AUG 8 2016

AUG 8 2016

Homesick in San Francisco? Head to ‘Āina

When I planned to meet up with a few former Honoluluans during a quick trip to San Francisco and they suggested we have brunch at ‘āina, I wasn’t sure I wanted to spend one of my few Bay Area meals eating something I could get at home. And there’s no way a Mainland restaurant would have the same charm or flavors as a local joint, since it wouldn’t be using Shinsato Farm pork or Mari’s Gardens lettuce. But it seems SF has a way of putting its own spin on things and we were curious, so we wandered into the recently opened restaurant around 10 a.m. on a Saturday morning, hoping to score an unreserved table.


AUG 8 2016

AUG 8 2016

Where Hospitality is Top Priority: Meet Jason Alonzo, Jordan Keao and Cheryl Liew of ‘āina

Cheryl Liew, Jordan Keao and Jason Alonzo might be the new tenants but they are not new to the restaurant business. They were the force behind the pop-up, ‘āina (ainasf.com), the weekend-only Hawaiian inspired brunch spot that had a successful but short run in the Bernal Heights neighborhood. ‘āina was so successful they decided to shut down and put their efforts behind searching for a permanent spot—they couldn't stand having to turn people away. Their dream was to have a restaurant that could be open for both brunch and dinner for more than two days at a time.


JUL 21 2016

JUL 21 2016

The Bay Area’s 50 Most Essential New Dishes

KALBI LOCO MOCO
’āina, Dogpatch |  900 22nd St. (near Minnesota St.), 415-814-3815
’āina calls itself a “modern Hawaiian eatery,” but it could just as easily be described as a cure for the common brunch. While you’ll find doughnuts, eggs, and French toast at the sunny Dogpatch restaurant that chef-owner Jordan Keao opened in April, there’s nothing rote about them: The French toast is made with taro Portuguese bread, and the eggs—well, the best way to eat them is in the kalbi loco moco. In Keao’s version of the Hawaiian staple, they sit sunny-side up on a heap of braised short rib and short-grain rice. Throw in some furikake, pea tendrils, heart of palm pico de gallo, and some hon-shimeji mushroom jus, and you have yourself a brunch to remember. $19


JUL 11 2016

JUL 11 2016

The 15 Biggest Restaurant Openings of 2016 (So Far) Around the U.S.

San Francisco: Aina
With a warm Aloha greeting and thrilling dish-after-dish of Californian-Hawaiian comfort food, the daytime-only Dogpatch brunch cafe that sprouted from Jordan Keao's popular Bernal Heights pop-up is our opening of the year so far. The concise menu perfectly balances light and heavy, from a carefully constructed homemade spam musubi lettuce wrap to guava custard malasadas (donuts). Then there are low ABV cocktails to drink that make mai tais jealous. Also, unlike so many new restaurants in this high-rent city, Aina is a true bargain and has become a cornerstone for a rapidly emerging neighborhood.


 
JUN 24 2016

JUN 24 2016

The San Francisco Brunch Heatmap: Where to Brunch NOW, June 2016

The first word is out on 'āina's Hawaiian brunch food, and the word is good. This brunch-only spot serves up island favorites with a twist, like kalbi loco moco and spam musubi "ssam style." Low ABV cocktails are fresh and fun additions for daytime drinking, including options such as a take on the uber popular Hawaiian shave ice.

 

JUN 23 2016

JUN 23 2016

The Best Places to Eat in SF in 2016

Brunch: ‘āina
900 22nd St. (at Minnesota St.), 415-814-3815
Small wonder that brunch lines formed at ‘āina the day it opened in April: The permanent iteration of Jordan Keao’s pop-up casts a ray of Hawaiian sunshine on the monochromatic brunch universe. Yes, you’ll find eggs and French toast at the friendly Dogpatch spot. But these eggs come sunny-side up with braised kalbi short rib, rice, smoked hon-shimeji mushroom jus, and pea tendrils in an inspired version of loco moco, and the French toast is made with taro bread from Hawaii’s Punalu‘u Bake Shop. But it’s abundant deliciousness, not novelty, that makes ‘aina a winner. And for that, we say mahalo. 
Runner-up: Brenda’s Meat & Three


 
JUN 17 2016

JUN 17 2016

The Summer of Pork Belly Hits San Francisco in the Form of a Meat-Shaped Stone

‘āina burst onto the Dogpatch scene this spring bringing us all the one thing we didn’t know we needed — all-day Hawaiian brunch. One of the stars of their island-influenced menu is the kalua pork belly — kalua refers to the process of slow-cooking meat (traditionally, in an umu pit, dug into the sand). Here, the presentation may be a little less dramatic than a whole hog, but the dish — which involves melty slices of belly alongside poached eggs, short-grained rice, shaved summer squash, arugula, pickled onions, and fennel puree is a balanced summertime delight.

