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The Short Version: For the past 10 years, Cassava has served unique cuisine from around the world that keeps its growing clientele coming back for more. Its Asian-inspired menu tempts patrons with offerings that range from Japanese breakfast-style brunches to seafood dinner options sourced locally in San Francisco. Cassava has assembled a culinary team and wait staff who infuse their craft with their individual cultures to create perfect date night experiences.The multilingual staff speaks seven languages collectively to make anyone and everyone welcome at Cassava’s table. The newly remodeled restaurant is ready for your reservations to celebrate your anniversary or a very special date.
Since 2012, Chef Kristoffer Toliao and his wife, Yuka Ioroi, have set out to create an ethical and delicious dining experience for couples and families. Cassava started with the idea to bring dishes from around the world to the Bay Area and pair them with a welcoming and generous environment for guests. Now it looks to be the example for how restaurants work in the future.
“We started as a place where we can express Kris’s culinary vision with great hospitality,” Cassava’s Publicist Jamie Tobin said. “Our clientele is, of course, fond of our style of food and beverage selection, but at the same time, they support our vision of the restaurant operation.”
As soon as you walk in, you are treated like family. Cassava is a popular spot for classic date nights or romantic brunches, and servers will go above and beyond to make sure your experience is one you will never forget. The entire culinary encounter will leave you aching to return.
When it comes to the food, the restaurant only sources from local chains, and the team does its research to make sure there is no exploitation in the supply chain. Cassava makes it a point to buy ingredients from caring and kind people only.
That’s one way the restaurant’s founders fulfill their mission to create the ultimate dining experience.
“We enjoy a workplace that is completely free of racism, classism, misogyny, and negativity,” Tobin said. “Unfortunately, this is a rarity in our industry, and that is why our mission of spreading the message of equitable restaurant operation is that much more important.”
Anyone can invest in Cassava and support its vision for an ethical foodie future. The restaurant has raised nearly $300,000 on its WeFunder page, and the team offers insider-only deals for its community members.
Cassava has you covered whether you want to make a good impression on a first date, or take your loved one out for a classic date night.
For dinner, you have a $45 three-course prix fixe meal that comes with a starter, main dish, and dessert. Shareable appetizers are also available for you and your date if you want to try more food on the menu. Each menu option suggests a perfect wine pairing, or in case of the buttermilk fried chicken, the perfect IPA offering.
The best part is no experience at Cassava is like the last. All of the food comes from the Bay Area, and changes based on what’s in season.
“The San Francisco Bay Area is blessed with abundant produce and local water seafood.” Tobin said. “Joining us for dinner will let you sample and experience the amazing seasonal offerings we have in our area.”
If brunch is more your thing, you are in for a treat. Cassava features all of the brunch drink classics, including mimosas and sangria, which can be served by the glass or pitcher for the whole table. Those drinks pair well with the perfect comfort food, including fried chicken sandwiches or avocado-smoked salmon toast. For a more traditional Japanese breakfast, visitors can feast on salmon, rice, mushrooms, miso soup, and a soft poached egg.
You can have your brunch with coffee from local brand Ritual Coffee Roasters, or if you prefer tea, loose-leaf teas from San Francisco’s Aroma Tea Shop are also available.
For dessert, there’s chocolate mousse, or if you want to try something new, Cassava offers yuzu posset, a hot drink made of milk curdled with ale or wine and flavored with yuzu, a Japanese citrus fruit that gives the custard a tart taste.
Cassava caters to a client base that ranges in age from 25 to 70 years old. Local self-proclaimed foodies will tell you Cassava is where you want to go for a great date experience, with couples and families from all over San Francisco visiting the Bay Area restaurant.
The restaurant thrives on creating special moments between you and your special someone, and couples often come back to celebrate big milestones in their lives.
“Our favorite stories are ones where couples tell us Cassava was one of their first serious dates,” Tobin said, adding that clients recount how the restaurant played a role in their getting engaged or married. Some even bring their first babies to the restaurant. “We are blessed with quite a few stories like that!”
If you want a table at Cassava, you will need to act fast. Very few walk-in tables are available for brunch or dinner, and you will most likely have to wait to finally start eating. The restaurant suggests making a reservation beforehand on the website to ensure you and your date are in your seat shortly after arriving.
Not all food options are available all day long, so make sure you have an idea on what you want before you head out. Cassava’s website has the most up-to-date menu offerings so you know what to expect when you walk in.
Cassava is open for lunch and dinner five days a week. It is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.
In the coming months, Cassava will be moving to an iconic corner of Columbus and Vallejo in the heart of North Beach. The new restaurant is in the planning stage.
Cassava’s website wastes no time in sharing its mission with visitors: to create an equitable and ethical restaurant operation. Of course, the social distancing restrictions brought on by the pandemic prompted Cassava to rework its way of doing things. First off, Cassava began offering outdoor dining and take-out for their one-of-a-kind menu items. That kept staff from being laid off, something the restaurant is very proud of. Food for take-out is also still available for a classic date night at home.
In addition to avoiding layoffs from the pandemic, employees earn a wage suitable for living in San Francisco and receive full health care and whole-house tip pooling.
“The biggest and most often received comment from guests is how nice our staff is,” Tobin said. “We have a very encouraging and empowering work environment. There is no pay gap between front and back of the house staff. Everybody helps everywhere. No jobs are beneath anybody.”
The restaurant also provides visitors and employees a fun and safe environment by enforcing strict COVID protocols, including a mask mandate and vaccine requirement for indoor dining.
The future looks bright for Cassava, and the restaurant wants you to be a part of it, just like it has been for so many other couples who have made Cassava a part of their lives. As business begins to pick up, the restaurant is planning a big move to a beautiful location in North Beach, and it will be opening a second location. Cassava’s founders hope more people discover the restaurant’s unique offerings in the not-so-distant future.
“Now our mission is to keep being the leading voice of equitable restaurant operations,” Tobin told us.