Partners Tan Truong and chef Geoffrey Lee have earned acclaim (and a Michelin star) for their 12-seat omakase sushi restaurant Ju-Ni, and now hope to do so again by partnering with chef/owner Tommy Cleary on Hina Yakitori, a 14-seat yakitori tasting menu restaurant. At 808 Divisadero Street, a former pizzeria just around the corner from Ju-Ni, Cleary will prepare a 16-course menu of items grilled over white oak Wakayama Kishu Binchotan coals, the highest grade available.
Cleary, a yakitori obsessive, spent two years as grill master at Berkeley destination Ippuku before venturing out on his own with a now-closed Temescal incarnation of Hina Yakitori. He grew up in the Bay Area speaking Japanese with his mother, and was the first foreign-born chef to train at Tokyo yakitori temple Tori+Salon under celebrated chef Kazuo Nakayama, working 16 hour shifts during a yearlong apprenticeship.
In San Francisco, the new Hina (which means baby bird) will be smaller than it was in Oakland, with just Cleary and a sous chef at the grill.(Geoffrey Lee will maintain his focus on Ju-Ni.) Each diner at the restaurant will receive half an Emmer & Co. pasture raised heritage chicken, divided out into 12 courses of different chicken parts.
“Each piece will be totally distinct,” says Cleary, seasoned, sauced, and prepared differently. Courses of other items, including wagyu and uni, will be interspersed throughout the menu as well.
Chin, formerly of Gary Danko and now at Ju-Ni, will be Hina’s beverage and service director. At the new restaurant, he’ll focus on wine pairings, with some sake and shochu pairings, too. A price point for the fixed-menu meal hasn’t yet been set, and the restaurant space is currently under construction. The partners hope it will be open in August.
Stay tuned for more as plans for Hina Yakitori progress.