It's finally happening: Brandon Jew's long-awaited modern Chinese restaurant, Mister Jiu's, is on track to open in Chinatown on April 12th. Housed in the shuttered yet storied Four Seas space (28 Waverly Pl.), it's aiming to create a new chapter for the community.
"There's a lot of nooks and crannies of Chinatown that are fun to explore," Jew said. "We're hoping this restaurant gets people back to experience this neighborhood."
To start, the restaurant will be open for dinner only from Tuesday through Saturday, but Jew hopes to add lunch later. (Jew, who grew up in the Sunset and is an alum of Bar Agricole, Quince, Zuni Cafe and more, changed the name to "Jiu's" to pay homage to the original spelling of his grandparents' name.)
Brandon and Anna Lee Jew.
Fans of the former Four Seas, with its red and gold decor and rich history, will hardly recognize the place once inside. Boor Bridges Architecture, known for restaurants like Trou Normand and Lord Stanley, has designed a subdued, elegant interior, while managing to work in the original gold chandeliers. Natural wood tones abound in the light-filled 85-seat dining area, which looks out toward the Transamerica Building and into a large open kitchen.
Mister Jiu's kitchen.
View from the dining room.
Between Mister Jiu's, the shiny new Sam Wo and the anticipated China Live food emporium planned for 644 Broadway, there's a move to lure locals from other neighborhoods back to Chinatown to eat. (China Live originally was expected to open last fall, but we were told today they're aiming for fall 2016.)
The neighborhood has numerous restaurants and cafes, but they tend not to cater to more cosmopolitan tastes. Jew aims to change that with impeccable sourcing and execution.
"We're only really doing whole-animal butchery," said Jew, who'll be getting two pigs a week from Heart Arrow Ranch, a biodynamic farm in Mendocino. He's still putting final touches on the menu, but said to look for tea-smoked duck, Chinese barbecue, local seafood and lots of seasonal vegetables. Song Tea will be the tea purveyor.
The former Four Seas interior. (Photo: William B./Yelp)
The five-course menu will be $69; diners will choose a salad or appetizer, soup, vegetable, rice or noodle dish, and meat, fish or seafood dish. Desserts, by acclaimed former Aziza and Mourad pastry chef Melissa Chou, will have a supplemental charge, as will additional courses.
Spiffing up the Waverly Place entrance.
Jew's fellow SF native Danny Louie (Chino, Alembic) is overseeing the bar program, and has developed a cocktail list of eight—a good-luck number in Chinese—with the names Happiness, Joy, Luck, Longevity, Tranquility, Wealth, Wisdom and Prosperity. They reflect the seasons without using herbs or fruits, he told us. Flavors like banana, strawberry, apricot and sour apple will be imparted via the spirits themselves, and he's going to use gold leaf as a garnish, in a nod to the Chinese tradition of giving red envelopes, often with gold accents, for the new year.
The bar area, which seats about 15 and features fish tanks in between the liquor shelves, will have a separate menu. The second floor, on the other hand, isn't quite online yet—plans are still being solidified for it.
Louie, whose late father was once a bartender at Cecilia Chiang's legendary The Mandarin, says the goal is to pioneer the next generation of restaurants in Chinatown, so that the neighborhood can "become a food and drink destination once again."
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