For the past few months, I’ve been snooping around the Nob Hill corner of Central and Amherst, formerly the home of Natural Sound. Small signs are posted in the windows of the empty space. “StreetFood Asia,” the posters announce, and along the bottom, “dim sum, satay, sushi, noodles”—all the enticement I need to drive my curiosity to a fever pitch. But it took weeks of sleuthing before I lucked into a connection in the U.K., who kindly e-mailed the new proprietors of StreetFood Asia. I was able to finally meet Tai Tok, Paula Frahm and Miguel Santana.
Tok and Frahm are husband and wife. Tok, an international hospitality consultant, most recently served as food and beverage director for Laguna Development Corporation's Route 66 and Dancing Eagle casinos. Santana comes to the venture with more than 15 years of restaurant management.
With Tok as executive chef, Frahm in charge of the front and Santana (formerly food and beverage manager at Dancing Eagle) as general manager, the trio will launch a concept that’s engineered to broaden the palates of adventurous Burqueños. StreetFood Asia has engaged a small band of experienced chefs to offer a lengthy menu of items you’d normally find on a busy thoroughfare in any of hundreds of Asian cities.
On those streets, vendors often specialize in one dish handed down from one generation to the next, preparing quick meals for passersby—hot noodle bowls, exotic sandwiches and spicy skewered satays; grilled fish, meats and veggies; and refreshing drinks squeezed from fruits us stateside folks have never seen. Tok’s native Malaysia is a hotbed of cultural diversity, and many of these flavors are finding their way into StreetFood Asia.
In keeping with street food fare, you'll order items from separate cooking stations: Uncle Tai's Soup/Noodle Bar, Auntie Paula's Specialty Wok Bar and Anthony's Sushi Bar, to name a few. The vast menu will include many tried-and-true items like pot stickers, tempura, dim sum, assorted tapas, salads, pickles, and refreshing teas and fruit-based drinks. Displays of some dishes will provide a visual aid to introduce new items. One station may occasionally have a guest chef to bring even more variety to the day’s selection.
We will see some new Malaysian twists with laksa, vermicelli noodles in a spicy lemongrass-coconut curry with fish cakes and shrimp; Malay tamarind sambal, with long green beans, red and green onions, and bell peppers; and gado-gado, a lively salad of boiled potatoes, hard-boiled egg, long green beans, cucumber, spinach and other fixings dressed with spicy peanut sauce. Diners can chose among a dizzying array of sauces, toppings and garnishes. This is a vegetarian-friendly menu, but chicken, pork, beef and seafood are ready to add at a moment's notice.
The partners expect to open their doors in late October or early November. Tok is inviting local charities to partner with StreetFood to raise funds for their organizations during the restaurant's opening weeks. If your organization would like to feast and fund raise, contact Tok at firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
Meanwhile I will wait, not too patiently, for StreetFood Asia to open its doors.