Japanese Curry House and Japanese-Style Oyster Bar Coming Soon to Mission Street

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All of a sudden, a single block of Mission Street in Bernal Heights is poised become a Japanese food hotspot. Indeed, in a few months, Bernal Heights will be home to such a dense cluster of Japanese cuisine that the La Lengua Tourism Promotion Bureau should begin calling it Nano Tokyo.

We’re talking about the area of Mission near 29th Street. As we all know, this is where you’ll find Ichi Sushi + Ni Bar, the hyperacclaimed sushi bar and izakaya created by Bernal neighbors Tim and Erin Archuleta. And then, of course, Coco Ramen recently opened up across the street, right next door to the unfortunately named (but actually quite solid) Crazy Sushi. So: Sushi, sushi, izakaya, and ramen.

Now Bernalwood has learned that even more Japanese cuisine is coming to this area:

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Yes, construction is now underway inside the former location of the much-lamented Eagle Donuts. Bernalwood has learned that the space will soon become the Fumi Curry House, a restaurant that will specialize in Japanese-style curry. What’s Japanese-style curry? Well, it’s hearty and delicious — if somewhat esoteric on these shores. In Japan, people love it as a comfort food (sort of like the way Americans feel about mac and cheese). Here’s a photo of some Japanese curry your Bernalwood editor ate in Japan a few years ago:

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Here’s how SeriousEats describes Japanese curry:

People might be surprised to find curry in Japanese restaurants, but the fact is karē raisu (カレーライス), or Japanese curry rice, is so ubiquitous in Japanese home-cooking that it might well be considered one of the country’s national dishes.

Curry was introduced to Japan via the British in the second half of the nineteenth century, when Meiji-era Japan opened its doors to foreigners and their goods. As a result, Japanese curry inherits most of its characteristics from Anglo curry—which means that the Japanese used and continue to use curry powder. Curry powder, a ready-made mix of spices, began to be standardized and mass-produced in Britain at the height of Queen Victoria’s colonial stronghold of India. Curry powders are not only standardized masalas—they are also adapted to Western palates, and often result in curry dishes that are slightly sweet.

In Japan, British curry developed into karē raisu, a curried, thick stew of potatoes, carrots, onions, and your meat of choice, served over a bed of short-grain, white rice, and topped with pickles.

If you’ve never had Japanese curry, you’ll be able to try it soon enough. The build-out for Fumi Curry House is already underway inside the former Eagle Donuts, and construction should be complete in about a month. Then its just a question of how long it takes to sort out all the permits.

Meanwhile, just up the street, the Team Ichi is gearing up to open their new Japanese-style oyster bar inside Ichi Sushi’s cozy original space just down the road at 3369 Mission, on the corner of Godeus. So what is a Japanese-style oyster bar?

Frankly, we have no idea! Kaki is the Japanese word for oyster; the -ya at the end means “shop.” So kakiya means “oyster shop,” which isn’t very helpful because  we already knew it was an oyster shop. Neighbor Tim and Neighbor Erin are being coy about their diabolical plans, but we’re told opening day is approaching. This weekend, however, the @ICHIKakiya Twitter account came to life for the very first time, whereupon we were treated to this photo of Chef Tim doing something unseemly with a large, red machine:

Now, it must be noted that none of the restaurants are Japanese-owned. (The owners of Fumi Curry House are Chinese.) Yet when you pull it all together, and look at what’s there now, and what’s coming soon, there is definitely a serious Japanese food cluster happening. It’s not big enough to be called a Little Tokyo. But it sure is starting to taste a little like Shibuya. (All that’s missing is a yakitori joint.)

So let us now dub this zone Nano Tokyo. Here is your guide map:

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PHOTOS: Telstar Logistics

New Analysis Reveals Political Leanings of Bernal Microhoods

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It should come as a surprise to exactly no one that Bernal Heights is a rather left-liberal place, politically. But exactly how far left? And where are the mostest leftest enclaves within our domain?

Last year, we got some snapshot data on this courtesy of Neighbor Patrick, who pulled together a geektastic analysis of results from last November’s general election, breaking down the vote along the lines of Bernalwood’s Official Guide to Bernal Heights microhoods.

