Fishy Love: Neighbors Tim and Erin Archuleta from Ichi Sushi Recall How It All Began


If you were paying attention to all the local “Best of 2014″ restaurant lists floating around the Interwebs over the Xmas/New Years holiday, you may have noticed that Bernal’s own Ichi Sushi + Ni Bar appeared on just about all of them.

Seriously. It got so intense that your Bernalwood editor joked that I needed to create a Best Of list to keep track of all the Best Of lists that included Ichi Sushi. It was funny because it was true.

I never did create that list, but the accolades are well deserved. Ichi really is the schizz. And it’s a great story about local kids who made good, because, Ichi got its start in Bernal Heights, and the tag-team duo of Chef Tim Archuleta and his wife Erin Archuleta are still Bernal neighbors, to this day.

Last week, in an interview with OpenTable, Neighbor Tim and Neighbor Erin recalled how it all began… in the days before the restaurant, and all the Best of Lists, and all the Best of Best of Lists:

How did you two meet?

Tim: We met at a friend’s birthday at a karaoke bar. It was my karaoke and dance skills that blew her away.

Well before you opened ICHI you worked together in a couple of different food businesses. Tell me about that and how you got started.

Erin: Tim really started as a caterer in 2006, but we met in 2005. We were already living together (racy!) when he started catering, which meant that I would pitch in from time to time as he built the brand.

Tim: In the beginning it was just me. Erin gave me a lot of support. But that’s how we came up with the name, because ICHI means one and it was just me.

Erin: The catering really took off. I had consistently worked for a literacy nonprofit locally at 826 Valencia and 826 National, and I stepped away from my work full-time and just worked as a consultant for them so that I could help Tim get the catering business off the ground. We built out a catering kitchen and went to town in that direction, and then the stock market crashed. We began social catering and doing pop-ups in bars that had kitchens. That’s how a lot of people encountered us — we catered all sorts of things.

One day I was walking down Cortland and saw a food incubator space that was looking for tenants, and Tim had the idea of doing a Japanese deli. So we did that in the incubator space, and we loved it. During that time, right next to where we live Yo’s Sushi Club was leaving and he offered us the opportunity to take over the restaurant. Tim opened ICHI Sushi in 2010.

And the rest, as they say, is Best of History…

PHOTO: Tim and Erin Archuleta of Ichi Sushi

Here Is Your Schedule for Beer Week 2015 at Rock Bar, Starting TONIGHT


Brion Rosch is the manager of the fashionable Rock Bar on 29th at Tiffany in La Lengua. He’s laid out an ambitious agenda for Beer Week 2015, San Francisco’s citywide celebration of suds, so Brion is here to tell the Citizens of Bernalwood what your week will taste like:

Rock Bar is gearing up for Beer Week. A Beer-Forward Cocktail menu is in the works, and several Tap Take-Overs are planned.

Opening with beers from North Coast Brewing, following with a common man’s flight of PBR, Olympia and Schlitz and a healthy fill of Death Metal, with a lil Speakeasy and Henhouse Brewing of Petaluma in between; you’re sure to enjoy a rotating cast of characters. On Friday the 13th Let’s Get Weird returns with a set of wah wah pedals and microphones for an evening of SHOUT OUT’s – “Hey Big Daddy, where my IPA’s at?!” Join in and give a shout out to your friend Todd in Jersey who likes his Lager crisp. Valentines Day offers chocolate covered strawberries and house cured meats from The Front Porch alongside Hopped Saison’s, Imperial Stout’s, and Cask offerings. Finish your long Beer Week with a relaxing afternoon with Speakeasy, we will have 15 minute chair massages available for brewer’s the city over… Details all on the website,

What: SF BEER WEEK at Rock Bar
Where: Rock Bar 80 29th Street
When: Feb 6th-15th 2015

We plan to release a BEER centered Cocktail Menu during the duration of Beer Week – Enjoy the return of The Donkey Show; Reposado Tequila, Pear Liqueur, Allspice, CRISPIN cider, mole

Friday and Saturday Feb 6th / 7th
North Coast Tap TAKE OVER

Monday Feb 9th
The Common Man Flight;
Served with a healthy dose of Death Metal

Wednesday / Thurs Feb 11th / 12th
Oskar Blues Tap TAKE OVER


With Hen House & Speakeasy
Enjoy chocolate covered strawberries and house cured meats alongside a Flight from each brewery
Finish your date with the return of Noche Romantica as Jose Y Jose return with ballads, rancheras, cumbias, romanticas and rock n roll

