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We Wanna Be Friends With: Tak Matsuba

Our city is chock-full of interesting people and wild personalities. Overwhelmed by the coolness? Every week we'll pick one standout local we'd love to be friends with to answer seven essential questions about their life in San Francisco.

When Tak Matsuba shuttered his Michelin-starred restaurant Bushi-Tei in Japantown last year, there was a city-wide sigh of despair. But since closing up shop shop, Tak's been putting his 30 years of culinary experience to good use and dabbling in exciting projects around the city. After a stint serving traditional Japanese breakfast at Ken Ken Ramen and acting as a guest collaborator with the Eastern Addition pop-up dinner series, Tak is working on his new obsession.

Along with a few of the guys from Taylor Stitch (including their shop manager Kazu, his son), Tak is focusing on the singular pursuit of creating the perfect fried chicken sandwich. Dubbed Tak’s Place Pop-Up Kitchen, sandwiches are served from 5 p.m. until they're sold out at Lightning Tavern (more locations in the works). With a tagline like "Fried chicken like your Japanese grandmother used to make," ingredients include fresh chicken breast marinated and fried karaage-style; a daikon, mizuna and radish slaw; and a Kewpie-yuzu mayo. Sandwiches are served with fried lotus root chips, and every detail scrutinized personally by the chef.

We love when masters at their craft take on projects that they are clearly passionate about, and have fun with their exceptional tools. We also really, really love Asian-inspired fried chicken sandwiches (RIP Dogpatch Millionaire), so this goes down as a huge win-win in our book!

1. What neighborhood do you currently call home? Would you ever move or are you happy in your 'hood?

I currently live in the Lone Mountain area, just south of Laurel Heights. I love the short walk to Laurel Village and the convenience of Trader Joe's, Target, Best Buy. I'm very happy here!

2. What's your hands-down, absolute favorite thing to eat in SF?

My very favorite thing to eat is sashimi, especially uni. I like Ino in the Japan Center, and Kisu on Laguna Street.

3. What's your perfect night on the town?

A perfect night on the town is to stroll through Fisherman's Wharf, with a quick stop for cracked crab and glass of chardonnay. I top it off with a stop at Osteria for beef carpaccio and vongole with barbaresco.

4. When you need a low-key afternoon, where do you go for down time?

It's very soothing to jog through the Presidio.

5. What's your favorite place to go on a day trip from the city?

I like to spend a day in Yountville and have a leisurely lunch at Bottega.

6. Quick-fire round:

Burrito or Burger?

Burrito. 

Presidio or Golden Gate Park?

Golden Gate Park.

BiRite or Mitchell's?

Bi-Rite.

Bike or MUNI?

Bike.

Fort Mason or Dolores Park?

Fort Mason.

The Independent or the Fillmore?

Fillmore.

Baker Beach or Ocean Beach?

Baker Beach.

7. Three words that describe your life in SF?

International, colorful and cultural.

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