His conclusion, based on one election result, was: Voters from Foggy Vista on the west slope are the most progressive-left Bernalese, while the residents of St. Mary’s Park in the southwest are the most centrist.

Interestingly, a new citywide analysis by political consultant David Latterman seems to affirm that, while also providing more granular texture about the political leanings of Bernal’s other microhoods.

Scott Lucas from San Francisco Magazine kindly wrote up a summary of Latterman’s analysis (so I don’t have to):

Latterman, who works for moderate candidates and office holders, used methods developed by SF State professor Rich DeLeon, the author of Left Coast City and the most-widely respected authority on the history of San Francisco’s progressivism. (Point being: Their biases cancel out.)

Using data on the voting outcomes at the precinct level for fourteen different ballot initiatives from 2012 to 2014, Latterman found that the distribution of left and further left voters in the city has remained constant since De Leon ran the numbers in 2004. The city’s progressives are concentrated in the center, in neighborhoods like the Tenderloin, the Mission, the Haight, and Bernal Heights. Less liberal voters, by contrast, ring around them, with the Sunset District and the Marina being home to the most conservative voters on local issues. That’s not news.

What is, however, is that Latterman has found evidence that voters who have moved to the city more recently are voting more conservatively than their neighbors: “Newer residents in San Francisco, especially in District 6 [SOMA], vote more conservatively than the longer‐residence voters around them. While this has been noted anecdotally and in some ballot measure results, this is some of the first strong quantitative evidence for this trend.”

Bernalwood used a zoom and enhance algorithm on one of Latterman’s infographics to generate a snapshot of Bernal’s political leanings, on a microhood basis. Here’s a closeup of Bernal Heights, and remember: the darker the blue, the more left-progressive the area is:

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The patterns here are pretty clear. Indeed, as previously hypothesized, Foggy Vista on the west slope is highly progressive. Other progressive bastions include Cortlandia, Baja Cortlandia, and the western half of Precitaville. Indeed, citywide, Park Street would seem to be the southernmost frontier of San Francisco progressivism. Meanwhile, eastern Bernalese are more left-center, while the peoples of St. Mary’s are clearly in the middle of the political spectrum.

So now we know… with a bit more analytical certainty.

INFOGRAPHICS: Fall Line Analytics

Bomb Squad Drama! Mother-In-Law Finds Hand Grenade In Bernal Back Yard

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There was plenty of drama on Lundys Lane last night after a hand grenade (!!!) was found at a Bernal Heights home. Police were called, area streets were closed off, and the Bomb Squad arrived in a big truck to defuse the situation.

Luckily, the Bernalwood Action News Team had an embedded correspondent on the scene to cover the story. Reporting live from her own back yard, Neighbor Alison tells us about the shocking discovery:

Here’s the scoop on what happened.

My mother-in-law was working in our back yard, digging out a patch of dirt. There was a pile of rocks that she had hit with a pitchfork, and one of them seemed different than the others, so she picked it up and noticed how heavy it was. Then she realized it was a grenade, and set it down very carefully.

She came inside and told me — I was with my 7-week-old.  I’m somewhat embarrassed to say that we immediately Googled “found grenade San Francisco” for a bit to see if this is common. I found a couple of stories from the last few years where people had found grenades, and they had called the police, so we decided that’s what we should do too.

It should have occurred to me that this would trigger the Bomb Squad showing up and we would need to evacuate, but it did not. About five officers arrived about 20 minutes later, and we had to grab a few things and leave, as did all the neighbors on our side of the street. Our neighbors across the street were told they had to “shelter in place,” which meant they were allowed to stay home as long as they were inside. So they invited us to come over, and poured some wine while we waited things out.

My husband was arriving home at the time, and the police had to escort him down the street to join us at the neighbor’s house. They actually asked him if it was his grenade.

Eventually the bomb squad truck arrived. After about 90 minutes, they gave us the all clear to return home. The verdict was that it was a World War II era grenade, and that it had been emptied out. Their guess is someone brought it home from the war as a souvenir.

It was an eventful evening! We’re home now eating It’s It.

Take note, folks: After an exciting evening of explosive ordinance disposal, real San Franciscans reach for It’s It.