Sunday Feb 15th
A Lazy Afternoon with Speakeasy 1pm-5pm
15 minute chair massages offered

PHOTO: Beer drinks at Rock Bar, via Rock Bar

The Michael Bauer Bestoweth 2.5 Stars Upon Hillside Supper Club


The Michael Bauer, His Eminence Restaurant Critic from the San Francisco Chronicle, returned to Hillside Supper Club on Precita Park recently to take the menu for a test drive. And lo, The Bauer was pleased:

Using the moniker Supper Club isn’t an exaggeration because Hillside feels like a neighborhood gathering place. That feeling was evident even when I returned for a regular meal several nights after the anniversary dinner. What I found was that in the year since I first reviewed the restaurant, the service has become more professional and the kitchen has found more consistency.

The small menu includes eight appetizers, four main courses and three or four specials printed on a blackboard above the open kitchen. The specials may include more unusual items than the ones on the regular menu, such as escargot and foie gras. These live in stark contrast to the homey Nonna’s meatballs ($9) in a sweet tomato sauce, accompanied by a chunk of focaccia.

Other starters include squid ink ravioli stuffed with Dungeness crab ($14), where the two ravioli in a brown butter glaze are set on puddles of avocado puree with celery root, poppy seeds and herbs; it’s a pleasant blend that works together well.

The kitchen’s more refined side is evident on the white anchovies ($12) crisscrossed like a checkerboard, with dollops of lemon puree and a scattering of orange segments, herbs and puffed amaranth. Duck liver mousse ($9), a menu mainstay, is served in a glass canning jar with a glaze of huckleberry gelee, a sweet contrast to the whole-grain mustard, cornichons and grilled bread served alongside.

Main courses include exceptional pot pies, with a buttery crust that clings to the side of a cast-iron skillet. One time it was filled with rabbit, another time venison ($24), its gaminess partly quelled by juniper in the veloute, along with Brussels sprouts and caramelized chunks of salsify.

The Bauer’s final rating: 2.5 stars. Yesssssss!

In other news, Hillside chef Tony Ferrari tells Bernalwood that the Change of Ownership sign in the window is no big thing; Tony and Chef Jonathan Sutton merely reorganized themselves into an LLC partnership. Bon appetit!

PHOTO: John Storey for San Francisco Chronicle



Fabulous 331 Cortland Getting an Indoor Seating Upgrade

331 Cortland

Are you sitting down right now? Because as you read this, the fabulous food marketplace at 331 Cortland is getting a major upgrade, in the form of an indoor seating area. It’s also getting a new mission statement. 331 Cortland owner Debra Resnik brings the tell:

What: 331 Cortland Marketplace remodel to result in 10 seats at the formerly seatless kiosk shop.
When: Shops close for remodel Feb. 1-5 and reopen Feb. 6 with new daily opening hour of 8 a.m.
Who: Anda Piroshki, Paulie’s Pickling, and Mae Krua food kiosks
Why: To give customers exactly what they’ve asked for.

Visitors to the “three shops in one” at 331 Cortland in San Francisco’s Bernal Heights neighborhood pretty much all say the same thing: “This place is amazing!” They also ask the same question: “Is there anywhere to sit?” The shop is pleased to announce that the answer is about to change to “Yes.”

In a total redefinition of purpose, the storefront is set to transform itself from small-business incubator into microcafé. Although the incubator model has been spectacularly successful, launching Ichi Sushi and Bernal Cutlery into their own storefronts (and other businesses into wholesale and retail,) property owner and in-house theoretician Debra Resnik has worked hard to give customers what they want: seating. Resnik and 331 Cortland residents Anda Piroshki, Paulie’s Pickling, and Mae Krua Thai food are excited about the forthcoming seating and remodel: Kiosk chefs Anna Tvelova, Liz Ashby, and Anucha Kongthavorn hint at expanded menus in the near future, thanks to the improved space. Paulie’s will continue to carry favorite retail items from 331 alum and friends in the new configuration as well — including Suite Foods waffles.

