Wednesday, February 22, 2012

hapa ramen + wing wings

yesterday, my day started out being off kilter. at this point in my life, i'm a complete coffee addict. i caffeinate myself all day. why lie about this? so after i went through a large deluge of email and meetings yesterday morning, i went to make myself some coffee when this happened....

i cracked the french press glass carafe. there were some choice words uttered in the foodie hunter household at that moment.

i tried to look on the positive side, i really didn't like the french press. someone bought it for me as a replacement when he stayed at my place in berkeley a few years ago when i was visiting paris. i didn't like it but the frugal part of me didn't think i should buy something else....even when amy brown brought her shiny lovely stainless steel french press during our foraging mushroom trip a couple of years ago....and i immediately coveted it. she knows this...because when i informed her how much i coveted it...she provided some guidance on where to get one. but i resisted the temptation to buy one for myself because the frugal part of me won out.

however, fast forward a couple of years later and my having broken the glass carafe (not on purpose!) ...provided quite the opportunity. dontcha just love the rationalization that goes on? plus, i knew that blue bottle at the ferry building were selling the very french press i wanted and i also knew that i wanted to check in with hapa during their ferry building tuesday gig to see if they wanted me to bring them a family meal at their popup at wing wings later that night. sometimes, when they are running from event to event....they don't have much of an opportunity to eat themselves.

so yeah, i went to the blue bottle ferry building to buy the stainless steel bodum which is truly lovely and not a hint of glass in sight. thank goodness there will be no more cracked glass in my future. i also checked in with sus at the hapa stand and she indicated it was not necessary for me to bring them a family meal and that they had it covered. so i went back to work and continuously feed my caffeine addiction until the hapa popup at wing wings.

like many events, i arrived early to the wing wings popup to hang out. i must admit that there was this really odd feeling that came over me when i stepped through the swinging "w" doors of wing wings to go behind the counter and into the kitchen to hang out with the hapa folks while they were doing their prep.

it wasn't a bad was just different. i'm so used to being on the eating side of wing wings...not crossing that almost invisible line between the customer section and the proprietor section. it was also cool to have a chance to chat with the wing wings owners, lisa and christian during the visit as well. i do think it is great that they are opening up their space (on their night off no less!) to other folks such as hapa.

when the hapa popup officially started, it was fascinating to observe the buzz of service....a mix of ferry building farmers market hapa regulars, wing wing regulars, families, people on dates, folks from the lower haight neighborhood, lots of industry, and folks that were excited because they hadn't had an opportunity to come to the previous hapa popups at bar tartine or the hapa stand at the farmers markets. it was quite a diverse crowd on many levels. while observing service, there were a few key moments that stood out in my mind for various reasons

  • i've never said this before....and it isn't my idea...i think it was sus' idea actually but don't quote me on that....or maybe it was marcia's....anyway...whose ever idea it is...i completely agree .....someone should be following mooney, a wing wings FOH person, around with a camera. holy shit is that man funny. seriously snarky wickedly funny in a very smart sly way about everyday life. if he had a reality tv show, i'd actually buy a tv and subscribe to whatever channel. i'm very serious about this.
  • the ladies...i suspect a mom with her grown daughter....that had never had the food before, ordered the ramen, ate it, went to the atm, and then came right back to order two more bowls to eat the next day.
  • the mother that came back to indicate that her kids refused to share their bowls of big daddy ramen with her to try, so she needed to buy another one. i suspect that was the 5th or 6th bowl for that family.
  • "yes, chef".....and that is all i'm going to say about that one. everyone involved in that one knows exactly what i'm talking about.
  • the gay couple on a date....waiting for seats.....having such a good time....and when finding seats next to each other....connecting over their chopsticks, ramen, and riblets. tres adorable.
  • a young cook that was eating the big daddy ramen bowl with the crispy pig face add on...who was so happy standing there eating the bowl...and talking about how full he was...but how he wasn't about to stop eating because it was so good.
  • a wife that was so relieved that she...a meat eater...and her husband...a vegetarian...could both be happy with their different bowls of ramen.
  • a young man from the neighborhood, who never had the food before...and likely wandered in....he was very uncertain and very self conscious. FOH gently and quietly guided him through the menu....and doing something slightly customized that folks at the ferry building have no issues ordering. he came back later....waiting and wading through the crowds...looking happy and definitely not just say thank you.

it was interesting for me to be something a kin to a fly on the wall...or being able to have a sneak peek for a bit ...just observing....seeing folks from two crews....hapa and wing wings....hapa in the kitchen...and wing wings folks keeping tabs and checking in on the clients in dining area. seeing former strangers comfortably talking to each others in the small space...spilling out into the street....eating, laughing, and connecting.

richie told me a while ago that one of the chefs he worked for before he started hapa ramen used to say that you have to feed everyone like you love them.

i think i understand what that means a bit better now....and why that is important.

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