If you get the inkling that Sekoya, the newest restaurant to open on California Avenue in Palo Alto, might be named for the majestic, hardy, and giant tree, you’d be correct.
From the English elm and walnut tables in the lounge, and the dramatic, curving, live-edge dining table by the bar to the plates that mimic cross-sections of trees, it’s clear that sequoias and their ilk are an inspiration for this bar, lounge, and restaurant that opened in mid-August.
It’s the latest restaurant by Steve Ugur, co-owner of San Mateo’s Pausa with Chef Andrea Giuliani, who also happens to be director of butchering at his father’s San Mateo restaurant, Porterhouse. Unlike the former, which is Italian, and the latter, which is a classic steakhouse, Sekoya draws from many global influences, primarily French and Mediterranean.
Chef de Cuisine Jason Johnson — formerly of Chez TJ in Mountain View, and Wayfare Tavern and Quince, both in San Francisco — oversees the menu that is heavy on starters and shared plates.
If you’re craving some saffron-scented paella — and want to put your cooking skills to the test — Teleferic Barcelona makes it easy to do so now.
The Spanish restaurant, with locations in Walnut Creek and Palo Alto, is now selling paella kits that you can pick up or get delivered.
Choose from kits that serve 2 or 4, and are designed to make traditional paella, squid ink paella or fideua. The kits are priced from $43 to $72.
The Palo Alto restaurant in the Town & Country Village, which has its own little merkat or market attached, invited me last week to test drive a kit on the house.
The $48 basic paella kit comes with a paella pan, bomba rice, olive oil, Spanish crushed peppers, paella seasoning mix, and the restaurant’s own jarred sofrito. Just add your own stock or broth, as well as vegetables and protein.
Chef Tammy Huynh has had a long, storied legacy in the restaurant industry. Her parents opened Vung Tau in downtown San Jose in 1985, one of the pioneering authentic Vietnamese restaurants in the region. In 2002, Huynh followed in her family’s footsteps to open the contemporary Tamarine in downtown Palo Alto.
Now, at the other end of Palo Alto’s University Avenue, she’s opened up Tam Tam Restaurant, a more casual, more regionally focused establishment.
It’s still a family affair with Huynh opening up her latest restaurant with her sister Tanya Huynh Hartley. Huynh’s son Kevin Phan is the general manager.
I was invited in as a guest of the restaurant, which opened in mid-September not far from the CalTrain station.
A large bar makes up the back of the dining room, making a popular spot for solo diners and couples to plop down for a quick bite after work. The dining room is decorated with paintings by Vietnamese artists to add a splash of color.
This summer, when timing necessitated postponing my birthday dinner at Michelin three-starred Manresa to two months later, my husband asked me where I wanted to go instead on my actual birthday weekend. I immediately knew the spot.
It was another Michelin-recognized establishment.
One where the food would be equally unforgettable and fill me with similar contentment.
And where my husband would be especially thrilled because it turned out to be the least expensive birthday dinner he’d ever bought me.
Though she had never opened a restaurant before, Pakistani-born Zareen Khan decided to do just that when she opened the original fast-casual Zareen’s in Mountain View on 2014. It proved such a hit that two years later, she opened a second, larger Zareen’s on California Avenue in Palo Alto, which is the one we frequent. In 2020, look for a third and larger location to open in downtown Redwood City.
Tech workers who get all the free food they want on their campuses gladly flock to Zareen’s to stand in line and, yes, pay their own money, for her incredible contemporary Pakistani-Indian food. Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan have dined here. And Chef Anthony Secviar and Master Sommelier Dennis Kelly, the team behind Michelin-starred Protege in Palo Alto across the street from Zareen’s, have made no secret about being so addicted to Zareen’s chicken tikka masala that they eat it weekly.
The upscale seafood-focused restaurant with the chic, Tiffany-like blue dining room can be a spendy experience, often more suited to a special occasion or a business account meal.
But on Sunday nights from now through Sept. 1, the restaurant is featuring a chef’s choice sushi platter for a reasonable $35 per person. Recently, I had a chance to try the new sushi special when I was invited in as a guest of the restaurant.
Sunday evenings are definitely a quieter time for the restaurant. Only a few people nursed drinks at the bar, while in the dining room, a few tables definitely seemed like they were celebrating a noteworthy moment.
The swank bar.
The seafood theme carries over into the decor.
We left ourselves in the hands of the kitchen and Executive Chef Yu Min Lin, who created a truncated tasting menu for us with the sushi platter included.