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New taste of mom’s cooking you can enjoy in a home-made café

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by Eri Shimizu Editing: Elli Sekine

Lately, the Mission District is gathering a lot of attention as a typical fashionable back street of San Francisco, and also as an icon of street arts and gourmet foods. The area used to be lacking inpublic safety, but now has transformed into an area where many young Silicon Valley Tech people and artists like to live, and trendy people are attracted to. As for the dining scene of the area, organic restaurants, high-end sushi restaurants, Mexican restaurants, unique bars, etc., are mingled together in the area, creating the epitome of San Francisco as the multi-cultural city. “Bon Nene” opened its door in this hot area last year with an appearance of a typical back street café of Paris. Its homey appearance with a warm woodsy feel is filled with the passion of the owner. The name, Bon Nene (meaning cute Nene in French), was taken from her beloved dog, Nene, with the hopes that the restaurant would be loved by the local people.

The owner, Ms. Yumi Furuta had a dream of serving the kinds of foods she wants to eat herself, which led her to open this restaurant. The restaurant has an appearance like a French bistro or a café, but on the menu, there are Japanese home-cooking style dishes such as “Hijiki Salad“, ($12), “Natto Gohan” ($8), P-man Itame (pan-fried green pepper)” ($13), etc. The concept of this restaurant is “simple home-cooking”. The “Nene Potstickers”, hand-made signature dishes (original $9, vegetarian $8) which contain ground pork and nappa cabbage or various types of mushrooms in the vegetarian version, have an aromatic crispy layer on top called ha-ne. Ms Furuta says, “Gyoza (potstickeres) is my favorite repertoire, and I like customers to experience the good taste of hand-made home cooking.” The regulars love the “Champignon Pasta” ($13) which consists of thick noodles and nori (cut dried seaweed) as the topping. This sentimental tasting Japanese style pasta dish somewhat reminds you of home. The “Beef Curry” ($13.50) is a typical Japanese home-made curry with big chunks of potatoes and carrots inside. You rarely see restaurants who serve such home cooking in the Bay Area, and it seems that young foodies who are interested in and understand traditional Japanese cuisine find a rarity value in this restaurant.
The weekend-only menu, “Japanese Chosyoku Breakfast”, which started in May was realized by the request from the regulars. This is a typical Japanese ichiju-sansei style (one soup and three vegetable dishes) set breakfast menu that consists of broiled fish, eggs, small vegetable dishes, home-made pickles, and miso soup. There is another typical Japanese style breakfast item (known as the “Morning set” amongst Japanese) which consists of a thick-cut slice of toast served with red bean jam, a sunny-side up egg, and salad. The popular drink is the home-made ginger ale ($4.50). This home-made drink with fresh ginger and spices has a mature taste. The only Japanese sake they carry is the non-filtered unpasteurised Kakeya Junmai ginjo in a stylish bottle. As for the selection of beers, there are the following: Frozen Beer that creates very fine bubbles ($7), Sapporo Draft ($7), and Kawabe wheat and amber bottled beers ($9).

Ms. Furuta told me that she had an eye on this area for her own restaurant for a while. She used to come to this favorite area on her days off often to visit nearby restaurants and cafés. During that time, she came across a space for the current restaurant. The small space of about 1,000 sqft seemed ideal to create a homey ambience. Everything from the interior, dishes, to the menu book is well-crafted. She made curtains and cloth napkins herself, and the uniquely shaped menu book was made by an architect friend from carved wood. Originally, Ms. Furuta came to the US to enter a school of photography. She is using the interior walls as the exhibition spaces, and changes the artwork every 2 weeks to support young artists.

I asked Ms. Furuta which area she found most difficult as a first-time restaurateur. She said that the training for the kitchen staff was the most challenging part. Most of the staff had near-zero experience in working for Japanese restaurants, and they were not familiar with Japanese cuisine. She had to teach them the real basics such as how to make dashi, how to prepare rice for cooking, etc. To replicate the Japanese tastes we are so familiar with was entirely a first experience for them. Even now, she still cooks hijiki for the Hijiki Salad herself. However, the number of customers is gradually increasing. She says, “I would like to keep evolving the menu to respond to the growing customers’ needs.” I truly wish for the success of the future growth of this restaurant, and hope that Japanese home-cooking will take root in the US food culture.


