TABLEHOPPING: The Lunar New Year is here, and it's time to feast. Plus: powerhouse pop-ups, sandwich shops rising from the ashes, and more.
What's that galloping sound? It's the Year of the Horse, breaking away Fri/31! In honor of the Lunar New Year, you'll find special menus all over town, with all kinds of symbolic dishes to help ensure you have a year of prosperity, long life, good health, and cash money. If you can get a posse together, head over to M.Y. China (Westfield Centre, 845 Market, Fourth floor, www.mychinasf.com) for its Chinese New Year banquet menu: you can go for the Fisherman's Wharf ($388 for 5 people/ $688 for 10) or the Treasure Island ($488 for 5/ $888 for 10), with dishes like crazy-delicious jasmine tea–smoked sea bass, forbidden rice, and kung pao crab — or stir-fried lobster if you pony up, ha-ha, for the Treasure Island. Available Saturday January 25-Friday February 21.
Every time I dine at Butterfly (Pier 33, SF. www.butterflysf.com) for the Lunar New Year menu, I waddle out of there like a Peking duck. Chef-owner Rob Lam is completely bonkers for crab, so you'll find a menu fully loaded with dishes like crab and fried uni hand rolls (uh huh), crab jook with a sous vide egg (trust, I want this more than once a year), orange chile crab, and more. The menu is $75, tax and tip not included, and runs from January 28 through the month of February.
More on the Vietnamese tip is the Lunar New Year brunch that the Rice Paper Scissors ladies are putting on Saturday February 1 at Brick and Mortar (1710 Mission, SF. www.ricepaperscissors.com). Start your day with steamed buns, pho, claypots, and mooncakes (of course). 11am–3pm, cash only.
The talented team at Delise Dessert Café (327 Bay, SF. www.delisesf.com) annually bake up Peking duck scones in honor of the lunar new year. You can pick some up over the next couple weeks, plus special treats like a black sesame macaron with red bean filling, along with honey-chrysanthemum ice cream and pomegranate oolong sorbet. YES.
BALLIN' ON A BUDGET
Some pop-ups are better deals than others, especially when the cooks know what the hell they're doing. That is definitely the case with Eddie Lau (behind the former Dux pop-up, The Summit, Poleng Lounge, Orson), who is hosting an upcoming dinner with Luis Villavelazquez (Les Éléments Patisserie) called Fortress: Solitude and San Francisco. They'll be taking over 20th Century Café (198 Gough, SF.), a damn cute space in Hayes Valley, on Sunday February 9: take your pick of seatings at 6:30pm or 8:30pm. For $60 (gratuity included), you'll get multiple courses of dishes like Dux poutine, vadouvan curry, and Dungeness on capellini, and there's some tripe and chorizo on there too. Dessert wraps it all up with a black truffle, burnt cinnamon, and cocoa nib number. Plus you can get beverage pairings for $20. Tickets and more info at www.fortress-sf.com.
Comebacks can be so sweet, especially when it's the locally beloved — especially by vegetarians — sandwich establishment, Estela's (250 Fillmore, SF. 415-553-6068), which was displaced by that nasty fire in the Lower Haight in September of 2011. Just like its neighbor, Three Twins Ice Cream, Estela's is back in biz and slinging hefty sammies. Hours are Mon–Thu 7am–5pm and Fri–Sat 7am–4pm.