Popular Malaysian eatery to reopen in San Francisco with a prix fixe menu

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Azalina’s, a Malaysian restaurant beloved by food critics, is set to make its comeback on Sept. 1 in San Francisco’s Tenderloin, according to KQED. It will be located inside the Aviary development at 499 Ellis St.

The reincarnation of Azalina’s, owned and operated by Azalina Eusope, is a love letter to Malaysian culture and her family’s five generation-history of being street-food vendors.

“My goal has always been the same — to honor every single aspect of my experience growing up,” Eusope told KQED. “Food is very emotional, right? I feel it whenever someone’s eating something, even the smell of it. It somehow triggers some kind of thing in our soul.”

The project has been in the works since 2019, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. But the pandemic put a wrench in development plans.

The first incarnation of Azalina’s opened in 2015 out of La Cocina, a food entrepreneur incubator program located in the Mission. By early 2019, Eusope was able to join a slew of eateries at the Mid-Market food hall inside the Twitter building. In late 2019, Eusope opened her first full-service restaurant in Noe Valley. Mahila became the first San Francisco restaurant to focus on Mamak cuisine — the food of Malaysians “who have roots in India.” However, the pandemic forced Eusope to close all of her ventures.

With newfound invigoration from Eusope, the second coming of Azalina’s will focus on the breadth of Malaysian cuisine. With over a dozen states in her home country, there are a plethora of dishes that have yet to become a prominent presence in Bay Area Malaysian restaurants. 

“We’re not going to make another laksa. We’re not going to make another satay,” she said. “There are thousands of Malaysian dishes that people don’t know about.”

Mee mamak, a dish that might be featured on the new Azalina’s menu.

Kevin L./Yelp

The 35-seat space will have a night market type of vibe, which, in Malaysia, doesn’t really get into a groove until after 10 p.m. The menu will be a $100 prix fixe dinner with five courses and drink pairings included. The idea with each course is to create a feeling that one is walking from food stall to food stall, sampling each vendor’s signature item. The full menu will rotate regularly, but it might feature Mamak-style fried chicken, hokkien mee (sweet potato dumplings), roti tempek and blue pea rice. Eventually, there are plans to do a $50 prix fixe brunch meal as well. 

Before the pandemic, Eusope was keen to expand her empire with many different businesses, such as a Malaysian-Chinese coffee shop to honor her father. Now, though, she is focused on one business and spending more time with her family, as the pandemic has taught her to treasure the time spent with loved ones, she told KQED.

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