We briefly mentioned Nojo a bit ago, and now things are moving quickly at the soon-to-be Hayes Valley California-Japanese restaurant. Chef-owner Greg Dunmore -- who was dubbed a Rising Star chef by the Chronicle during his time as executive chef at Hiro Sone's Ame -- is building his concept around the Japanese notion of kiku bari, putting care and attention into every detail from entrance to exit. He's hired a talented staff, all of whom will cook, serve and host at some point -- a very Japanese style of service that's almost unheard of in the U.S. Dunmore describes the cuisine as California fare with a strong Japanese bent. The menu will be divided into yakitori & kushiyaki (skewers) and izakaya sections with almost all items (except soy sauce and sake) sourced locally. Allied Architecture is making the most of Dunmore's 1500-square-foot space with earth tones and an industrial feel, accented with pops of bright color and the anime-inspired artwork of local artist Kevin Tiell, viewable in the gallery above.
Some projected menu items as of today: pickled avocado with nori and shichimi, pan-fried gyozo with Yoko's miso and sesame sauce and a refined version of nikujaga, a traditional Japanese-style pot roast Dunmore will prepare with beef cheeks. Humphrey Slocombe will make Japanese-inspired ice cream flavors for the menu and there's a "very well known" pastry chef that will consult on the desserts whose name couldn't be released as of yet. Dunmore has chosen the sake and three local beers to be served on tap, exemplifying the richly flavored style of Japanese lagers he loves. Lunch and Sunday brunch will be added further down the line, although it won't be a traditional-style Japanese breakfast. "I want this to be a comfortable, approachable neighborhood place," says Dunmore. Look for Nojo to open March 30th on Franklin Street, right next to the new Grove and forthcoming Lers Ros 2.0 in Hayes Valley.