Chika-Moving to San Mateo
Chika is open for dinner these days but will move to San Mateo soon. I believe that their last day of business in SF will be 8/11.
841 Irving Street @10th
Chika Restaurant at 3rd and Ellsworth had a grand opening over the weekend. Place was almost full. They have a wide variety of appetizers, grilled items, deep-fried items, noodles (soba, udon, pasta) and sashimi. Place has a feel that sorta resembles Himawari and the old Den on B Street.
We liked the creamy croquettes, meaty mushroom salad and soba. Tokyo-style soba broth was excellent and I drank it all up. We also had chicken yakitori which was good and ikura oroshi which was ok but somewhat overpriced IMO. I had a bottle of Asahi Black beer which I've never seen before. Dessert was chocolate parfait with banana and tangerine slices. There were some breakfast cereal (Honey Bunch of Oats?) pieces in the bottom which I understand is commonly done in Japan. Service was uneven - maybe it's just opening weekend glitches. Servers were Japanese. A bit unusual to see tabasco sauce on the table in a Japanese restaurant. We saw a non-Asian diner sprinkle some tabasco on his tempura and eat it with his hands. Most of the diners were Asian.
We had a good impression of Chika and would go back to try other dishes. We had not gone to their previous SF location.
Just had dinner @ the newly openned Chika. To all of us at the table, it seemd quite apparent that neither the kitchen nor wait staff at Chika Restaurant are ready to handle this larger space/crowd. This space must be almost four times larger than the previuos location in SF. Sorry to say, the service was horrendously slow. It took an average of about 20 minutes for any dish to be served, even the simplest ones as coffee, to be served! Furthermore, not once did the manager or wait staff apologize for the slow kitchen.
I noted several things here tonight, a Friday night:
1. Upper floor reserved for a party, the lower floor quite full since service was so slow. I did not see any turnaround in tables in over two hours. There were several people I knew also dining at the restaurant, all of who complained about the slow service. Looking around, there was not much food out on the tables. Most were waiting for more food to come out. Perhaps, the kitchen was not expecting such a turnout on a Friday night.
2. In general, the food was quite good when it finally came.
Roast Beef: Way overpriced at $9 for 7 thin slices of roast beef.
Potato Salad: Come on now?! $7 for a fist size amount of potato salad? It comes out to about $1.50 per tablespoon!
Cream Croquettes: Very creamy, yummy croquettes! Would have it again. Same goes for the gratin which was equally creamy and tasty, just like in Japan.
Pastas: All Japanese style pastas were nice...the Kinoko Mushroom pasta (add a touch of tabasco!), Japanese napolitan sauce pasta, and garlic pasta. Wolfy sm, I believe the tabasco is for the pasta or gratins or any other of the western style dishes!
Hayashi Rice: Delicous with a nice hearty meaty sauce with nice hint of red wine in the sauce.
Tempura Soba: Didn't try it but one in our group said the tempura was very good, soba just so-so.
Chocolate parfait...nothing special at all...just a chocolate sundae w/whipped cream, banana and strawberry slices. The one we had did not have any corn flakes which is very common in Japan.
3. They ran out of rice! How can you run out of rice at a Japanese restaurant?!!
4. Flipped the "Closed" sign at around 9:30pm (perhaps when they realized that they were out of rice?), only to flip it back about 30 minutes later to allow a few late diners in. By then, the main floor was quite empty. They are open until 11:30pm on FRI nights.
I won't be back for a while until they can figure out the proper kitchen pace/staffing. It's a shame, because the food is actually pretty good. I felt that some of the items are definintely overpriced. I am told to go there for their lunch special, which is reasonably priced ($10) for a course menu.
Oops, the Roast Beef was $12 for 7 thin, 3" small slices. Also, forgot to note the kurobuta tonkatsu, which was very nice. I'd order the tonkatsu again.