You have to give credit to Prime Steakhouse owner and chef Edward Dang for the ambition of his new pop-up restaurant in the Sunset neighborhood. Dang operated Simmer shabu-shabu restaurant in the space at 1055 Taraval Street until closing when the pandemic hit. Now he’s serving thick cuts of medium rare prime rib two nights a week, in hopes of feeding at least some of the diners who can’t seem to snag a coveted reservation at the House of Prime Rib, one of San Francisco’s classic and most beloved restaurant institutions. “You can’t get a reservation there, even now,” Dang points out. And if you’re thinking, “But, really? Prime rib? Way out on the west side?” then you’re not alone. But Dang isn’t fazed. “I think it’s pretty easy to think about it that it way, but [prime rib] also such a thing here,” Dang says. “There's a market for it.”
The idea wasn’t entirely a pandemic-induced pivot; Dang says he had the idea to open a prime rib restaurant before the pandemic and had already secured a space on Geary before COVID-19 derailed that plan. But when Dang realized the market for hot pot wasn’t likely to bounce back quickly, he decided to use the former Simmer location for his prime rib concept. But beyond thinking that San Franciscans could use another restaurant serving great prime rib, Dang says Prime Steakhouse is a draw because it’s “not so stuffy” as other steakhouses. It’s smaller; there are TVs on the walls; plus it’s located in a more residential part of town, closer to where workers who no longer have to commute to offices are looking for nicer dinner options.
For now, he’s only serving dinner two nights a week — on Friday and Saturday nights. And there’s basically just one seating from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., meaning Dang can serve about 80 to 90 people a night. He says the reasoning behind the limited days and hours is twofold. First, he facing the same issues as many restaurants right now: Supply chain delays are making it hard to source enough beef and staffing has been a challenge. Second, he says the single seating means he can cook the prime rib to a “perfect medium rare” and serve it to the whole dining room at one time, which means your meat isn’t riding around on carts or sitting under heat lamps for any significant amount of time.
That also means the menu is also extremely straightforward. The only choice diners face is whether to get their prime rib thick cut and in a single slice or “English cut,” which means it’s carved into two pieces. Either way, you get 14 ounces of prime-grade steak served medium rare (no exceptions) alongside mashed potatoes “with a lot of butter,” corn “cut from the cob,” and creamed spinach. Meals also include sourdough bread with chicken liver pate and a house salad. Dang says he’s working on getting a liquor license so diners can sip a Manhattan with their beef, but for now there’s either beer or wine. He’s also hoping to add more vegetable options so down the line customers can choose three sides from options like roasted cauliflower with chimichurri, roasted brussels, mac and cheese, and a baked potato.
If business continues to build — the pop-up has been running for about four weeks and selling out every night — then Dang says he’d like to expand to five nights a week. But for now, he’s just hoping to keep up with demand while also wearing a number of hats. He’s doing all cooking and marketing — “I’m the carving person too,” he says.
Prime Steakhouse is open Friday and Saturday by reservation only. Reservations can be made on OpenTable.