A bright new rooftop bar and restaurant from the team behind Cow Hollow Japanese-Peruvian restaurant Kaiyo has landed just blocks from Oracle Park. Called Kaiyo Rooftop, the outdoor dining and drinking destination opens on Wednesday, February 16 on the rooftop of the Hyatt Place Hotel. While San Francisco might be famous for its damp gray fog, this rooftop oasis restaurant shines above the SoMa skyline with lush plant-covered walls, richly textured design elements, and a nuanced menu that blends Peruvian ingredients with time-tested Japanese techniques.
Owner San Francisco restaurateur John Park (Kaiyo, Whitechapel, Novela) says he hoped to channel “vacation vibes” with the Kaiyo spinoff, so he filled the space with waving palms and a rainbow of rich hues. A robust cocktail menu leans almost into tiki territory in some places, but primarily Kaiyo Rooftop is a Nikkei restaurant, which means the menu draws heavily on Peruvian ingredients treated with Japanese culinary techniques. “A lot of people like to call it fusion, but it’s not fusion,” Park insists. “It’s been around for more than 100 years in Peru.”
Chef Alex Reccio worked with Park to create a menu that’s both inventive and approachable. For those looking to step beyond the typical Peruvian or Japanese culinary bounds, plates like the scallop tiradito – a Nikkei version of sashimi – marry both traditions seamlessly. Creamy Japanese scallops swim in a sweet-sour passion fruit leche de tigre under a tangle of crispy shoestring potatoes. A surf-and-turf sushi roll also feels uniquely Nikkei with crunchy shrimp tempura and umami-rich nori paste swaddled in rice and cloaked by a layer of torched and thinly sliced beef. Sushi chef Rafael Campo explains that the light buff hue of his sushi rice is due to a combination of piloncillo, Peruvian salt, and Japanese vinegar, which he uses to give the rice a more intense flavor that stands up to the sushi list’s bold flavors.
The beverage menu similarly spans both Japanese and Peruvian influences. For the whisky purists, there’s an extensive collection of Japanese rarities and a Toki Highball Machine, from which bartenders will be pulling four varieties (whisky, gin, vodka, and tequila) of carbonated highballs. Some drinks are coming over from Cow Hollow, but expect 10 new cocktails all of which sport names inspired by Japanese animation director Hayao Miyazaki’s work; like the space, it’s a deeply layered lineup with drinks like the effervescent Prince of the Sun blending pisco and agricole rum over lemon, mint, absinthe, lime, and yuzu. More traditionally there are two kinds of pisco sours, plus Japanese craft beers and a deep sake list.
The 3,300-square-foot space wraps around three sides of the hotel’s roof offering views of downtown San Francisco and the glittering Bay Bridge and stretching out west to Alameda and east to Sutro Tower and Twin Peaks. It’s a side of the city that’s rare to catch, and it’s set back enough on the other side of the freeway to give the impression of being close to those glistening high rises without being under their shadows. There are echoes of the Cow Hollow Kaiyo location including a wall textured like fish scales, custom-made woven lamp shades over the bar, and textiles reminiscent of the colorful woven kinds common in Peru.
A towering faux-plant wall encases a large projection screen where the bar and restaurant can show up to four games at once, but Park is adamant: This isn’t a sports bar, just a bar that can show sports. “We have all playoff-caliber sports teams in San Francisco,” Park proudly acknowledges. “But we don’t want the food and drink to get overshadowed.” Eventually, Park will open a new Kaiyo restaurant on the hotel’s ground floor, but for now, the rooftop will serve dinner and drinks with plans to add brunch down the line.
Kaiyo Rooftop opens February 16 at 701 3rd Street.