Azalina Eusope, the force behind buzzy Market Street food hall outpost Azalina’s and a line of packaged products sold at SF Whole Foods stores, is gearing up to open her first permanent restaurant on June 15. Mahila, as Eusope calls the new business, will serve more of the Malaysian food for which she’s been celebrated, like salted fish curry and mee mamak, a spicy stir-fried noodle dish.
The new location for Eusope is 1320 Castro Street, where Mahila will add a splash of new life to sometimes staid Noe Valley. That spot was previously home to Spanish restaurant Contigo, a local staple whose owners moved to Santa Cruz to open a new business there.
Eusope was born on the island of Penang on the coast of Malaysia, whose food culture combines Chinese, Indian, and Polynesian/Malay influences. She’s a fifth-generation food vendor, and started her business in 2010, opening her fool stall in the Market on Market Street (in the first floor of the Twitter building) in 2015.
There, Eusope’s popular dishes include Malaysian hokkien mee (turmeric noodles with vegetables), fermented pineapple tea salad, gluten-free Mamak fried chicken — and laksa, a lemongrass coconut milk noodle soup. With another Malaysian food entrepreneur, Tracy Goh, fundraising to open a restaurant to celebrate laksa as well, Malaysian noodle soup could see a new wave of representation in San Francisco.
Eusope’s new menu at Mahila will also offer beer and wine, plus drinks like Teh Tarik, a hot pulled milk tea. Products and produce will come from her commercial kitchen in SF’s Bayview, where she operates a 3,200-square foot hydroponic farm, too.
Mahila itself, and its name, represent a coming of age for Eusope: According to the chef, the term means “becoming a woman” and confers leadership authority in the Mamak community. Eusope is growing elsewhere, too: She plans to expand to Uptown Oakland, collaborating on a project called Calabash with chef Nigel Jones (Kingston 11) and Iranian chef Hanif Sadr of the pop-up Komaaj.