 

 
JUN 16 2016

JUN 16 2016

Unconventional Brunch Spots for When You're Tired of Eggs & Potatoes

Sure, we love eggs Benedict and hash browns as much as the next person, but from time to time, we need something else on our plate. Thankfully, there's no shortage of exciting morning dishes in San Francisco. Check these out the next time you're in the mood for an unconventional brunch.

'āina

Get a slice of Aloha in the Dogpatch. At 'āina, Hawaiian-inspired fare is alway on the menu, but brunch has some of our favorite island classics. Opt for the Spam musubi "Sam Style," a delicacy served with rice and egg yolk furikake topped with kimchi. Mahalo! // 900 22nd St. (Dogpatch)


JUN 15 2016

JUN 15 2016

SF: Top 3 May Openings

The 10 key openings of May are Itani Ramen in Oakland, Mac Daddy, Fenix, HomageSushi HashiriPopsonsOrson’s Belly, Bellota, Sababa and Laszlo’s reopening. While there are strengths at each — all but one of which I’ve visited — here are my top three newcomers… andwhy they stand out.

'āina

From Bernal Heights brunch pop-up to brick-and-mortar, Dogpatch restaurant,  opened April 27 from Hawai’i-born chef Jordan Keao (who grew up on the Big Island), his wife Cheryl Liew and Jason Alonzo, who created an island-inspired (read: vaction-like), low-ABV cocktail menu. In keeping with their brunch roots, they’re serving brunch, with the likes of taro French toast, Wednesday through Sunday, and plan to add on dinner soon.


JUN 15 2016

JUN 15 2016

10 Mouthwatering Hawaiian-Inspired Dishes You'll Want to Check Out Immediately

The foods and drinks of Hawaii, along with all the many incredibly delicious Hawaiian-inspired things, are trending again big-time. And we're not talking pineapple pizza, tiki bars and the like. This time around—after a brief heyday in the ‘90s when chefs like Roy Yamaguchi and Alan Wong brought Royal Hawaiian Cuisine and macadamia-crusted fever to the mainland—expat chefs are intent on preserving traditional flavors.


APR 29 2016

APR 29 2016

5 New SF Restaurants to Try in May

Poke might be having a moment, but this new Hawaiian brunch is where it’s at — and they’re serving it five days a week. Pork belly with poached eggs and kimchi, plus taro French toast with applewood-smoked bacon, macadamia nut crumble and coconut caramel should be enough of a teaser to make your mouth water


APR 29 2016

APR 29 2016

San Francisco's Best Bar and Restaurant Openings in April

The pop-up that brought us guava custard-filled donuts is back, now with its very own charming Dogpatch corner storefront, meaning you can now get malasadas — those yeasty, Portuguese-style donuts — six days a week...


APR 27 2016

APR 27 2016

‘Āina's Shave-Ice Style Cocktail Is the One to Order

Starting today you can get your aloha spirits on—€”literally—by imbibing one of newly opened ‘āina's cocktails. The Hawaii-inspired pop-up-turned-brick-and-mortar just opened its doors in the Dogpatch today, and with it brings slew of playful low-ABV drinks


 
APR 27 2016

APR 27 2016

Enter 'Āina's Light and Airy World, Where It's Always Hawaiian Island Time

Yet another pop-up goes permanent with the arrival of 'āina, now open in the Dogpatch with Hawaiian brunch five days a week. From chef Jordan Keao comes a menu full of dishes sure to be quickly popular on Instagram, like taro French toast — with taro bread overnighted from Punalu’u Bakery in Hawaii — and housemade spam musubi. And while the food is beautiful, it’s also very meaningful to the Hawaiian-born Keao.


APR 25 2016

APR 25 2016

A Ray of Hawaiian-Brunch Sunshine Is Coming

“Yeah, it’s Hawaiian. And they let you eat brunch five days a week. What’s that? Can’t tonight. I’m dressing up as a Pegasus and going to a poetry slam.”
—You, saying one very important thing and one very stupid thing.


APR 22 2016

APR 22 2016

'Āina's Hipster Hawaiian Brunch Menu Will Please You Greatly

Hawaiian brunch pop-up 'āina is ready to open its Dogpatch brick-and-mortar to the public this Wednesday, April 27, and it’s peeking its menu now to get people excited. And it’s working, because the menu is dripping with the kind of food that reads like a Hawaiian hipster’s free-association of what brunch can possibly be.


APR 15 2016

APR 15 2016

Top 5 Bay Area Dishes: March 2016

Per usual, I’ve been dining up a storm at many a newcomer, covered in my top openings and standout dishes of March. In addition, here are my five top tastes from three of SF’s best restaurants, one new bar menu and one pop-up dinner preview of an upcoming restaurant.