PHOTOS: Top, vintage grenade discovered on Lundys Lane, by Neighbor Alison. Below, Bomb Squad on Lundys, courtesy of Vivian Redmond/48hills

Your Bernal Heights Crime Report for March 2015: Burglars Burgling, Lots of Auto Break-Ins, and Shotwell Stairs Can Be Sketchy

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Once again, Neighbor Sarah, your valiant volunteer Bernal Heights crime correspondent, attended the SFPD Ingleside Community meeting this month, and she filed these summary notes on the latest Bernal Heights crime trends. Read on, read carefully, be smart, and stay safe:

Notes from Ingleside Community Meeting, March 17, 2015

I attended last week’s community meeting, as did several Bernal neighbors. The room was as packed as I’ve ever seen it. Lt. Rich Struckman, the night watch commander, filled in for Capt. McFadden.

There was a double homicide in Crocker Amazon recently. SFPD believes it was targeted/gang-related. Can’t share much because it’s a homicide investigation. No retaliation so far.

Rash of burglaries in Nov/Dec/Jan – arrested group of six people related to those. Preliminary hearings going on now. Suspects told SFPD they skipped homes with any sign of alarm/security/etc. Looked for newspapers/pamphlets piling up or other signs people were out of town. Knocked on doors to see if anyone answered. All daytime robberies in that string.

“Be a nosy neighbor.” If you see a crime in progress – even property crimes – call 911. If you see people you think are casing homes or cars, call 553-0123. Try to be detailed when calling.

If you’re calling the police after the fact in a burglary, have the police come take a report – important for investigators because it helps them tie crimes together if, say, an arrest is made in a similar crime in the future.

Lots of auto break-ins – hard to solve. Lots of desperate people in SF. Often narcotics-related (ie, drug addicts opportunistically looking for things to steal and sell).

SFPD highly recommends SFSAFE (673-SAFE) for setting up neighborhood watches and for learning crime-prevention tips.

Lt Struckman thinks Ingleside has the most and best-organized community groups in the city.

Lailah Morris, assistant DA posted at the station, was in attendance. (lailah.morris@sfgov.org)

Question about robberies on Geneva/Mission corridor – but on the back streets. Two officers always posted in that area.

Cell phone kill switch question – you have to call a hotline to get phone disabled, but it is on all new iPhones. For older phones, little cellphone stores will break phones for bad guys so they can re-sell.

Question on new lights for dark streets (often a question in Bernal as well). Very difficult to get new lights installed. PUC owns most lights on major corridors. PG&E owns most lights on residential streets. Supervisor Wiener trying to bring all under city control. For now, your best bet for getting new lights installed is to work with your supervisor and stay after the PG&E Government Relations representative. Surprisingly helpful measure is to have everyone leave on porch lights all night.

Question about Alemany condo complex — even security cameras have been stolen! Constant auto break-ins. One guy was arrested for residential burglaries in that area in Feb – those have dropped. But auto break-ins tend to be opportunistic and committed by people with drug problems.

Question about illegal gambling shacks. Major arrests at Kingston/Mission – working in conjunction with DA and City Atty to shut this and other ones down. Ingleside is kind of pioneering the approach of how to deal with these businesses, which are all over SF now. People running them seem often to be affiliated.

SFPD staffing – After years of retirements and low staffing after the recession, mayor/supervisors are really cranking through academy classes now – promised 3/year but doing 6 this year. Should be back up to full staffing (1971 officers) down the road. Police force is very young right now.

If you have an issue where you need to tell the police about your neighbors, they will work with you to make sure you are not identified as being the person who informed.

Question about Shotwell stairs in Bernal – cameras capturing illegal activity (drug drops, etc).

Question about parks – Officer Hauscarriage (former night watch) is now on parks duty.

PHOTO: Telstar Logistics

One Year After Alex Nieto’s Death, Bernal Family Is Transformed by Tragedy

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One year ago, on March 21, 2014, Bernal neighbor Alex Nieto was killed in an officer-involved shooting on Bernal Hill.

