In our "What's in your Bay" series, 7x7 asks local chefs, artists, designers, and entrepreneurs what restaurants, venues, and getaways form the landmarks of their Bay Area (and beyond).
Pastry chef Serena Chow Fisher made waves when she and husband David Fisher somehow turned their pandemic-born restaurant Marlena into a Michelin-starred darling in a year filled with COVID uncertainty. But after splitting ways with the restaurant this summer, Chow Fisher has shifted her attention to two new projects that are likely to catapult her back into spotlight.
Jack & Remi, a new craft ice cream company, is named after her two pups and currently popping up with flavors like sourdough toast and jam and 4XChocolate made with Valrhona devil’s food cake; and 7 Adams, an upcoming Japantown restaurant.
When not hard at work, Chow Fisher, David, and Remi call San Mateo home—the same city where Chow grew up. We caught up with her to ask what she loves most about the Bay, from her go-to neighborhood spot to her favorite places to shop local.
"I love the springy texture of the hand-pulled belt noodles [at Ox 9 Lanzhou Handpulled Noodles], and their wontons in chili oil are my number one comfort food," says Chow Fisher.(Courtesy of @ox9_lanzhou_handpulled_noodles)
What is your go-to neighborhood spot?
Downtown San Mateo is home to a lot of Asian food choices. My favorite of them all is Ox 9 Lanzhou Handpulled Noodles (11 S. B St.). I love the springy texture of the hand-pulled belt noodles, and their wontons in chili oil are my number one comfort food. Noodles travel well, so your take-out at home will be just as satisfying as when you eat in the restaurant.
Where’s your favorite place in the Bay to take out of town visitors?
Some of my go-to places are the Ferry Building (1 Ferry Bldg., Embarcadero) and, if time allows, over the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito. I like that the Ferry Building houses all your SF food staples, and it’s a quick way to enjoy a condensed SF experience along the water. As a bonus, if your visitors have kids, it’s a short skip away to Pier 15 and the Exploratorium. Even though the Exploratorium is mostly targeted to a younger age group, I’m always fascinated how it stays relevant and interesting, even when you are older!
What’s your favorite Northern California day trip?
Carmel-by-the-Sea! It’s a short trip away and we love to be by the water. I love walking around the beach and seeing all the names of the beach houses—and the shopping is always so fun. One of my top three favorite meals was at Aubergine at the L’Auberge Carmel (Monte Verde & 7th St.), and I’m dreaming about when we’ll go back.
"[Therapy Stores] carry all kinds of great gifts for children and adults, a section that features the Bay Area city that each outlet is located in, and super cute clothing," says Chow Fisher.(Courtesy of @therapystores)
What Bay Area shop do you love to visit?
Therapy Stores! They’re all over the Bay Area and each one curates a different stock of goods. They carry all kinds of great gifts for children and adults, a section that features the Bay Area city that each outlet is located in, and super cute clothing.
What Bay Area–made item can you not live without?
I love Marshall’s Farm Natural Honey because they separate their honey by county so it’s a great way to combat allergies naturally. All the teas from Song Tea (2120 Sutter St., Pac Heights): they are curated so thoughtfully and the shop is beautiful. And finally, Cocofloss. I didn’t know I could love a dental floss, but I do, and this one is it. They also make a great toothbrush.
What’s your favorite Bay Area park for hiking or biking?
My favorite hike is at Pulgas Ridge (Edmonds Rd., Redwood City) because there are so many trails that you can really choose your own adventure. Not only are you able to spend two-plus hours getting a good workout in, but there are also shorter trails that can have you in and out in 45 minutes flat. There are also heavily shaded redwood areas and sunny hilltops—the best of all worlds!
"[Tenaya Lodge] is spacious and well-maintained, and the location makes it a great home base to visit all the smaller towns surrounding Yosemite ," says Chow Fisher.(Courtesy of @tenayaatyosemite)
What is your favorite Northern California location for a weekend getaway?
Lake Tahoe is always our first choice. We love the variety of different activities offered on the lake and in the mountains, and that the vacation can be so different based on whether you are in North or South Lake, and whether you are visiting in the summer or the winter. I also get peace of mind knowing our dogs can play in the lake without ingesting a ton of salt water, and I always enjoy a fun night in the casino.
What California hotel or resort have you visited more than once or would you love to go back to?
Tenaya Lodge in Yosemite (1122 CA-41, Fish Camp). Dave and I love going to Yosemite every winter to hike and spend some time in the snow. The resort itself is spacious and well-maintained, and the location makes it a great home base to visit all the smaller towns surrounding Yosemite as well. Tenaya is also dog friendly!