Last year, I got to meet chef Chris Kajioka (@Ckcuisine) while in San Francisco, when he was working at Aziza. The Iolani grad had moved to the Bay Area to spread his creative wings and continue fueling his passion for making exquisite dishes that dazzle the senses (and drink a lot of Blue Bottle coffee). At the time, he suggested I try the Ritz-Carlton Dining Room, which is not just a classic restaurant, but where he started.
The Ritz has since transformed the Dining Room into Parallel 37, which features more contemporary design in the layout and furniture, with a hip, trendy vibe. You’ll still want to dress up to eat here, but it’s not stuffy or so quiet that you feel like you need to pay attention to what fork to eat with (even though you already know). The menu has also gotten a facelift, and chef Ron Siegel brought Chris back to infuse his creativity in opening the new hotspot.
We went to Parallel 37 for a victory dinner after Bay to Breakers, and instead of ordering off the menu, Chris suggested we do a tasting — one that he would create himself. He warned us ahead of time not to eat, and to wear our “big boy pants,” and he wasn’t kidding. More than a dozen pretty little plates landed on our table in a dizzying succession, and by the end we couldn’t bend over. The food was beautiful to look at as well as to eat, and with the restaurant’s new ambience, we weren’t inhibited about giving our grunts and moans of approval.
If you want to do a tasting menu, Chris says Sundays are a good time to do it as they are usually slower and can take the time to create it. (I think Mondays are even better.) Contact them in advance so Chris can plan, based on your preferences, allergies, and the seasonal ingredients at the time. Price will vary, but to give you an idea, ours cost about $90 per person.
Better make your reservations now, though — Chris has announced that he’s coming home in September.
600 Stockton St. (in the Ritz Carlton)
San Francisco, CA