手作りカフェで味わう新おふくろの味

近年おしゃれな裏通りの代表、ストリートアート、グルメのアイコンとして注目されるミッション地区。以前は治安が悪いエリアだったが、現在ではシリコンバレーのテック企業に勤める若者やアーティストなどが多く住み、流行に敏感な人々を惹きつける地域へと変貌を遂げた。ダイニングシーンにおいても、オーガニックレストランや高級寿司店、メキシカンレストラン、個性的なバーなどが混在し、まさに多文化シティサンフランシスコの縮図のようなエリアだ。そのホットなエリアに去年登場したのがパリの路地裏カフェを思わせる店構えの「Bon nene」だ。木の温もりを感じるアットホームな店にはオーナーのこだわりが詰まっている。店名の「Bon」はフランス語で「可愛い」という意味。「nene」はオーナーの愛犬の名前。地元に愛される店にしたいとの思いで付けられた。

オーナーの古田みゆ氏は長年サンフランシスコのフレンチビストロでフロアマネージャーを務めていたが、自分が食べたい料理を出したいという夢を抱き、この店をオープンした。一見、フレンチビストロかカフェのようだが、メニューには「hijiki salad」($12) や「nattogohan 」($8)、「p-man itame」($13) など日本の家庭の味が並ぶ。同店のコンセプトは「シンプルな母の味」。看板料理の焼き餃子「nene potsticker」(original$9, vegetarian $8) は手作りで、豚ひき肉と白菜、ベジタリアンメニューでは数種のきのこを使っており、パリパリとした「羽根」が香ばしい。「餃子は得意料理なので、手作りの美味しさを楽しんで欲しい」と古田氏。常連客に人気なのは椎茸やしめじ、エノキなどをたっぷり使った「champignion pasta」($13)で、太めの麺に海苔がトッピングされた、どこか懐かしい味わいの和風パスタだ。

「beef curry」($13.5) は大きめにカットされたジャガイモや人参が入ったホームスタイルカレーだ。ベイエリアでこのような家庭料理を出す店は少なく、伝統的な和食への興味と理解を持つフーディーな若者が同店の希少価値を見出しているようだ。

5 月から始めた週末のみの和朝食「japanese chosyoku breakfast」は、常連客からのリクエストにより実現した。朝ごはんの定番、焼き魚に卵、野菜小鉢、自家製の漬物に味噌汁の一汁三菜がセットになっている。他には厚切りトーストに小豆ジャム、目玉焼きやサラダなどがワンプレートになった日本の「モーニング」の定番がある。ドリンクで人気なのは自家製のジンジャーエール($4.5)。フレッシュの生姜にスパイスが効いた大人の味だ。日本酒はスタイリッシュなボトルの無濾過生原酒KAKEYA 純米吟醸一種のみ。ビールはきめ細かい泡のフローズンビアー($7) やサッポロドラフト($7)、ボトルではKawabe Beer のWheat とAmber($9) を揃えている。

古田氏は自分の店を出すならこのエリアとまず決めていたという。近隣のレストランやカフェが好きで休日にはよく通っていた。そんな中、出会ったのが現在の物件だ。1,000 スクエアフィートほどの小さなスペースは家庭的な雰囲気を出すには理想的だった。インテリアから器、メニューブックまでクラフト感溢れる。カーテンや布ナプキンは自ら手作りし、ユニークな形のメニューブックは友人の建築家に頼んで木材削って作ってもらった。もともと古田氏の渡米のきっかけが写真学校への留学だった経歴から、店内の壁を展示スペースとして提供し、2週間ごとに異なるアート作品を展示し若手アーティストを支援している。

古田氏に初のレストラン経営での苦労を尋ねると、キッチンスタッフのトレーニングが一番の挑戦だという。働いているスタッフは、ほとんど和食レストランでの経験がなく、日本食にも馴染みがなかったため、出汁の取り方、米の研ぎ方など基本から教えなければならない。日本人なら食べ慣れた味の再現も、彼らには全くの初体験となる。今でも人気のひじきサラダはオーナー自らが仕込んだりと苦労も多いが、訪れる常連客は徐々に増えている。「そんな彼らの期待に応え、今後メニューも進化させていきたい」と古田氏。まだオープンしたばかりの同店の今後の成長と、日本の家庭料理がこれから定着することを期待したい。

Bon nene
2850 21st street, san francisco, california
(415) 872-9332
https://www.bonnene.com/
Lunch:Tuesday – Friday 11:30am– 2:00pm
Saturday – Sunday 10am – 2:30pm
Dinner :Tuesday – Saturday 6:00pm – 9:30pm
#alljapannews #sanfrancisco #Japanese #curry #cafe #bobnene #morning

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