There’s a new San Francisco go-to for all things fermented. From the same team behind Berkeley’s Boochman Kombucha comes Boochmania, a temple to fermented foods and an outlet for kombucha makers. Diners can expect lentil miso burgers and rich hummus alongside myriad effervescent beverages at the restaurant and retail shop. Co-owner Numan Karabıyık says he and his brother, Mustafa Karabiyik, are both excited and scared about coming to the city. “The Bay Area, especially San Francisco, has been famous for more than 100 years for good food,” Karabiyik says. “On top of that, there are a lot of great and historic foods, too. The competition is quite large, and the stakes are super high.”
For those unfamiliar, Boochman launched in 2018 at farmers’ markets in the East Bay. It was just a year later that the brothers were able to move into a brewery space for wholesale distribution; that’s where they decided to experiment with food pairings. Those lentil patties with miso on house-made buns became big sellers right off the bat. “We got quite a few followers,” Karabiyik says. “But then we got hit by COVID, and we focused on only kombucha.” The taproom launch was in the rearview by the time restaurants could open up again, and the team was neck-deep in fulfilling a new product: canned kombucha orders. As sales rose, the team spied the 685 Harrison Street location, a former ice cream shop. “It was a full setup,” Karabiyik says. “By chance, it had a kitchen.”
With the new location, burgers and sliders are on the menu again, as is grass-fed lamb from Sacramento, house-made yogurt, and bulgur bowls. Moreover, the team is able to repurpose former SCOBYs and would-be discarded fruit into soaps and candles. One of the rooms in the expansive new space is even a dedicated “repurposing atelier,” a workshop to practice these zero-waste R&D projects. The brothers are experimenting with other fermented drinks, too, including chicha morada of Peru, amazake of Japan, and tepache of Mexico.
Karabiyik is right to notice the rise of fermented foods in the Bay Area. Fermentation Lab opened a second location in Japantown, and Shuggie’s has made a splash with its love of upcycling and roots in pickled goods. But Karabiyik feels confident about his business approach, and the team’s ambition to keep getting their drinks into major retailers. He and his brother are from Turkey and have lived in California for years, and he says they’ve adopted the lifestyle — and Boochmania reflects that. “Our philosophy matches the Bay Area,” Karabiyik says. “We are not only healthy and delicious, but we’re sustainable and responsible to nature and the society we live in.”
Boochmania (685 Harrison Street in San Francisco) is open 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.