Chef Brandon Jew has been slowly but surely building his empire, first with Michelin-starred Mister Jiu’s, and more recently with the opening of Moongate Lounge, an upstairs cocktail bar with dim sum. Next, he’s branching out into a more casual zone with Mamahuhu, a restaurant focused on Chinese-American classics.
Mamahuhu first came into existence in 2018, when Jew collaborated on a pop-up with delivery service Caviar and Anmao Sun and Ben Moore of Shanghai’s restaurant and market Hunter Gatherer (they’re still involved in the project). At the time, Jew framed the one-weekend-only pop-up as the precursor to a permanent restaurant. And after over a year, that plan is coming to fruition in the Inner Richmond at 517 Clement Street in a former 1,980-square-foot Asian market (101 Super Mart).
The restaurants name means “so-so,” which Jew has said is a “tongue-in-cheek name to express the feeling that super high-quality food ought to also be “fast, lighthearted and fun.” And, unlike Mister Jiu’s, Mamahuhu will be available for delivery, serving Chinese-American cuisine via counter-service, take-out, or delivery.
Jew said he wants to recreate dishes found on the menus of traditional Chinese-American spots like sweet and sour pork, or beef and broccoli using the same purveyors who provide the produce and proteins for Mister Jiu’s Michelin-starred dishes.
“Having a restaurant in Chinatown, the birthplace of Chinese-American food, I’ve gotten a lot of inspiration on how those dishes came to be,” says Jew. “There has already been a lot of thought behind how to bring these flavors together, so ultimately we’re just working on how to best express these very classic Chinese-American dishes.”
The neighborhood, which is known for its high concentration of Asian-owned businesses, has been Jew’s home for over a decade. “The food is a big part of why I’ve loved living there,” says Jew, who lives in the house that was once his grandparents’. “I’ve loved seeing the Richmond grow. On our days off, we don’t really leave the neighborhood.”
Architecture firm Studio BBA, also responsible for much of Jew’s other restaurants’ design, will be behind the project. Construction hasn’t even begun yet; Jew and his team are aiming for end of 2019 or beyond.