San Francisco — San Francisco’s All Spice, a new restaurant from the founders of the seminal Indian-fusion All Spice in San Mateo, Calif., brings chef Sachin Chopra’s unique take on South Asian flavors by way of the Mediterranean and Japan to diners in the city’s upscale Nob Hill neighborhood.
The Indian American chef earned a coveted Michelin star in 2011 for his innovations at his Silicon Valley eatery, and has kept the star every year since for a cuisine he describes as New American Exotic.
In a departure from many other Indian chefs, Chopra has a deft way with game meats. But one is just as likely to encounter seaweed, fresh nasturtiums, caviar, Spanish cheeses and sashimi-style scallops on his complex menu.
For a dish called aab-e-ghost, Chopra cooks wild boar sourced from Texas in a traditional Indian curry, serving it with rosemary-olive potato flatbread. His Elk osso bucco is braised with smoked chili; while he spices venison with fennel and serves it with lightly sweet mashed peas. Wagyu zabuton steak is served with finely diced pastrami matignon, beef tendon crisps, German cabbage and freekeh grains.
Chopra’s version of a pakora is called Indian bread fritter Ma Mere, stuffed with cheese, mushrooms and cumin gigante beans; and a trademark appetizer called Ode to My Wife finds slow-poached Mt. Lassen trout served with ribbons of daikon, carrot-top pesto, goat cheese-braised carrots and beet confit.
Chopra, a Culinary Institute of America graduate, has cooked at some of the most noteworthy restaurants in the country including the four-star Daniel and Restaurant Tiffin in New York City; and he owned the Spanish-influenced Tapasserie. He met his wife, Shoshana Wolff, when the two were working together at upscale Amber India in San Jose. The two now collaborate on the two locations of All Spice, with Chopra as their executive chef and owner and Wolff as general manager and wine director.
Cauliflower is enjoying buzz status right now for its superfood nutrient punch and versatile, firm texture. Here, as part of a $100 tasting menu, Chopra toys with its uber-healthy reputation by nestling a layer of pork belly under the inch-thick slice of cauliflower steak, and adorning the top of it with a paper-thin slice of pure lard, broiled and browned. The golden tones of the dish are complemented by a pure white mousse incorporating white truffles.
Chopra also takes advantage of hyperlocal tastes with a cheese course spotlighting Point Reyes bleu served with oro blanco (a tangy, white citrus fruit in the grapefruit family) and truffle levain, thin slices of housemade bread.
Pastry chef Rodrigo Ormachea’s desserts skew toward rich and hearty — one dish incorporates foie gras with dark chocolate, mango mostarda and thyme tuille; while Indian specialties such as gulab jamun or kulfi are given a Modern American twist. Wines by the glass range from German Rieslings to French L’Argentier Cinsault, local Sonoma syrah and pinot noir and cabernet Franc from California’s Santa Ynez valley; and the restaurant offers inventive cocktails such as the Gunpowder (Sapphire East gin, green tea, lime juice and citrus) and Remember the Maine (Rye, sweet vermouth, Cherry Heering and absinthe). There is also a wide selection of nonalcoholic drinks including the Just Peachy Mocktail (orange, ginger and peach bitters), housemade ginger lemonade and Sightglass coffee.
All Spice Restaurant is located at 648 Bush Street in San Francisco. (415) 874-9481. Visit http://allspicerestaurant.com.