Category Archives: Restaurants

Where’s the Beef At Gozu? It’s In Practically Everything

At the new Gozu -- dining is like theater with the kitchen its stage.
At the new Gozu — dining is like theater with the kitchen its stage.

Much like you wouldn’t expect to a half chicken set before you at a yakitori restaurant, don’t come to the new Gozu in San Francisco craving a brontosaurus-sized steak.

Nope, you won’t find that here.

Unlike so many Wagyu-focused restaurants of late in the Bay Area, this one doesn’t focus solely on the primo primal cuts. Instead, Chef-Owner Marc Zimmerman employs a nose-to-tail philosophy here, making use of far more parts of the Japanese specialty-breed, heavily marbled cow than a typical steakhouse ever would.

You’ll find him burning the bones as charcoal, rendering the fat to make sauces and to preserve vegetables, and using lean cuts to even make a house-made version of shoyu.

Charcoal-grilled skewer of the flat-iron of Hokkaido A5 Wagyu Snow Beef.
Charcoal-grilled skewer of the flat-iron of Hokkaido A5 Wagyu Snow Beef.

Zimmerman got the idea for this unique restaurant about five years ago when he was the chef at Alexander’s Steakhouse in San Francisco. He would regularly travel to Japan to source Wagyu from farmers there. But back then, he was only buying the loins, which prompted the farmers to question when he would buy the entire animal. After all, a farmer can’t make a living by only selling part of a cow. The only way to maintain a sustainable business is to make use of every bit of what you’re raising.

It got Zimmerman thinking, and agreeing that it only made sense to buy the entire animal.

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Behind the Doors of Hiroshi in Los Altos

A5 Wagyu sando at Hiroshi in Los Altos.
A5 Wagyu sando at Hiroshi in Los Altos.

It’s a good bet that not many ordinary mortals have dined at Hiroshi in downtown Los Altos.

After all, when it opened its doors two years ago, it was easily staked a claim to being the most expensive and most exclusive restaurant in the Bay Area. That’s because the Japanese restaurant, which essentially acts as your own private restaurant, serves only eight diners per night — at $400 per person on up, excluding tax, tip and beverages. What’s more, whether you were a party of six, four or two, you had to pay the full price of eight diners.

Hand-cut Japanese crystal known as Edokiriko.
Hand-cut Japanese crystal known as Edokiriko.

But Hiroshi recently changed that policy, making the restaurant more accessible and affordable. Well, sort of. The 10-course dinner now starts at $575 per person, exclusive of tax, tip, and beverages. But you need only a minimum of four diners to make a reservation now.

Owned by Chef Hiroshi Kimura and Japanese businessman Iwata Tsuyoshi, the restaurant has hosted the likes of Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page, as well as other tech titans.

Chef Hiroshi Kimura.
Chef Hiroshi Kimua.

This summer, the chef hosted an intimate group of six food writers, including yours truly, to experience his traditional Japanese cuisine served against a backdrop of dazzling art and plateware in a serene dining room dominated by 16-foot raw-edge table, fashioned from an 800-year-old zelkova tree, the same type of wood used to construct Japanese temples.

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A Sneak Taste of Mentone

Michelin three-starred Chef David Kinch awaits the opening of his new Aptos restaurant.
Michelin three-starred Chef David Kinch awaits the opening of his new Aptos restaurant.

Although a 2019 opening was expected for Chef David Kinch’s newest restaurant, Mentone in Aptos, eager diners will have to wait a little longer.

Like most under-construction restaurants these days, permit approvals have taken longer than expected. So, Mentone will likely open in the first half of January 2020 instead.

That’s what Kinch confirmed last week, while hosting a pop-up at Manresa Bread in Campbell, where he debuted some of the lusty, soulful food he’ll be serving at Mentone, the first Italian restaurant by this Michelin three-starred chef.

A few pastries remaining in the case at the start of the pop-up.
A few pastries remaining in the case at the start of the pop-up.
The dining room at Manresa Bread in Campbell set with more tables for the Mentone pop-up.
The dining room at Manresa Bread in Campbell set with more tables for the Mentone pop-up.

“People think I’m purposely delaying the opening to build more suspense,” he says with a laugh. “But that’s not true. It’s out of my hands.”

Yes, after conquering the highest echelons of fine-dining with Manresa, artisan bread-baking with Manresa Bread (Los Gatos, Los Altos, and Campbell), and the spirit of the Big Easy with the Bywater in Los Gatos, Kinch is turning his attention to the cuisine of the Italian and French Riviera, from which Mentone gets its name. It’ll also be the first restaurant on the “other side of the hill” of Highway 17 for Kinch, who has called Santa Cruz home for decades.

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Afuri Ramen & Dumplings Opens Its First California Outpost

The famed yuzu shio ramen at Afuri in Cupertino.
The famed yuzu shio ramen at Afuri in Cupertino.

Can you stand yet another ramen joint opening in the Bay Area?

You surely can when it’s one that not only specializes in a chicken-based broth rather than pork, but also offers a unique hazelnut vegan broth.

Tokyo-based Afuri opened its first California outpost on Tuesday. The 54-seat fast-casual restaurant in Cupertino, a stone’s throw from Whole Foods, is its second U.S. locale, following the 70-seat one that opened in Portland last year, which now serves upwards of 500 bowls of ramen daily. Named for a mountain in Japan, Afuri also has a franchise location in Lisbon, with Richmond, B.C. also in the works. It expects to open another South Bay location next year, possibly in Mountain View.

I had a chance to preview some of the menu items the day before the Cupertino one opened to the public.

Order at the touch-screen kiosk.
Order at the touch-screen kiosk.

Step up to the electronic touch-screen kiosk to place your order for ramen, gyoza, rice bowls, beverages, and more. You can add extra toppings easily with the touch of a finger — or even eliminate any that you don’t want. Slide your credit card to pay; or hit a button to notify a server that you want to pay by cash instead. Then, grab a carved wooden number holder nearby and place it at your table for your server to find you to deliver the food.

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50th Anniversary of Taste & Tribute, Gott’s A Day of Giving, And More

19th Annual Taste & Tribute

Chefs Jarad Gallagher and Peter Armellino plating at last year's Taste & Tribute. (Photo courtesy of the Tibetan Aid Project)
Chefs Jarad Gallagher and Peter Armellino plating at last year’s Taste & Tribute. (Photo courtesy of the Tibetan Aid Project)

The Tibetan Aid Project celebrates a milestone 50th anniversary, as well as its 19th annual Taste & Tribute gala, 5 p.m. Nov. 22 at the Four Seasons in San Francisco.

For half a century, the organization has worked to rebuild and preserve Tibet’s cultural heritage.

The unique gala features pairs of celebrated Bay Area chefs cooking a four-course dinner table-side for guests.

Chef Laurent Manrique of Cafe de la Presse in San Francisco has been instrumental in organizing the chef brigade over the years. He’s back again this time, joined by Chef Gerald Hirogoyen of San Francisco’s Piperade.

Chef Laurent Manrique receiving a Tibetan blessing.
Chef Laurent Manrique receiving a Tibetan blessing.

Some of the other chef duos who will be cooking together include Reylon Augustin of Madera in Menlo Park and Dustin Valette of Valette in Healdsburg; Peter Armellino of The Plumed Horse in Saratoga and Anthony Strong of Prairie in San Francisco; and Jason Pringle of Selby’s in Redwood City and Eric Upper of Alexander’s Steakhouse in San Francisco.

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