Inside Scoop SF broke the news that Mission Chinese Food’s San Francisco chef Jesse Koide is moving on to work on a new venture of his own called Pink Zebra, which will start as a Thursday–Monday night pop-up venture inside Tao Yin on 20th St. in the Mission in October. We hit up Koide to learn a bit more about his forthcoming flavor profile, which will be rooted in Japanese and Mediterranean cuisines and then fly free from there.
“I want to be able to express not only my personal mixed background, but the mixed experiences I've had in my cooking career,” shares Koide, who has worked at restaurants such as Bar Tartine, Slow Club, Blowfish, and Farina. “It would be nice to show up at work and put something on the menu that works with the rest of the overall experience, but at the same time it's a total curveball.
“For example, last night while tasting wine with one of my old cooks from Mission Chinese Food, I made gulf prawns in butter and herbs de provence, a smashed peach, and put a bit of the grand cru Chablis in the pan. We ate it on Texas toast, with the wine. It was amazing — not so much with the wine, but the wine in the sauce with the peach and everything else was rad."
His goal is to incorporate all of the flavors and food that he likes to eat into a workable menu that's "fun, funky and casual, using quality ingredients." He adds, "It's good to be able to have the freedom to be whimsical with food. Some of the best chefs are like children – spontaneous, and always trying new things.”
Tao Yin will reserve five tables to serve their normal menu on Thursday through Monday nights, leaving about 40 seats for Pink Zebra. There will be omakase sushi meals at a tiny counter that currently seats five, but Koide is looking into different seats so he can squeeze a few more in comfortably. The goal is to stay open until 1 a.m. each night in hopes of being a great place for chefs and other restaurant industry professionals to eat after work. “There’s not a whole lot of eating options [at that hour] and it would make me feel happy to take care of everyone after their long day, doing what we do,” he says.
Koide will debut Pink Zebra as a pop-up during the MAD Symposium in Copenhagen, Denmark from August 18-23 before taking a research trip to Japan. Follow Pink Zebra on Instagram for a visual taste at what’s headed this way in the fall.
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Photo by Angela DeCenzo