Locals Paul Ashby of Paulie’s Pickling and recent Russian transplant and Anda Piroshki cook Roman Ugrimov will do the construction, while a bittersweet note comes from the decision of waffle shop Suite Foods to change focus to wholesale and catering work. Their presence in the shop will be missed. However, Deb and the team look forward to giving customers from Bernal and beyond exactly what they want: seats!

PHOTO: 331 Cortland time capsule, circa 2011; by Telstar Logistics

Four-Legged Foodies Rejoice: Fancy Pet Food Store Opening on Precita Park


The commercial space on the northwest corner of the Precita/Alabama intersection has seen many transitions in recent years.

That wasn’t always the case; For around 100 years, it was just a typical San Francisco corner store. That changed in 2011, when the corner store closed. Then it became an ill-fated children’s art center and gym, which was followed in by an ill-fated pet grooming shop.

Now the wheel has turned again, and 433 Precita is set to become… a natural pet food store!

The new place is called Jeffrey’s Natural Pet Food, and Bernalwood is told it will offer a mix of house-made and locally produced organic dog and cat cuisine, in all your favorite flavors. Like, for example, Canine Beef, Yams, and Broccoli


… or Feline Turkey and Polenta:


The full menu of Jeffrey’s house-made food is right here.

The About page tells us:

Jeffrey’s Natural Pet Foods is the best source of raw, organic and all natural pet foods, treats, supplies and information in San Francisco. At Jeffrey’s, we make our own locally sourced, fresh, handmade pet foods and treats.

Jeffrey’s Fresh Meat Pet Foods are prepared five days a week, using fresh and locally sourced ingredients. Our food contains only the highest quality ingredients: raw, free range meats free from hormones and antibiotics, fresh organic vegetables, vitamins and minerals. Our food is a great choice for your dog or cat.

The Precita Park outpost will be Jeffrey’s third; the other two are in The Castro and North Beach.

If all goes according to plan, Jeffrey’s Natural Pet Foods will be open this weekend. No word on plans for weekend brunch service; or if they do wedding, bar mitzvah, or quinceañera catering; or if reservations are required for parties of more than six.

Meanwhile, if you listen carefully, you might just hear the sound of a certain change-averse Bernal neighbor‘s head imploding just a few blocks away: “Gourmet organic pet food?  Whaaaaaaaaaat???!”

PHOTOS: Top, Telstar Logistics. Below, Jeffrey’s Natural Pet Foods

Coco Ramen Is Good Ramen We Can Walk To, Anytime


I remember the first time I encountered a bowl of ramen. The year was 1986, and I was sitting in a New England movie theater, watching the opening scene of Tampopo, the wonderful Japanese comedy about the sensual joy of food and the complex art of making an excellent bowl of ramen. This is what I saw:

The scene is a spoof, but it obviously pointed to something very serious, and I knew at that moment that I wanted real Japanese ramen to be part of my life. Even though I was in New England. Even though it was the 1980s, and sushi was still considered a novelty. Somehow, I wanted to have ready access to tasty ramen like the delicious-looking stuff I saw on that movie screen.

It took a few more years until I had the opportunity to actually eat a proper bowl of ramen, and I had to go to Japan to do it. But it was worth the wait. Good ramen is superlative soul food: Delicious, hearty, soothing, and so much more.

Yet Japan is far away, even when you live in San Francisco.

A decade ago, you had to drive waaaaay down to the South Bay to get a good bowl of ramen. More recently, San Francisco has enjoyed something of a ramen boom, as general awareness of the Joy of Ramen has slowly permeated our local food culture. For a while, Katana Ramen, downtown, was the only ramen gig in town. Then, a few more ramen places opened in the Richmond. Then, ramen came to the hipster zones of The Mission, north of 18th Street. Your Bernalwood editor tried most of it, and much of it was pretty good, so that in due course, my ramen cravings could be satisfied with only a short car trip across town. We even had a ramen pop-up for a brief while on Cortland, though it was only available one day a week, and it didn’t last for long.

Yet there has not been a place where I could well and truly live the ramen dream that has beguiled me for these many years: To be able to get a decent bowl of ramen, within convenient walking distance from my home, without too much fuss, pretty much whenever the mood hits me.

Until now.

