When SFoodie called Mutsumi Takehara, owner of Sandbox Bakery, last week to find out more about 903, the cafe she opened on January 21, we got a funny little message in response. "Well, it just got a little crazy, so we closed for a week to make sure it's perfect," she told our voicemail, laughing.
It seems Bernal Heights residents who have been going to Sandbox for rice burgers and bento boxes were a little too eager to follow the dishes when they moved to the old Maggie Mudd's space, which Takehara took over a few months ago. The opening of 903 has all been a bit of a whirlwind, really. When asked to define the food, Takehara laughed, saying, "Basically anything we want to eat." She laughed again when SFoodie asked whether she had a website. It'll be eat903.com ... someday.
But anyone who's tasted Sandbox Bakery's immaculate pastries knows that Takehara is far more careful a cook than she makes the project sound. After a week-long "tune-up," Takehara re-opened 903 on Saturday night for its first dinner service. As of today, the 15-seat cafe will be be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., with a short break between 2 and 4 p.m.
During the morning, that can mean eggs poached in shoyu and dashi. Lunch (Inside Scoop posted a preliminary lunch menu) brings a roster of noodles and Asian-inspired sandwiches, such as the tsukune sandwich that SFoodie picked up during 903's inaugural week: an airy chicken meatball with a light, sweet glaze served on one of Sandbox's challah buns. It's the sort of light, flavorful meal that we'd stop by for often if we worked within walking distance.
Takehara and her husband have installed a smoker, and so at night, in addition to the Thai and Japanese dishes, they're smoking brisket and ribs over hickory. "Since I'm expecting a bunch of parents to come for dinner, and have a glass of wine with the kids, I have a bunch of appetizers, too," Takehara explains. "I want people to feel like they're coming to somebody's house."
903: 903 Cortland (at Gates). Open 8 a.m.-2 p.m. and 4-8 p.m. daily.