to be a more promising site for a nuclear reactor instead.

PHOTOS: Storefont by Telstar Logistics. Truck courtesy of San Francisco Organic Cafe and Creamery

New Barebottle Brewery to Open on Cortland Early Next Year (Fingers Crossed)

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Here’s something to look forward to next year: Barebottle Brew Co. will open a brand-new brewery and brew pub in February or March in the empty warehouse building at 1525 Cortland, along the east end of the street near Peralta.

Inside Scoop reports:

Barebottle’s co-founders, Lester Koga, Michael Seitz and Ben Sterling, met as students at Cornell’s business school. While pursuing other careers — Seitz at Proctor & Gamble, Koga in counterterrorism strategy — the friends all became avid homebrewers, and got involved as judges in competitions through the Homebrewers Association. “As we started judging these homebrewing events, we began to think that the quality of beer made by homebrewers far surpasses what [some] production brewers are doing right now,” Koga says. “But it’s hard for homebrewers to get on the shelf.”

At Barebottle, they’ll host a monthly competition for homebrewers, each month based on a different beer style. A few winners, determined by a panel of judges, will have their recipes produced at Barebottle and poured in its taproom. Those deemed successful after some time in the taproom will become permanent Barebottle fixtures. Koga says they’re still working out how exactly the homebrewers will be rewarded for their winning recipes.

Cortlandt Toczylowski (Drake’s, E.J. Phair) has joined as head brewer, and is kicking off Barebottle’s proprietary portfolio with beers including a Russian imperial stout and a bourbon barrel-aged honey brown ale.

The 1,600-square-foot space, on Cortland Ave. near Peralta Ave., will incorporate the taproom within the production brewery. “Essentially, you drink around the brew house,” Koga explains. “We thought it would be cool to have that production process front and center.”

Super cool. To track Barebottle’s progress, check out all the construction photos at @barebottlebeer.

BONUS: Via EaterSF, here’s a photo of Barebottle’s new fermenters, installed in their new 17,000 square-foot facility. Sexy!

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PHOTO: Team Barebottle greets the arrival of their new fermenters, via @barebottlebeer

Murals Proposed for Sutrito Tower Utility Building on Bernal Hill

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A proposal is currently making the rounds to paint murals on the walls of the bunker-like utility building that sits inside the Sutrito Tower complex atop Bernal Hill. Under the current proposal, Precita Eyes Muralists would create four murals on each side of the building.

Omar Masry from the City’s Planning Department is circulating details about the proposal:

  • The radio tower and building are privately operated by American Tower Corporation (ATC). The Planning Department has been working with other City agencies (Public Safety, Department of Technology) and ATC on improvements to the site such as repairing fencing, adding landscaping (no trees well outside of the fence line are affected), a water tank (using recycled water), security (primarily motion-based) lighting, removing any abandoned antennas, and so on.
  • The tower features antennas for both commercial users, as well as those used by the City to communicate with police and firefighters in the neighborhood. So, improving security here is important, and we would appreciate your assistance in being an extra set of eyes for any suspicious activity, trespassing, or vandalism.
  • ATC is considering hosting a mural by a local artist group, Precita Eyes, on the walls of the building. Please see attached.
  • Please feel free to let me know your thoughts, or to contact Susan with Precita Eyes Muralists directly.
  • Because the building is privately owned, the mural is not subject to City review.

Precita Eyes has done conceptual drawings for each of the four proposed murals, with a narrative written to explain what the murals represent:

Bernal Heights Tower Medicine Wheel Mural Project Narrative

The initial concept of this project was inspired by the building’s natural surroundings, and its alignment with the cardinal directions, corresponding to the Ohlone (Aboriginal peoples of the greater Bay Area) medicine wheel. The four colors of the wheel represent all our relations, and declare peace for each other and the creatures found in the wild. Because it is a telecommunications tower, included are crystal mineral formations and geometric shapes to compliment ground built from surrounding native plants and trees.

The brief descriptions to follow reflects the properties and essences of each cardinal direction, which serves as the base color for each wall.

Yellow- East
Sutritosouth
Represents the male energy and direction of the rising sun and fire. Animals present are the San Francisco Garter Snake and the Tule Elk.

Black- West
Sutritowest
Also known as the direction of the feminine aspects seen as turtle, the continent known as Turtle Island stretching from North to South America. The word Tonantzin seen in the sky means Mother Earth in Nahuatl, the ancient language of the Mexica. Also important are the sacred waters and relationship with Metzli (The Moon), the death of one day (represented by the Flicker bird) leading to the next along with a pair of Great Blue Herons. The Lotus Flower and Native sage are also visualized.

Red- South
Sutrtoreast Held by the youth, essence of will and discipline, symbolized by the hummingbird. The wild curiosity of the Raccoon’s and Coyote’s trickster spirit is ever present in our modern day environment. The Black Widow web represents our collective web and security on the far left side connecting to an abstract version of native mother bird nesting.

White- North
Sutritornorth
The north side serves as an homage to our past, present and future relations and the word ancestors is read within the wings of a Golden Eagle with silhouetted figures underneath enjoying the sights and tranquility of Bernal Heights.

Leading Design Artists:

Max Marttila
Eli Lippert
Fred Alvarado
Dno Deladingo
Suaro Cervantes

Ok, got all that?

Here’s my personal $0.02: Putting murals on the walls of the Sutrito Tower utility building is a great idea, and long overdue. Yet Precita Eyes is already very, very well represented in our neighborhood. To name just a few, Precita Eyes did the piece on the front of the Bernal Heights library. Precita Eyes did the mural on the Precita Neighborhood Center, on Precita near Alabama. Precita Eyes did the murals on Leonard Flynn School, facing Precita Park. Precita Eyes has a mural on the Walgreens, on the northwest corner of Mission and Cesar Chavez. Precita Eyes has also been tapped to do a 9-story mural on the side of the subsidized housing project for senior citizens on Shotwell near Cesar Chavez.  Most of these are terrific pieces, but there’s no need for us to live in a mural monoculture, especially when there are a so many artists (young and old) who live in Bernal Heights, and who could bring an alternative perspective to this iconic. high-profile site. This is an excellent opportunity for us to diversify our public art and celebrate a broader range of Bernal talent. Why not give someone else a chance? Please, American Tower Corporation?

Of course, your opinion may differ. If you’d like to share your feedback on the current proposal, you can comment below or email Omar Masry from the Planning Department at omar.masry@sfgov.org.

PHOTO: Aerial view of Bernal Hill from Telstar Logistics