By Elena Kadvany
The new Cijjo Restaurant and Lounge (pronounced sy-joe), a contemporary, international small plates restaurant, had its soft opening in late December but is planning for a grand opening early this year. The restaurant took over the space at 246 Castro St. vacated by Pho Garden last year. The Cijjo kitchen is led by Ira Siegel, who comes with a degree from the Culinary Institute of America and experience in New York City under chefs like Wolfgang Puck and Jean-Louis Palladin.
The menu is worldly, with plates ranging from seared tuna tetaki to burrata pugliesi, from Alsatian tarte flambé to truffle fries. Each dish is meant to be unique and created with authentic ingredients from the region it's representing, said owner Trisha Pham. For example, Cijjo's Peruvian seafood ceviche is marinated with passion fruit, native to Peru, instead of the traditional lime. The name of the restaurant is a word Pham said she and her husband encountered during travels around Spain. "There's no meaning to it, but if you Google 'cijjo' there's absolutely nothing out there except us. Anything related to Cijjo will point you to us. ... We're going to be one-of-a-kind."
Open for lunch and dinner Wednesday through Monday; beer and wine only.
Five Guys, the East Coast version of In-N-Out Burger, is expanding its burger empire (more than 1,000 locations in the U.S. and Canada) with a new outpost at 2098 El Camino Real, the space formerly occupied by Country Gourmet. At Five Guys, customers can build their own burgers from a long list of toppings; according to the website, there are more than 250,000 possible ways to order a burger at Five Guys. The restaurants only use fresh ground beef; nothing is ever frozen and only peanut oil is used. The Mountain View location will be open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day; no opening date has been set yet.
The new year will also see Castro Street get another burger place, but this one comes with an Asian tilt. Buffalo Beers Burgers Baos is slated to open at 292 Castro St. in early February, said chef-owner Brandon Poon.
"The restaurant is going to be a slider bar concept (with) all-Asian fusion sliders," he said. Poon, trained in fine dining with a degree from The Art Institute of California in Sunnyvale, said he's planning menu items like a banh mi burger (a play on the Vietnamese sandwich), bulgogi burger (marinated and grilled beef, a Korean dish) and a breakfast slider with slow-braised pork belly, a crispy quail egg and mustard vinaigrette. "I figured I would try to take as much of what I learned in culinary school, kind of nicer dining techniques and downplay (them) into a little more casual comfort food," Poon said. And don't forget about that second "b" in the name — Poon plans to feature California-only brews and keep everything as local as possible.
Doppio Zero, an Italian pizzeria, will take over for Pasta? at 160 Castro St. this year. Doppio Zero is a reference to "00" flour, a super-fine-ground flour used in pasta, pizza dough and pastries. Pizza napoletana, a sought-after distinction granted by the American Delegation of the Associazione Vera Pizza Napoletana, is made with the famed doppio zero flour.
Downtown Palo Alto's Oren's Hummus Shop announced plans to open a Mountain View location late last year and will be delivering soon. Mistie Cohen, a partner at Oren's, said the team is aiming for a March opening at 126 Castro St. Oren's imports its chickpeas, tahini, pickles, olives, oils, spices and more directly from Israel and makes everything in-house. The Palo Alto location also does booming take-out business and owners have taken note: The Mountain View restaurant will have an area devoted specifically to to-go customers.