Wo Hing General Store
At a trendy new restaurant in town, the sommelier approaches your table. At least you think she’s a sommelier. Wearing sneakers, she looks barely old enough to drink.
Leopold's sausage and kraut (photo by Ed Anderson)
It's been 12 months of good eating. After reviewing all my past blogs, I've pulled out some—though clearly not all—of the most delicious dishes from 2011 and listed them in no particular order. A couple are new discoveries to me (see L'Ardoise), some are rediscoveries (see Kiss), but most are new as of this year.
One day I will write a juicy, tell-all story about how hard it is to open a restaurant in San Francisco. You don't have to know how to manage a floor or how to cook. You have to be a field and track Olympian in long distance fundraising, red-tape relays, permit hurdling, and PG&E pole vaulting.
The weather is cooling off and the restaurant world is heating up. The city is about to barraged by new establishments serving everything from barbecue to boba drinks—the majority opening in the insatiable Mission District.
Always knee-deep in restaurant news, I often forget that there are plenty of people who live a good life, oblivious to the fact that Wo Hing General Store has opened its doors. Or even that Wo Hing is located in the original Slanted Door. Charles who?
There's no Coco Lopez cream of coconut in the classic piña colada at Charles Phan's new Wo Hing General Store. Bar manager Brooke Arthur uses handmade coconut cream instead, giving the drink an unexpected lightness and sophistication—this is not your grandma's all-inclusive cruise ship piña colada. The cream is made in Charles Phan's commissary kitchen. "It has a milky texture and taste that adds a lot to the cocktail," says Arthur. Compared to the intravenous sugar hit that is Coco Lopez, it's a revelation. What else goes into a pina colada befitting Phan's food? You'll be able to taste it for yourself when the restaurant opens this Friday, but here's a preview.
It's Fall. And with Fall, restaurant openings go haywire. Charles Phan's Wo Hing General Store, three new BBQ/Southern-inspired restaurants (in the Mission and the Marina) and the first of three Bay Area Umami Burgers should be opening in the next few months. And that's just off the top of my head. With soft-opening this, and grand opening that, firing off left and right, sometimes it's nice—necessary, even—to step back and relish the gems that've been sitting here, right underneath our noses, for years: the Chez Papas, Canteens, and Outerlands of our city. This post is dedicated to the San Francisco fixtures that haven't just survived for three, five, maybe even 20 years, in our cutthroat restaurant-scape; they've flourished. And you better believe they've got something good in the works for the next few months.