Openings

February Openings: Rooh, Indie Superette and Nam Vietnamese Brasserie

By Carolyn Jung, Erin Carlson and Anh-Minh Le

Rooh 473 University Ave.,Palo Alto; roohpaloalto.com

When husband-and-wife Vikram and Anu Bhambri conceptualized their fourth Rooh — following San Francisco, Chicago and Columbus, Ohio — they wanted to do something extra special: spotlight wood-fired cooking, a centuries-old pillar of Indian cuisine that’s little known in this country. They soon found out why. It took months to find someone who could build a custom wood-fired oven, rotisserie and smoker for their newest Rooh in downtown Palo Alto. An Atlanta craftsman finally managed to fabricate the 13-foot-long apparatus to the specs of Executive Chef Sujan Sarkar, which the Bhambris believe is the first of its kind in an Indian restaurant in the world. The glamorous contemporary restaurant makes full use of it, too, not only in cooking standout dishes such as juicy pork belly glazed in sticky date molasses and a whole sea bream brushed with Bengali mustard before being bundled in banana leaves, but even in cocktails like the Pathrao, a strapping blend of whiskey, orange bitters and smoked chorizo butter. Desserts are equally daring and include a rich chocolate tart with a layer of fudgy doda barfi served with — yes — parsnip ice cream. — Carolyn Jung

Indie Superette 3060 Fillmore Street, San Francisco; michaelmina.net

The latest offering from the Mina Group is a Cow Hollow market and cafe squarely focused on health and wellness, with a plant-based, post workout menu of healthy bowls, superfood smoothies and the Indie Veggie Burger: a roasted beet and brown rice patty. Kombucha is on tap. The soon-to-be neighborhood fixture was the brainchild of Patric Yumul, Mina’s president, and inspired by the company’s wellness bar, Indie Girl, in Honolulu.(Both establishments are named after Yumul’s daughter, Indie.) There is also a grab-and-go section as well as groceries, featuring products you might find in Gwyneth Paltrow’s pantry, such as Moon Juice powders and dusts, Beyond Meat burgers and sausages, Dr. Bronner’s Benevolent Chlorophyll Drops and Vital Protein powders, among many elixirs. And if you’d like to stay for a meal, there is an outdoor terrace — shared with Shake Shack next door! (We’ll take cheese fries with that chlorophyll drop, please.) — Erin Carlson

Nam Vietnamese Brasserie 917 Main St., Redwood City; nambrasserie.com

Restaurateur Anne Le Ziblatt, previously an owner of Tamarine in Palo Alto, is striking out on her own with Nam VietnameseBrasserie — described as a combination of fast casual and fine dining. Order at the counter and sit down for service in an elevated environment designed by Anastasia Contakos. The menu highlights culinary gems found throughout Vietnam, while paying homage to Le Ziblatt’s hometown of Vung Tau, located on the coast in the country’s southern region. Diners can expect toothsome dishes that incorporate top-notch ingredients — including chicken pho made with Mary’s organic chicken, udon with Dungeness crab, Ha Noi pork using Snake River Farms pork, and chili lemongrass tofu. (The recipes of her mother, chef Nhan Huynh, proprietor of the Vung Tau restaurants in the South Bay, served as inspiration.) Le Ziblatt completed her level I certification from the Court of Master Sommeliers and curated Nam’s locally sourced beer and wine program. Look for the restaurant to debut in mid-February with dinner; lunch hours will start soon after. — Anh-Minh Le

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