Chef Marc Zimmerman, known for whole-animal cooking at Gozu, is ready to reveal a bit of what’s behind the curtain at his upcoming restaurant Yokai. The team is calling the preview pop-up Stick Bar and, as of January 17, guests can enjoy skewers in the whisky lounge at Gozu from 6 to 8:30 p.m Tuesday through Thursday. The a la carte menu, which ranges from $14 to $40 for items like octopus skewers and roasted corn skewers, will then caravan over to 545 Mission Street when Yokai opens later this spring.
The pop-up is just a sneak peek of what Zimmerman hopes to accomplish with his homage to Japanese cooking and culture. The restaurant comes from not only Zimmerman but also tech entrepreneur Ben Jorgensen of Constellation Labs and a cadre of former Gozu team members. The pop-up will showcase vegetables sourced from Tenbrink Farms, wagyu as a massive highlight, and plenty of Japanese cocktails including an introduction to the Japanese gin scene. The actual restaurant will be a lot like that, too, but with a vintage McIntosh sound system in the background.
Listening bars, replete with whisky and vinyl records, are flooding the streets of the Bay Area and the U.S. like so many atmospheric rivers. Bar Shiru is the arguable progenitor in the Bay, landing in Oakland in 2019. Harlan Records took up residency in the former Bar Fluxus space in Union Square in October. Even Le Fantastique, with its focus on fresh fish and French Champagne, arguably fits into the category with a 1970s turntable and hand-built McIntosh sound system complimented by oversize speakers and tube amps. Cocktail bars continue to be a huge draw writ large downtown, and, with Yokai opening just blocks from Salesforce Park, Zimmerman’s newest venture looks to join those ranks.
Stick Bar will be available at Gozu as of January 17 from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. with reservations available online.