At the end of 2011, Neil Jorgensen's lease forced him to close Spork, only to turn around a week later to open Rice Broker in its place. The deal is that the space's landlord is set to demolish the building next year, but until then, Jorgensen will be in the kitchen at the helm of his new Asian pop-up concept.
Inside, Spork's interior remains much the same but with the addition of a large paper menu next to the counter where you order and take a number to your table until your food arrives. On offer are snacks like a palate-cleansing edamame and dandelion green salad dressed in cane vinegar and sesame oil. It's small and delicate, but don't expect the same from the mains. Make no mistake: This place is for big appetites. For entrees, there are four large rice bowls, including crispy panko-breaded chicken with shaved Brussels sprouts or ahi tuna with apples, spiced peanuts, and black and white sesame seeds. But the highlight was the pork meatballs floating in a clear chicken broth over a healthy serving of creamy rice porridge. To top it off, Jorgensen finished the bowl with black sesame oil and sweet, bite-sized bok choy. The ginger-spiced meatballs were perfectly pink and just dense enough to give way when dug into with a Chinese soup spoon, making it easy to compose the perfect bite of pork, porridge, broth, and bok choy every time.
For drinks, they've got a good selection of sakes and rice beers. Pair the heavy and comforting meatballs with a crisp Hitachino white ale, and you'll be golden.
1058 Valencia Street, 415-643-5000