Andrew Generalao, GM of Yoshi's San Francisco
Photo courtesy of John A. Benson Photography
Yoshi's was just awarded 3 stars from the Chronicle. Has your job just gotten harder, or are you able to breathe a bit easier now?
I am able to breathe a little easier. With only a month to prepare ourselves for Michael Bauer’s review, I got very little sleep and no days off. Nothing has changed other than the stress levels have gone. I am relieved that we got the review out of the way, but now we have to uphold our 3 star reputation—this is where it gets more challenging.
What is the most challenging aspect of your job?
Trying to keep all 180 of my staff motivated and happy.
The Yoshi’s dining room and lounge seats nearly 400 people. How do you keep your eye on everything? Video cameras. Kidding. Well, I have used them [video cameras] a couple of times to spot check performance. I believe building a strong management team is the key to keeping this place in line.
How old are you? How long have you worked in the restaurant industry? Where did you work before Yoshi’s?
People always tell me that I look too young to be managing a place this big. I am 34 years old, but I have been working in restaurants all my life. My father worked for Trader Vic’s for 35 years. I grew up working at the old Cosmo Place location restocking the kitchen dry storage area when I was 10 years old. At 16, I started as bus boy at this tiny French restaurant in Berkeley called La Crème De la Crème and left there working as their pantry cook at the age of 18. After college I started managing restaurants all around the Bay Area and ended up at Ozumo where Chef Sho and I met. In 2006, we joined Yoshi’s as the managing team for San Francisco.
Are you tired of Japanese food, yet?
Never! In fact I love to cook Japanese food at home. There is such a variety of tastes in Japanese cuisine. People often equate Japanese cuisine with sushi rolls and teriyaki chicken. My trips to Japan have turned me onto so many regional cooking styles. It is amazing how an island the size of California can have such a range across its landscape.
Yoshi’s hosts some amazing musicians. What have been your favorite acts thus far? Who are you looking forward to seeing?
Wow, this is a hard question to answer. That is like asking what my favorite food is. Wait—that's is the next question. If I had to pick one artist I would have to say Taj Mahal. I have been a fan of his since I was in college. His voice is incredible and nobody can play the steel guitar quite like Taj. I am really looking forward to seeing legendary Cuban trumpet player Arturo Sandoval at the end of February. This run will be paying homage to the legends of Mambo big band. I have fond memories of my parents playing records of Tito Puente in our living room and dancing together.
Where do you like to eat when you’re not working?
Truthfully, there are nights when all I want to have is a burger, fries, and a tall beer. I usually hit up Nopa to satisfy my craving.
What’s your favorite thing on the Yoshi’s menu?
Panko monkfish sauté. Nice tender pieces of monkfish that have been rolled in toasted panko breadcrumbs. Sho places a poached egg in the middle of the dish so that you can break up the yolk and incorporate it into the tamari brown butter sauce. Simply sublime.