“How do you guys feel about an uni intermission?”
That was the question that preceded what was either the 12th or 13th course one evening at Robin, Adam Tortosa’s highly awaited contemporary Japanese restaurant in Hayes Valley. I was sitting at the chef’s counter with a friend when it was asked, and our answer was, “Yes. Good. Please.” It has stuck with me, for several reasons.
First, some context. Robin has been in the works for a long time. Way back in 2013, Tortosa opened Polk Street’s 1760 with members of the Acquerello team, but later left San Francisco for Los Angeles, where he toiled under Katsuya Uechi at Kiwami and at the master sushi chef’s other restaurants. Six weeks ago, Eater SF chronicled this errand into the wilderness and back as part of a comprehensive examination of what it takes to open a (high-end) restaurant in S.F.
Read it, and you’ll learn that Tortosa pulled together nearly $700,000 for his dream, which is basically a comeback. He spent $48,000 on rent before Robin restaurant even opened, plus $14,500 on a slate sushi bar and unspecified thousands on the gold-rose resin that adorns the walls. A city bureaucrat’s random clerical error cost him $2,000 in wasted time. Tortosa also paid a sort of liquor-license fixer a $5,000 fee to, among other things, mail out 586 letters of intent — one for every San Francisco resident within 500 feet of 620 Gough St.
All of this went into the creation of a setting, a mood, a context for which the question “How do you guys feel about an uni intermission?” doesn’t feel as absurd as it unquestionably is. (I immediately thought of “Let’s all go to the lobby / To get ourselves a…
click here to read more.