Castro Chinese Bistro Hulu Wa Now Open At Long-Troubled 17th Street Space

Castro Chinese Bistro Hulu Wa Now Open At Long-Troubled 17th Street SpacePhoto: Steven Bracco/Hoodline
Steven Bracco
Published on November 22, 2023

The Castro's newest restaurant, Hulu Wa China Bistro, is now open at 3970 17th Street, formerly Niji Sushi and Nash Hot Chicken & Ramen.

Hulu Wa opened last week in the long-troubled space that's seen three different restaurant concepts in the past 18 months.

The restaurant is co-owned Sarah Fu and Dereck Li who also operate Hulu Wa in San Rafael.

Fu tells Hoodline that they took over the space in March, reopening Niji Sushi when it shuttered after just three months.


Hulu Wa is now open at 3970 17th St. |  Photo: Steven Bracco/Hoodline

 

Ultimately, Fu says they decided to close Niji Sushi again after a only few months. Hiring a sushi chef proved difficult and the restaurant just never had enough customers explained Fu.

Fu said they chose the Castro to open another Hulu Wa because of the neighborhood's popularity and close proximity. "The Castro is famous," said Fu.

Fu explained that the restaurant is named after the Hulu gourd which is a good luck symbol along with the Chinese animated TV series Calabash Brothers (Hulu Brothers).  


Hulu Wa's menu. | Photo: Steven Bracco/Hoodline

 

Hulu Wa offers customers a smaller selection of items than what's typically seen at a Chinese restaurant. Fu explained they're offering a limited menu in order to focus on the quality of the food.

Hulu Wa's menu includes dumplings ($10.95), chow mein ($14.95-16.95), wonton soup ($12.95-14.95), broccoli and beef ($18.95), General Tso's chicken ($19.95), string bean tofu ($15.95). Lunch specials are also available.

The liquor license from Niji Sushi has been transferred to Hulu Wa. Drink options include beer, wine, and sake, as well as soda and Thai iced tea.


Hulu Wa's General Tso's Chicken. |  Photo: Steven Bracco/Hoodline

 

Hulu Wa will be open Monday to Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. and on Saturday from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Since the restaurant space was added in 2009 when upstairs nightclub The Cafe expanded, 3970 17th Street has seen a fair amount of turnover.

Tucked away down the street from Jane Warner Plaza, the ground-floor retail space has always struggled to attract foot traffic.


Inside Hulu Wa at 3970 17th St. | Photo: Steven Bracco/Hoodline

 

In the 10 years since opening six different restaurants have called the space home.

Original occupant Pica Pica Maize Kitchen opened in 2013 and lasted just nine months. Replacement Manos Nouveau closed in 2016 after less than two years; it was succeeded by Thai restaurant Me & Tasty, which has been the longest-lived tenant in the space, opening in 2017 and closing nearly five years later.

Last year, Nash Hot Chicken & Ramen moved in and closed after five months. Most recently Niji Sushi opened in September 2022 and closed three months later.