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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Machka Brings a Taste of Turkey to San Francisco

Posted By on Wed, Jul 18, 2012 at 12:30 PM

click to enlarge Machka, now open in the Financial District. - TAMARA PALMER
  • Tamara Palmer
  • Machka, now open in the Financial District.

Machka opened July 16 and has helped to fill a spot for comfortable-yet-refined Turkish food in the city, a cuisine and ambience only really captured and served by Tuba restaurant in the Mission.

Jocelyn Bulow, proprietor of restaurants including Chez Maman and Chez Papa Bistrot, serves as a consultant for Machka; his French influence appears on unique menu items such as lamb tartare, served with fresh mint, grainy mustard, a drizzle of argan oil, and a creamy and spicy haricots verts salad. Bulow opened a second location of Chez Maman in Hayes Valley on the same night as Machka, but he was so impressed with owner Farshad Owji's passion for his first restaurant that he has found time amid his own array of projects to help.

click to enlarge Lamb burger with goat cheese, heirloom tomato, caramelized onion and Machka curry chips. - TAMARA PALMER
  • Tamara Palmer
  • Lamb burger with goat cheese, heirloom tomato, caramelized onion and Machka curry chips.

Owji is originally from Iran but met his Turkish wife in Turkey, where they both studied law. Owji, an immigration attorney, works from an office just behind Machka and had been in love with the space when it was Basil Leaf Cafe. He and his wife designed everything in the restaurant, including a flat screen panel in the entryway that shows old Turkish black and white films (and pipes the sound into the bathrooms).

The name of the restaurant comes from a trendy area in Istanbul; Owji says he got the idea since it's next door to the Italian bar Taverna Aventine and he thought it'd be interesting to continue the regional theme. And between himself and his wife, Bulow, and chef de cuisine Reynol Martinez, there have been thorough taste tests to find the best ingredients to use and dishes to have on the menu.

click to enlarge Lamb tartare with mint, mustard, argan oil, and haricots verts salad. - TAMARA PALMER
  • Tamara Palmer
  • Lamb tartare with mint, mustard, argan oil, and haricots verts salad.

Currently divided into mezes, salads, wraps called dürüms, kebabs, and entrees, there are a lot of options that will frequently change, but Owji says, "You should see all the things I wanted to have on the menu!"

Lunch service launches next week and Owji is interested in the possibility of eventually serving breakfast.

Machka 584 Washington (at Montgomery), 391-8228.

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Tamara Palmer


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