|Look for this traditional Sri Lankan street food at 1601 Kitchen|
As you’ll see from the draft copy of the opening menu, the dozen or so seasonally driven food offerings (plus three dessert choices) are a marriage of modern French and Southeast Asian ingredients and techniques. So what exactly does Sri Lankan-inspired food look like? The tiny island shares culinary elements of its neighbor India but also of its European colonizers (Portugal, Dutch and British). Offerings run the gamut from housemade Sri Lankan pickles and local halibut ceviche with preserved cucumbers to a reenvisioned Mulligatawny soup and roasted quail with chai spice. But what’s likely to be 1601’s signature dish is the egg hopper, a crispy bowl-shaped crepe made fermented rice flour and coconut milk that’s a popular Sri Lankan street food. The hopper, shown above, is made to order in a mini-wok primarily designed for the hopper. Fernando plans to always offer some version of it—the opening menu features an egg hopper filled with a Jidori egg and served with a sampling of sambals. Also in frequent rotation will be curries, a mainstay of the cuisine, such as a black curry of braised sturgeon served with preserved maitake mushrooms.
Despite the restaurant's name, the beverage program (for now) focuses on beer and wine only. Fernando’s former Le Papillon colleague is consulting on the wine list, which features bubbles and food-friendly whites and reds that pairs well with the Sri Lankan spicing. The 50-seat spot (with 25 seats in the dining room and another 15 at the bar) will juxtapose dark walnut and zinc elements with brightly hued batiks that have been preserved in clear resin tabletops and a lush variety of potted plants. Reservations can be made (eventually) via SeatMe or phone.
1601 Kitchen and Bar: coming soon to 1601 Howard St; 415-552-1601