Several times during the last few months — and as recently as just last week — I have seen Alex’s parents, Elvira and Refugio Nieto, walking along the sidewalks not far from their home on Cortland. There’s nothing particularly unusual about the affect of Neighbor Alex’s parents as they walk the streets of Bernal Heights. Yet while opinions may differ on the sequence of events that transpired on the evening Alex died, there can be no doubt whatsoever about the anguish they feel after having lost their son — and that comes to the forefront for me every time I see them.

It is heartbreaking.

Mission Local captures the Nieto family’s new reality:

About to retire from her long career as a housekeeper in a downtown hotel, Bernal Heights resident Elvira Nieto looked forward to her retirement. She and her husband, Refugio, had plans to surprise their son with a trip to the town of Tarimoro, in Guanajuato, Mexico, their shared birthplace.

But then on the evening of March 21, 2014, that son, Alejandro “Alex” Nieto, died during an officer-involved shooting in Bernal Heights Park. Neighborhood and police versions of the story conflict radically, but what’s painfully clear is that the Nieto family’s course has changed drastically.

Rather than ease into retirement, Elvira and Refugio Nieto have a new job—they’ve become full-time activists against police violence. Today marks the one-year anniversary of their son’s death and, for them, the work is far from over.

“[Alex] would ask me, ‘What are your plans for when you retire?’ I told him the only plan is to rest, but instead this happened,” said Elvira Nieto this week. “It’s all that we’ve done. I never imagined that this is what we’d be doing.”

There is a crowdfunding effort underway by Neighbor Alex’s family and friends to support the Alex Nieto Memorial Fund and create a memorial bench for him on Bernal Hill.

IMAGE: Top, Video still of Bernal neighbors Elvira and Refugio Nieto, parents of Alex Nieto, on Bernal Hill, December 16, 2014

Cara and Joey Just Got Married on Bernal Hill

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Okay, so we now know that Bernal Heights is for [all kinds of] lovers.  But rest assured: Not everyone who expresses their affections on Bernal Hill is batshit crazy.

Neighbor Abner from Alabama Street shares some lovely news about a romantic wedding that took place on Bernal Hill last weekend:

Cara is my sister-in-law, and her long time beau is Joey.  They lived in Bernal for most of the last 5 years, and the couple were married in a lovely, fairly impromptu wedding on the hill last Saturday.  As of last week, they’ve relocated to LA for a job opportunity, but they wanted to finally tie the knot — after a long engagement— with family and the great community they built here.

There was a raucous party at our place afterwards.

Big congrats and best wishes to the happy couple, and never forget

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PHOTO: The wedding of Cara and Joey on Bernal Hill, via Neighbor Abner

Cupid Blamed for Weird Car Crash on Bernal Summit

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Ah, the things we do for love.

You no doubt recall that weird incident earlier this week which saw a car crash into a guard rail near the summit of Bernal Hill beyond the access road gate. And then, of course, the driver of the vehicle declared he was Steve Jobs.

Well it turns out the whole thing was a romantic interlude that went horribly, terribly, insanely, stupidly wrong. So someone at SFPD’ Ingleside station had a lot of fun writing it up in the station’s normally staid crime newsletter:

Incident Date:
Monday, March 16th, 2015

Arrests:
7:20am  Bernal Heights/Anderson Vandalism
The third time was not a charm for two young lovers who wanted to park in a spot with a view of the City. The man and woman decided to consummate their feelings by the Bernal Heights radio tower. However, the road to the tower is protected by a gate thwarting their amorous plans, but only for a short minute. The lovers decided that no gate was going to prevent a wonderful morning so the two, in their Honda Civic, rammed the gate to gain entrance. But the gate didn’t break. So, they backed up and hit the gate a second time and again the gate held tight. The third time, they backed up even farther, and successfully broke open the gate, before speeding up the access road to the top of the hill. All the noise alerted nearby residents and dog walkers who promptly called police. Ingleside Officers Wong and Chang responded and found the couple, and their severely damaged Honda, parked near the radio towers. Both were put in custody and the driver, who didn’t have a valid California license or insurance, was booked for trespassing, vandalism, malicious mischief, and other charges. Report number: 150233507

Further proof: Bernal Heights is for lovers.

PHOTO: Car crashed on Bernal Hill, March 16, 2015, by Neighbor Devon