APR 16 2016

APR 16 2016

Why Restaurants Don’t Need Liquor Licenses

When we first decided to open up a restaurant in San Francisco’s Dogpatch neighborhood, we were quoted somewhere around $125,000 to $150,000 for a liquor license. As a brunch restaurant that is zoned for around 40 people at max, this made me think: Do we really need to serve high-octane, alcohol-based cocktails and spend all that money?


MAR 15 2016

MAR 15 2016

San Francisco's 12 Most Anticipated Restaurants for Spring

The trade winds are picking up in the Dogpatch, where Hawaii native chef-owner Jordan Keao will soon make the transition from his Bernal Heights bi-weekly weekend brunch pop-up to a brick-and-mortar modern Hawaiian restaurant. Brunch will still initially be the only meal served, followed by an afternoon pau hana (happy hour) centered on low-ABV beverages from former La Folie bar manager Jason Alonzo.


APR 1 2016

APR 1 2016

How to Say ‘Aloha’ and ‘Mahalo Nui’ With Food in San Francisco

The goal is to spread aloha as far as possible through food.

However, the word “aloha” gets used so much that I always like to revisit its meaning before I decide to use it. Aloha means “doing things for people without expecting anything in return.” We are hoping to get this point across with our attitude and the ambiance of ‘āina, my pop-up brunch concept that is now becoming a brick-and-mortar modern Hawaiian eatery in San Francisco.


FEB 5 2016

FEB 5 2016

‘āina’s Hawaiian Brunches Find a Home in Dogpatch

Last spring, Bernal Heights took to ‘āina, Jordan Keao‘s pop-up brunch series at 903 Cortland, with an enthusiasm that surprised even its founders. The Hawaiian-born chef, who had trained at restaurants such as La Folie but was cooking at AirBnB, was putting out dishes like guava-bread French toast and Portuguese sausage hash with Brussels sprouts — two parts Hawaii, one part Bay Area.


FEB 5 2016

FEB 5 2016

Hawaiian Brunch Pop-Up 'āina Lands Permanent Space in Dogpatch

Yet another pop-up is settling down into a permanent home. This time it’s 'āina, a Hawaiian brunch concept from former AirBnB and Google chef (and Hawaiian) Jordan Keao. Keao started 'āina (which means "that which feeds us," in Hawaiian) because he couldn’t find the dishes he grew up with in the city.


FEB 5 2016

FEB 5 2016

Hawaiian Pop-up 'āina Goes Brick-and-Mortar in the Dogpatch This Spring

When I visited 'āina, a weekend Hawaiian pop-up at 903 Cortland Avenue in Bernal Heights, I was surprised by how flavorful (and SPAM-free) it was. Rather, the Kalbi loco moco with hearts of palm pico de gallo, Korean short ribs, smoked mushroom gravy, and sunny-side-up eggs were like a dream hangover cure. But in its own right, the flavors were complex — much more so than any rice plate with a scoop of macaroni salad.


MAY 18 2015

MAY 18 2015

The Mahalo Effect

Kiawe, pronounced kee-ah-vay,  is a spindly tree with feathery yellow flowers and long, green pods. Native to South America, the invasive species found its way to Hawaii in 1828, and now in 2015, Jordan Keao, the chef at San Francisco's brunch pop-up, 'āina, can't seem to find it amidst the redwoods in Northern California.


APR 27 2015

APR 27 2015

’āina’s Brunch-time Hawaiian Malasadas Are No Mere Doughnut

In the annals of fried dough, malasadas deserve their own chapter. Until recently, it was hard to find the fluffy Portuguese-influenced spheres, which are yeastier and more substantial than doughnut holes, outside Hawaii.


DEC 01 2014

DEC 01 2014

So Many Flavors, So Little SPAM: 'Aina, a New Hawaiian Pop-Up in Bernal Heights

If you’re a pop-up chaser, there’s a new one in Bernal Heights worth hitting up, perhaps en route to the Alemany Farmers and/or Flea Markets so you don’t buy ten times as many persimmons as you can carry because you shopped hungry. It’s called 'aina, and it’s Hawaiian. It’s weekends-only, and it’s very good. There are no pineapples, and there is no SPAM.


JUN 5 2015

JUN 5 2015

Spam Spinoffs Make a Showing in S.F.

Spam has a terrible rap — both as an industrial food and as an onslaught of unwelcome e-mail — yet chef-made versions of the canned ham are popping up on San Francisco restaurant menus, thanks to a revival of interest in Hawaiian flavors.


MAR 17 2015

MAR 17 2015

San Francisco’s New Wave of Hawaiian Restaurants

The gist: The most popular brunch spot in Bernal Heights right now is this weekend pop-up. Chef Jordan Keao focuses on bringing Asian and Hawaiian sensibilities to classic breakfast dishes, using both local produce as well as specialty ingredients like hearts of palm imported from the Big Island, where he grew up.