A bowl of mohinga from Beyond Burma will get you through the winter. (tablehopper.com)
There’s a new Burmese pop-up that will warm your belly (and your heart) in Civic Center, you have three days to enjoy a pre-New Year’s Eve brunch at Liholiho Yacht Club (just be sure to get a reservation!), check out two new Sunday Suppers that won’t break the bank, and a Dominican Christmas feast in Oakland.
A New Nighttime and Weekend Burmese Pop-Up in Civic Center
Some restaurants really come up with clever solutions to open in this challenging city to operate in. Now open on evenings and weekend brunch in the Elmira Rosticceria location in Civic Center is Beyond Burma (Elmira is a weekday lunchtime restaurant). Some folks may recognize the space from past Feastly and other pop-up dinners. The two business partners (Su and Zay Wu) and chef are all Burmese and wanted to offer a menu with a little bit of a creative update on some classic dishes. It’s an extensive menu, one that already has me plotting a second visit so I can taste more. They are very open to feedback and really care about their guests’ experience.
You can get started with salt and pepper calamari ($10), lightly fried with bell pepper and onion — it’s a dish built to pair with their malt beer from Myanmar. A favorite was the Bagan Sunset ($13), a bowl of fat and slippery noodles coated with chicken curry sauce, plus sliced eggs, red onion, and yellow pea powder. The housemade fried noodle chips on top got soggy in the humid, rainy night, but no matter — my friend declared he’d want to eat this dish every day. It was homey and satisfying, and I added some of the hot chile it was served with to dial up the modulated heat of the curry. What a winner.
We tried the new-style tea leaf salad with pomegranate, persimmon, and arugula ($12), but we should have stuck with the original — the arugula couldn’t hold up to all the dressing and was quickly soggy. When they saw how curious we were about the food, the kitchen wanted us to have a taste of the Kyauk Pwint Salad ($9), made with a spongy white fungus flower that looked like delicate loofah. The flavors of this salad were bright and you can order it spicy, but the amount of garlic in it was staggering — I’d ask them to go lighter unless you have a village of vampires to repel.
You know what’s great on a rainy night? A bowl of their rich and satisfying mohinga ($13)! This fish chowder soup isn’t traditionally served with pieces of catfish — it’s ground up to form a thicker, hearty style of soup that coats the rice noodles beautifully, and I detected a little hint of fish sauce in there too. Add in the sliced egg, cilantro, and crunchy split pea crackers, and I couldn’t get enough of the red chile pepper (with crunchy fish) to add on top.
There are numerous main courses and curries to choose from, and we opted for the jumbo prawn with kabocha ($17), with expertly cooked prawns that came in a rich red curry sauce with a pumpkin base. Get some coconut rice (own hta minn) to soak up the sauce.
They have some wines by the glass and bottle, but I’d love to see a wine lover help them diversify their list (for whites, they offer one sauvignon blanc and three chardonnays — someone help ‘em out!).
I have to add that the hospitality here is heart-achingly charming and kind. I mean, come on, they added extra sauce and crunchy chips to my Bagan Sunset leftovers before handing me my bag. We even got hugs. Melt. If you’re catching any holiday shows in the theater district, or want to grab a bite for dinner when you get off at Civic Center BART, here’s a new spot to check out that will make you feel good (and well-fed) for many reasons, even if it isn’t perfect. The upbeat house music they had playing also made me smile: utz utz!
Last year, the ever-busy and popular Liholiho Yacht Club decided to do something fun before taking a break for New Year’s Day: they held a brunch! Anyone who attended remembers it well (and are still talking about the housemade spam and egg bun). This year, Liholiho is doing it again, but for three days this time (December 29–31), and with an all-new menu! Plus there will be a special, secret add-on item. (I’d guess people who follow @liholihoyachtclub will learn something about it, wink.)
Reservations open at midnight on Monday so don’t miss it. Didn’t get a spot? The bar will be open to walk-ins this year as well.
One more item: downstairs in Louie’s Gen-Gen Room, they will be serving a New Year’s Eve happy hour warm-up, with cocktails and bar snacks, plus DJ jams from Sake One. December 29–31, 11am–4pm.
A Dominican Christmas Feast at alaMar Kitchen + Bar in Oakland
The Bay Area is sadly pretty short on Dominican food, but chef Nelson German of alaMar Kitchen + Bar in Uptown Oakland is fixing that, German is Dominican-American, born and bred in uptown Manhattan’s Washington Heights, and he’s hosting a Dominican Christmas feast on Sunday, December 16. He’s preparing quite the spread for the buffet, including pastelitos de queso (cheese empanadas), pernil de puerco (slow-roasted Dominican pork shoulder), pollo guisado (Dominican-style braised chicken), bacalao con maiz y papa (salt cod stew with corn, onions, and Yukon Gold potatoes), yucca asado con cebolla (roasted yucca with pickled onions), platano maduro (sweet plantains), habichuela guisado (Dominican stewed red beans), and of course some arroz blanco (steamed rice).
Come hungry. Just $40 plus $8 gratuity. You’ll also be able to purchase some Dominican-influenced holiday cocktails (bring on the Dominican rum cream!). There will also be live music, and for those who attend the second seating, there will be dancing and a party after!
Can’t make it? Check out alaMar’s monthly Bachata Brunches on second Sundays with a DJ and specials like $1.25 oysters (next one is December 9).
Here’s a surefire way to get rid of any Sunday Scaries: head out for a nice dinner! And not just any dinner. Over at the chic Lord Stanley, they’re hosting a four-course Sunday Supper for the month of December. The prix-fixe menu is $65 (not including beverages, tax, or tip), and there’s the option to add on some additional snacks and supplements. The menu will highlight seasonal ingredients and will consist of a winter vegetable course, a fish course, a meat course, and a dessert. Dietary restrictions are accommodated — just be sure to let them know ahead of time when reserving.
Tosca Cafe in North Beach is also adding Sunday service in the form of Sunday Social Club, a new weekly dinner series featuring a four-course, prix-fixe menu ($45) of Italian-American fare paired with cocktails and live music. Soak in the old school atmosphere and keep Tosca’s bohemian spirit alive while enjoying live vocalists, spanning opera, jazz, and show tunes.
The current menu includes an antipasto of anchovy, olives, peppers, and Tosca focaccia; chicory Caesar salad with pecorino; braised pork coppa with broccoli di ciccio and delicata squash; and for dessert, housemade cannoli. Vegetarian options are available. The menu will change weekly and feature rotating wine pairings (there’s even a $10 wine special offered with the menu), plus you can take 10 percent off bottles of wine from the wine list. San Francisco Opera season ticket holders receive a 10% discount when dining on Sunday night with proof of ticket stub or Opera membership.