By Emma Krasov. Photography by Yuri Krasov
At the crossroads of international cuisine, San Francisco is rightfully considered the West Coast food capital of the United States. Home to ethnic eateries from practically all nations of the world, the city always lives up to its reputation, even when the planets line up strongly against the thriving restaurant industry of the Colden State. Despite all the hurdles and obstacles the infamous 2020 has brought upon our culinary paradise, new restaurants continued to open, with new sanitary protocols, new outdoor seating in parklets (formerly known as street parking) and new concepts to meet the ever changing demand.
At the newly open Jaranita Peruvian Rotisserie, some finger-licking specialties from Lima and Cusco feel right at home in San Francisco’s Marina District. The word “Jarana” (revelry) that forms the name of the boisterous eatery, perfectly conveys the prevailing mood. Jaranita Signature Cocktails as well as Cebiche and Peruvian Classics on the dinner menu are enticing, brightly colored, and inevitably make people smile when they arrive at the table.
This comes as no surprise, since Jaranita is the newest venue from the acclaimed Acurio International Restaurant Group founded by the Peruvian celebrity chef Gastón Acurio. Known for his devotion to the authentic flavors of Peru and the variety of ethnic influences in the classic cuisine, Chef Acurio debuted his U.S. operation with an award-winning La Mar Cebicheria Peruana on San Francisco’s waterfront ten years ago.
“Though the pandemic has been challenging for the restaurant industry, we’re excited to kick-off a new year by introducing our new Peruvian wood-fired rotisserie concept to San Francisco locals and visitors,” says Chef Javier Cussato whose previous experience has been at the famous La Mar. “With Jaranita, our goal is to offer an approachable menu with takeout and delivery options as well as open-air dining.”
When greeted by the hospitable staff, and seated in the parklet, start your feast with creative pisco-based cocktails, like an emerald-colored El Cholito de la Marina made with cucumber-infused sake, dry vermouth, simple syrup, lime juice, cucumber and jalapeno, or a foamy Nikkei Sour made with blanco sake, yuzu sake, lime juice, and egg white.
Don’t skip Cebiche Clásico, made with a catch of the day (a local halibut if you’re lucky), bathed in the sharp tangy leche de tigre, and garnished with red onions, fried plantains, Peruvian sweet corn, and habanero shavings.
While in Lima, Peru a few years ago, I’ve heard that some people come to a restaurant and order just the marinade—the notorious leche de tigre—“tiger’s milk,” made from citrus fruit, hot peppers, onions, and various seasonings. Should I have been a “Limeña” I’d be one of those people!
Chef Cussato’s next masterpiece is Cebiche Tiradito Verde of ruby-red ahi tuna in kale leche de tigre with avocado, cucumbers, onions and peppers, topped with crispy kale—deep fried and totally indulgent.
One of the most famous traditional skewers, Corazón, is made of chewy yet tender chunks of beef heart, and garnished with potato fries, red Peruvian BBQ sauce, and sweet corn on the cob in yellow pepper cheese sauce.
For your main course, pick a smoky and juicy Pollo a la Brasa—a whole or a half free-range, pasture-raised heirloom chicken rubbed with Peruvian spices and slow-roasted over charcoal to absolute perfection, and served with two sides, like fried potatoes and white beans, and three dipping sauces.
Another bright star of the Chef Cussato’s menu is the authentic Lomo Saltado, a simple-sounding dish, fragrant with spices, and packing tons of flavor. Its main ingredients are beef tenderloin, fried potatoes, and rice, topped with tomatoes, garlic, and cilantro in soy and oyster sauces.
For any of these dishes, a traditional Peruvian non-alcoholic Chicha Morada, made of purple corn, pineapple juice and spices, is a great accompaniment.
Jaranita is located at 3340 Steiner Street, San Francisco, CA 94123 and open Monday-Thursday from 11:30 am to 2:30 pm for lunch and from 5 to 8:30 pm for dinner, Friday 11:30 am to 2:30 pm for lunch and from 5 to 9:30 pm for dinner, and on Saturday and Sunday all day from 11:30 am to 9:30 pm. Call 415.483.6372 or visit www.jaranitasf.com.
Especially for those who fully embraced the pandemic-induced culture of dining at home on takeout or delivery meals from favorite restaurants, a new, but oh so familiar, Lazy Susan opened in the cool and trendy Hayes Valley.
As the restaurant’s retro name, derived from the spinning turntable for easy sharing at family-style Chinese eateries implies, what you’re about to consume is good old comfort food, popular in the United States for about a century for a reason.
25 beloved Chinese-American classics are on the menu, modernized by the fresh local California ingredients, and health-conscious abbreviations that mark almost every item in Appetizers, Entrees, and Sides sections—GF for gluten-free, VG for vegetarian, and V for vegan.
Chef Eric Ehler, formerly of the much loved Mister Jiu, explains his concept of delicious staples, traditionally intended for immediate consumption and now reimagined for delayed serving, “I had a lot of fun putting together this menu of dishes, some of which have been favorites of mine since childhood. Focusing on flavors and textures that would stand up to takeout and delivery led to experimentation that allowed us to dial into sauces that provide full flavors and techniques that allow food to taste good not just directly upon preparation, but after time and travel.”
And so, the Crispy Spring Rolls, Hot & Sour Soup, Dry Fried Aromatic Chicken and Beef Chow Mein as well as all other similarly enticing dishes are supplemented with house-made sauces and vinegars nicely packed and ready for being delivered or picked up at the designated time.
Salt Partners, a restaurant group behind Lazy Susan, has an impressive portfolio that includes Crenn Dining Group, Humphry Slocombe Ice Cream, LocoL, High-Proof (a San Francisco based bar group that opened Horsefeather and Last Rites), and B-Side at SFJAZZ. Lazy Susan is a daring enterprise that seems to work exceptionally well with its numerous and competently operating staff, and a constant stream of happy diners picking up their neatly packed orders all throughout the opening hours.
Lazy Susan is located at 208 Fell Street, San Francisco, CA 94102, and open Wednesday through Sunday, from 5:00 to 9:30 p.m. Call 415.858.7858 or visit www.lazysusanchinese.com.