Once upon time, it was called Mecca (2029 Market Street), and it was one of the more happening spots for Castro and Upper Market dining of the late nineties and early aughts. Mecca closed, gave way to Pudong in early 2011, which closed almost as soon as it opened, and then was reborn as the only slightly retooled Gingerfruit a couple months later. Gingerfruit closed in October, and after noting some recent construction activity at the space, today Grub Street learns that the new restaurant to take its place will be similarly Asian, and will be called Shanghai. The owner is still Francis Tsai, the 83-year-old restaurateur who opened Wu Kong at Rincon Center, and who’s owned the ground-floor space since the Mecca days. He was also behind both its recent, short-lived Asian incarnations. Now, with the help of former Shanghai 1930 chef Leo Gan, he’s giving it one more go, but this time with a significant remodel — something the space dearly needs since the ghost of Mecca lingered heavily and sterilely in the space.
Along with the help of Tsai’s wife, they’re redesigning a bit, carpeting the entire space and creating a smaller, stone-topped central island bar that seats fourteen.
The Scoop spoke to Tsai recently and he said that chef Gan recently took a trip to Shanghai, and when he came back they decided to try one more time with the restaurant, this time doing “authentic Shanghai food.” You may recall that Pudong had some similar ambitions, albeit with a Shanghai-meets-France menu from chef Jason Xu (also formerly of Shanghai 1930) that never quite came together.
Tsai says he’s had trouble finding a “good tenant” for the space, and figures he is his own best tenant. They plan to do dim sum brunch on Saturday and Sunday, and offer a prix fixe dinner option throughout the week (they’ll be open Tuesday to Sunday). They’re aiming for a mid-August opening.
Also of note from the interview, Tsai’s daughter happens to be Melody Stein, one half of the deaf couple that recently opened Mozzeria on 16th Street.
Shanghai - 2029 Market Street at Dolores - Coming mid-August