Whether you’re in SF or the 510, here are two places for khao mun gai (Thai chicken and rice), plus deals for SF Restaurant Week, check out the Peruvian tasting menu at JORA, and don’t miss an important (and delicious) Pencils for Kids fundraiser.
Explore Peruvian Ingredients and Unique Dishes in JORA’s Tasting Menu
When was the last time you’ve had Peruvian food? Have you ever tried canchita chulpi, or chicken and cashew soup? At the JORA Peruvian Cuisine (pronounced “hor-ah”) pop-up in SoMa, chef Rodrigo Fernandini offers a seasonal tasting menu that will introduce you to new ingredients and regional dishes, but if you’re a native Peruvian, you'll enjoy his updated spin on the flavors of home.
Fernandini graduated from Le Cordon Bleu in Lima, Perú, and the past ten years has cooked at top local restaurants, including Madera in Menlo Park, Adega (San Jose), Zola (Palo Alto), and Quattro (East Palo Alto). He's taking a break from the grueling hours working in other restaurant kitchens so he can dedicate his time to fine-tune JORA's tasting menu and concept with his business partner for their future restaurant.
He’s especially proud of the leche de tigre in his ceviche con sentimiento, made with mahi mahi, sweet potato, crunchy red onion, Cuzco giant corn, and canchita chulpi (which tastes like corn nuts). It’s truly excellent. And the inchicapi is something special: it’s an Amazonian stew made with chicken stock and cashews (which he smokes and toasts), and he nestles bits of fried chicken, fried yucca, and bacon in the creamy stew, plus pine nut purée and cilantro oil.
While the experience feels a bit steep for $85 (especially when dining in a dark pop-up space with wobbly benches, but at least you have your own table), it’s definitely an abundant five-course menu with a great deal of prep and thought put into it (and a chance to try new and unique ingredients). The timing is also a well-oiled machine, unlike some pop-ups. There have been some recent issues with alcoholic beverages at the venue, and you can’t BYOB, but there's the option of a pairing with non-alcoholic Peruvian drinks for now—they hope the venue has the license sorted out within a month or so. The dinners sell out, so look at the calendar and book your spot on Feastly soon.
A Simple and Affordable Meal at Gai in the Castro
If you’re looking for a simple meal, one that is fulfilling and homey and won’t break the bank, the new khao mun gai spot in the Castro, Gai, should fit the bill. It’s in the former Sofia Cafe, and the menu is focused on just one thing: khao mun gai (Thai slow-poached chicken over chicken fat rice, with a side of chicken broth and sliced cucumbers seasoned with a lightly spicy sesame dressing). It’s a classic dish in Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam, and the three sauces they offer reflect the three locales: the Thai sauce here is made of soy, ginger, and cilantro; in Singapore, it’s called hainan gai, served with a sauce of ginger and spring onions; while in Vietnam at Hoi An, it would be com ga, with a sauce of ginger, citrus, and fish sauce.