Coco Ramen opened a few months ago at at 3319 Mission Street, in a former head shop next door to Crazy Sushi, near 29th. Your Bernalwood editor has eaten at Coco Ramen three or four times since then, and I’m here to tell you that it’s it’s a big win for Bernal Heights.

Let’s get the caveats out of the way: No, Coco’s Ramen isn’t the best ramen in San Francisco. Yes, it’s connected to Crazy Sushi, which means the owners and staff are all Chinese. No, they don’t really have much in the way of idiosyncratic regional styles or exotic gourmet ingredients.

None of this is really meant as a ding. San Francisco is currently flush with fancy-schmancy ramen, yet Coco Ramen is simply a very solid neighborhood ramen joint; equivalent to a something a Japanese commuter might be quite content to find near the local train station. Simple. Reliable. Convenient. Affordable. Spiritually rejuvenating.

Here’s a bowl of Coco Ramen’s tonkatsu broth:


The broth is rich, fragrant, and flavorful, which is the most important thing. The noodles are springy and properly cooked. The smoked egg is excellent. The chashu roast pork slices are a weak link, but not terrible. Overall, pretty good!

Coco’s Ramen enjoys a very respectable four-star rating among the crankypants critics on Yelp. One reviewer ate there a few days ago, and he gets it just right:

I’m not a ramen snob but do frequent the good spots like dojo, parlor, santoukas, and orenchi. That said the ramen here is pretty good. They aren’t that fancy but do offer no/regular/black garlic options and have a good assortment of toppings. Their soft boiled egg is great! The braised pork belly is awesome too. One qualm I have is that, seeing as the owners are Chinese, there are clearly some Chinese rather than Japanese flavors, especially in the braised pork belly. It tastes like a traditional Chinese clay pot pork belly (which I love) but seemed a bit of a misfit in the ramen.

The chicken karaage likewise had a Chinese popcorn chicken taste to it.
Price was fine at $11.50 a bowl average.

Overall: 3.5 stars. Rounding down for the odd tastes, but still very delicious!

Boom. Exactly. The ramen at Coco does not disappoint, but the results from the other dishes on the menu can be uneven. The gyoza is quite good. The yakitori not so much. Grilled shishito peppers are meh.

But who cares! The point is, I can now walk out of my front door, and 10 minutes later find myself sitting in a perfectly cozy little ramen joint, ordering a perfectly respectable bowl of ramen, with no driving or airfare required, for lunch or dinner (any day but Tuesdays).


It took three decades for all these pieces to fall into place for me.

But now Coco Ramen is here in Bernal Heights, and my humble dream is fulfilled. Good ramen. In my neighborhood. Pretty much whenever I want.


Monday Night: Come Celebrate Hillside Supper Club’s Second Anniversary


Has it been two years already?  Because it seems like just yesterday that the Hillside Supper Club crew was wandering around the Mission District in pop-up mode, dreaming of one day opening up a restaurant of their very own in Bernal Heights.

They did it, of course — inside the former sad Italian restaurant (and former rowdy hippy biker bar) on the southwest corner of Precita Park.

So on Monday, January 19, Hillside Supper Club is celebrating its second anniversary, and Chef Tony Ferrari writes to say he hopes you’ll drop by after 9:30 to celebrate:

Want to shoot over some details about our second anniversary dinner/party. We’re having a special reservation-only dinner earlier in the evening — but its already sold out.

After dinner is over (I’m guessing around 9-930ish) we will open up to the public and welcome everyone to celebrate the rest of the night with complementary sparking wine, five dollar draft beers, and seven dollar glasses of wine.

We again want to thank all of our friends, family, neighbors, guests, bernal heights, and industry folk for supporting us and allowing us to do what we love most: feeding people. We have come a long way and don’t plan on stopping any time soon. We are honored and grateful to be apart of it all.

We look forward to celebrating with everyone!

PS: Our limited poster was screen printed by hand with Jon Fischer, and we will be giving them out during the night.

Separately (though not surprisingly) none other than The Michael Bauer, eminent food critic for the SF Chronicle, recently revealed that Hillside Supper Club makes some of his favorite pot pies in town.

Your Bernalwood editor is no The Michael Bauer, but I did dine at Hillside Supper Club on Friday night, and I did order the very same venison pot pie described below. So I can indeed confirm: It is extremely delicious: