By now, you’ve likely heard about the clear tents erected for outdoor diners at Hashiri, a Michelin-starred, kaiseki-style restaurant in SoMa’s Mint Plaza. The story of the enclosures, which have been monikered “quarantine bubbles,” “sushi domes,” and “igloos” by various publications, has dominated the local food world news cycle since Thursday afternoon, eliciting headlines from almost every local publication that’s still in, well, publication.
With such a bounty of discourse around a set of tables with a tent on top, all that’s left to do is to sift through that conversation for what revelations might be found within those clear, plastic tents. Here’s what you need to know:
- The tents are actually called “garden igloos,” and they cost $1,400 each. The SF Chronicle found a link to the company that makes the structures, which even has a jazzy video about how fun life is beneath a dome! (A quick search shows a variety of similar bubble style things for as little as $90, one should note.)
- They are warm inside, apparently. The tents, which seat four, are “away from everybody, which is nice and it’s warm,” Matsuura tells KRON 4. “I think that’s the biggest thing for dining outside in San Francisco is it’s relatively chilly right now.” As there’s no heating element inside the domes (oh, the humanity), that warmth is presumably coming from the body heat and breath of your fellow diners.
- They’re disinfected and “aired out” after every guest. Other safety protocols, ABC 7 reports, include a basket at each dome’s entrance to keep personal belongings “safe and off the pavement.”
- Hashiri general manager Kenichiro Matsuura says that he’s hopeful the domes’ plastic walls will separate diners from the area’s problems. The restaurant’s location is “not the safest neighborhood,” he tells ABC 7. Speaking to radio station KCBS, he says that just placing tables in the area — which they also tried — didn’t work, as “we had to seclude our guests away from the ongoing activities of Mint Plaza.” The neighborhood’s challenges came up again when he spoke with the Chron, saying then that “Mint Plaza is a phenomenal space, it’s just sometimes the crowd is not too favorable.”
- Those remarks about the area have already ticked some people off. Jennifer Friedenbach, the executive director of support group the Coalition on Homelessness, tells the Chron that it’s “hard to tease out whether the restaurant is responding to legitimate issues or the restaurant is responding to affluent diners who feel guilty about eating expensive meals in the presence of destitute people.”
- Friedenbach isn’t wrong about the price of the meal. Diners in Hashiri’s three tents each pay at least $200 per person, the restaurant says via Facebook, for a multi-hour, five-course “dining experience weaving through Kaiseki and Omakase Edomae Nigiri Sushi.” It’s an experience that SFist reports “is possibly the most high-end dining option available in SF right now.”
- Despite the steep price tag, Matsuura says he’s already planning on buying more. There are three of the tents outside Hashiri, so with four people seated in each and two seatings a night, the tents likely paid for themselves the first night they were in action. (Showing our work: $200 each for 4 people at 2 seatings = $1,600.) “They give our customers peace of mind,” Matsuura tells SF Gate. “They’re in their own cozy atmosphere and they feel safe. They were having a blast! That’s what’s important to me.”