Here's the latest in SF food news. In this edition: a historic Chinatown restaurant gets another shot at life, a popular food truck prepares to debut its first brick-and-mortar restaurant, and a 20-year-old FiDi deli closes down.
Empress by Boon (838 Grant Ave.)
Empress of China was once known for both its stunning city views and its legacy of high-rolling celebrity guests. But after deteriorating in recent decades, the historic Chinatown restaurant shut down in 2014, and has sat vacant ever since.
Now, the space is getting a second chance. According to the Chronicle, it's being taken over by chef Ho Chee Boon, formerly the international executive chef for tony Cantonese chain Hakkasan (which has a San Francisco outpost on Kearny Street) and its Michelin-starred sibling Yauatcha.
The 7,500-square-foot restaurant will offer "modern Cantonese" cuisine focused on “the integrity of ingredients,” and featuring organic produce from the restaurant's own farm in Gilroy. Dim sum is likely to be on the menu, and some elements of Empress of China's decor will remain, including the original wooden pergola (set to become a new bar and lounge).
“As a native of San Francisco’s Chinatown, I was eager to bring a world-class Asian dining establishment to this community while spearheading efforts to reestablish a thriving culinary scene in this historic neighborhood,” said John Yee, who bought the building that houses Empress of China in 2017 for $17 million.
The opening date for Empress by Boon is currently listed as "early 2020." Stay tuned for updates.
Señor Sisig (990 Valencia St.)
Hit food truck Señor Sisig has announced the opening date of its first brick-and-mortar location at 21st and Valencia streets, in the former home of Blue Fig. It will officially debut on November 7.
Like the original truck, the Señor Sisig restaurant will serve Filipino-Mexican fusion fare, including burritos, "nacho-rrones" (nachos with a base of housemade chicharrones) and the "Sisig crunchwrap" (pork, chicken, or tofu on a crispy tostada with cheese, pico de gallo, lettuce, sour cream, and guacamole, all wrapped in a griddled tortilla and served with a side of spicy nacho cheese).
The new space will also have a soft-serve machine, with an ube horchata flavor made in collaboration with Annabelle Topacio of Dogpatch's Mr. and Mrs. Miscellaneous.
For drinks, fresh-squeezed calamansi juice and iced green tea will be served alongside beers from Woods Beer Co., Fort Point Beer Co. and Filipino favorite San Miguel.
“We spent years looking at different locations, but nothing ever felt quite right,” said CEO Evan Kidera in a statement. “Then this spot opened up, with its parklet and patio combination — which is rare on a street like Valencia — and we knew it was the place for us."
Señor Sisig will be open daily from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Lee's Deli (235 Montgomery St.)
Tipster Charles C. alerted us that Lee’s Deli is closing its 235 Montgomery St. location today, after 20 years of business.
“It’s been a pleasure getting to know many of you personally," the business noted in a sign on its door. "We will miss this location."
If you're still craving Lee's dim sum, salads and sandwiches, the deli's other locations (75 Battery St., 615 Market St., and 550 California St.) will remain open.
Thanks to tipsters Charles C. and Al M.! If you've seen something new (or closing) in the neighborhood, text your tips and photos to (415) 200-3233, or email [email protected] If we use your info in a story, we'll give you credit.