At Gozu in San Francisco, chef Marc Zimmerman’s love of Wagyu beef has been translated into a 10-course tasting menu that shows off the whole cow from head to tail. For his next venture, he’s going a bit more casual, but his devotion to Wagyu is far from waning.
Zimmerman is planning a low-key bar devoted to the high-end Japanese beef and Whisky, Eater SF first reported. Yokai, which means “spirit” in Japanese, will take a number of talents from Gozu and put them to work in a setting inspired by Japan’s after-work bars. In terms of the food, the bulk of the menu will focus on shareable plates and yakitori skewers cooked over binchotan charcoal. Some large plates will also be available, such as a slow-roasted Wagyu neck and coal-seared Wagyu carpaccio.
“We’re really digging down deep into what great beef is,” Zimmerman told Robb Report in 2019, when Gozu opened. “I’ve always thought that the steakhouse kind of sells it short. For the most part they’re serving the strips and the rib-eyes and the tenderloin, but there’s a whole lot more tasty parts to the animal than those.”
While the main focus will be on meat, Yokai will also cook up fish and seafood, including steamed whole Japanese sea bream and King salmon belly skewers with matcha, buttermilk and dill. The vegetables and produce will come from Tenbrink Farms. For drinks, which will be just as important as the food, the beverage menu will lean toward Japanese whisky and cocktails, along with brandy, Cognac and Japanese gin.
The pre-Prohibition space, which features high ceilings and exposed brick, will be renovated by ALM Design Studio. And to emphasize the Japanese-listening-bar vibes, a vintage McIntosh sound system will be installed, in order for guests to listen to the extensive vinyl collection owned by the bar.
To help him out at Yokai, Zimmerman is brining along Gozu’s Jessie Lugo, beverage director Jordan Abraham and general manager Molly Mueller. The latter two will split their time between the Yokai and Gozu, showing just how interconnected the two spots will be.
Given how much people already love the steakhouse, that seems like a good sign for Yokai.