trying feastly again...this time it's ichido...second times the charm, right?
Pop-up dinners are still a thing in San Francisco. Some so much so, they now have their own brick and mortar locations you can go to instead of traipsing all over town. Looking at you Lazy Bear! Though that was part of the fun, seeing inside other people's homes and stuff. Me and the SO do enjoy these occasional not so underground food jaunts and have had varying degrees of success with them. But we still soldier on.
A little over a year ago, I tried a new upstart pop-up company called Feastly. It wasn't the most auspicious of eating things I've done in this town. In fact, parts of the experience kind of put me off trying them for awhile. (You can read all about it here) But recently, I was offered the opportunity to give them, or at least one of their dinners, another shot. And yes, that means I actually didn't have to pay, so I'm putting that out there upfront. Though the folks who invited me had no idea I do the food thing and write about it, and still don't. Not to say they might be able to figure it out if they read this, but that's how it is.
I actually work in a hood where Feastly's dinners take place on a regular basis and had chatted with a couple of the revolving chefs since they'd been in the space. It was one of these chefs who invited me and the SO to try him out and, well, why not. Because I know the person, I'm not really gonna review the food. This will be more of a comparison of experiences from the first one to this one. Though I will tell you what I had too.
Instead of a large house with LOTS of folks and not enough food to go around. This was limited to 24 in a cozy former restaurant space. The folks at this event were also more friendly and chatty. And almost all of them were from out of town. Seems the specific dinner I was at had somehow gotten good reviews on Trip Adviser of all things and people visiting our city had signed up to try it.
The dinner is called Ichido and is prepared by Chef Geoff, yes his name. The menu changes with each dinner and is a combo of items he's foraged around the Bay Area, yes that's a thing here now, and whatever he finds fresh at the market. It can lead to an eclectic mix things all with a Japanese flair to them. Here's Chef Geoff in action.
The experience started as something he called fishinkitchen where you went out with him, caught the fish, then back to his place to cook it up. Seems they even used the caught fish to make ink print images on paper and things. Interesting. Now he's joined up with Feastly and refined it a bit to its current form.
Each dish is explained from concept to finished product and prepared as served and first hand allowing you to watch he's cooking skills in action. Our particular evening included viewing a huge stingray (they are edible!) he then proceeded to carve and butcher in front of us. Definitely not something for the vegetarian out there. But if you are a meat eater, I highly recommend you see a whole animal being butchered down to its parts. I think it is important to know where your meat comes from and the process of getting it to those nice little cutlets or steaks you grill and enjoy. That's my Michael Pollan moment for the day.
There were five courses of Japanese inspired dishes this night. As previously stated, I'm not going to specifically review the food but will give a run down of what we had.
It was definitely a unique and intriguing set of Japanese flavor profiles. Not gonna say they were all to my palate's liking, but I gave them a whirl anyway. But, you know, I'm a picky eater sometimes, or so I've been told. I will say the stingray had more of a meaty texture as opposed to fish, so that was different. The pork belly actually had more meat on it than we expected. Something I can't necessarily say of some of the more pricey restaurants in town.
Chef Geoff made a point to go around to everyone at the tables and chat, explain ingredients and seasonings helping give it that intimate hosted dinner party feel. Plus, people on this evening were also more willing to chat and get to know their table mates than last time. Whether that was because most of them were out of towners is debatable. But we all know sometimes San Franciscans can be clique-y (me and the SO included). It was nice to feel relaxed and just shoot the breeze about food.
Overall, it was a completely different aura from my previous experience, which for me, helped make the meal all that more better. Yeah, I didn't necessarily like everything, but the get together aspect felt more communal this time and that was a good thing. A lot better than showing up at someone's house to a party atmosphere where everyone, but you, is a friend of the cook and gabbing away with each other. That's like an introverts worst nightmare capped off with middling food. Ugh, sorry, just had a flashback. You'll have to excuse me while I go get a cookie and lie down.
And just a reminder, this is the last local food post for a bit. China beckons in 2 days and I will do my best to Instagram (and my other Instagram), Facebook and food blog. Fingers crossed for some fast internet connections!