If there was ever an indication that the Tenderloin is cleaning up a bit, then the installation of a Japanese bathhouse is it. Come Friday, November 11, Onsen is opening in the neighborhood, bringing a full-blown, 3,200-square-foot Japanese bathhouse with a soaking pool and treatment rooms to the center of the city. For Eater readers, though, the most exciting part is the inclusion of a restaurant and tearoom with seasonal Japanese food, a sake and craft beer program, and tea service.
Chef George Meza is in charge of all that, joining from Oro and Ame. He’s focusing on seasonally-driven, Japanese-inspired fare, with dishes like rice porridge with housemade kimchi, miso, and pickled quail egg; maitake dumplings with cabbage, sweet yam, mushroom broth, and dill; a daily sashimi offering; and a selection of skewers.
The restaurant, located at the front of the space that was a former auto-body shop, is open to both the public and bathhouse guests. It will start with dinner, adding lunch in early December for the 25 seats. Drinks will focus on sakes, including local maker Sequoia, limited craft beer, and some wine.
Since it’s in a bathhouse, owners (and husband and wife) Sunny Simmons and Caroline Smith want it to be a very tranquil space, which is evidenced by the plants a light wood throughout. As for the rest of the bathhouse, there will be six treatment rooms, an eight-person hot soaking pool, and a communal bathing area that includes a dry sauna, steam room, and an artful cold plunge shower installation.
When it debuts on November 11, Onsen will be open six days a week, with bathing suit-optional soaking days for women (Monday and Thursday) and men (Wednesday), as well as bathing suit-required coed days on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.