Japantown always get us with the allure of ramen and a mall full of idiosyncratic treasures, but now a seriously impressive new addition called Hotel Kabuki is drawing us to the neighborhood.
Retrofitted by Brooklyn-based Mark Zeff Design, Joie de Vivre’s Hotel Kabuki has stepped boldly into the 21st Century and is showing off its $31-million-dollar makeover. And trust, it’s mighty enough to become a destination in the area, and not just for Instagrammers.
Hotel Kabuki makes a grand first impression in the lobby, where the 19-foot ceiling, made from vintage factory windows, is back-lit like a work of art; behind the reception desk, the glass panels serve to frame a mural of a Bay Area map. Just beyond, the library has echoes of a Japanese house with a gorgeous open framework of wooden beams, metal brackets and floor to ceiling windows. By day, the sunlight floods over midcentury modern furnishings accented with fur throw pillows and books, a plenty cozy spot to curl up and order a cocktail and Japanese share plates from the adjacent bar and restaurant.
Upstairs the rooms are all chicly redone in a manner of refined simplicity: gray accent walls, Japanese-inflected art, leather furniture with hand-worked finishes. The hotel’s old Japanese sunken baths have been replaced (you won’t even miss them) with more eco-friendly cascading rain showers. If you do make a reservation for an overnight stay, try and snag a corner room for an unobstructed view of the western half of SF.
This spring, perhaps as the cherry blossoms come into bloom, look for finishing touches at Hotel Kabuki including a new zen garden, viewable from most of the hotel’s public spaces, and an outdoor lounge with fire pits and a pond.
Inside Hotel Kabuki
Vintage album covers provide a pop of color in the modern new lobby lounge.
Exposed wood beams, metal and concrete keep the rustic-industrial balance with streamlined leather furnishings in the library.
Tuck in for the night one of Hotel Kabuki’s simple rooms with just a hit of sass.
Okonomiyaki, that most delicious of Japanese pan-fried delights, is on the menu in the restaurant.
Japanese whiskeys, beers and sake star at the bar, where your cocktail just might be served in a maneki-neko (lucky cat) mug.
Hotel Kabuki gets it right with the karaage chicken, juicy thigh nuggets marinated in soy sauce and ginger, coated in potato starch, and fried. Top with a squirt of fresh lemon and spicy kewpie mayo dipping sauce.
For something on the lighter side, opt for the delectable chunks of hamachi and avocado served in crispy fried wonton cups.
If you’re in the mood for whisky, you’ve come to the right place. The bar stocks 19 Japanese whiskies among several others. The Shojo’s Old Fashioned blends Redbreast 12 Irish whiskey and Casa Magdalena rum, sweetened with a touch of banana liqueur, demerara syrup, black walnut and Angostura bitters.
That view, though!