Alnico Interior
Alnico at1050 Valencia St.

Alnico opened up in the space last occupied, pre-pandemic, by Shabu House (and apparently they’re the same owners, because our first receipt still had that name on it.)   But this is completely different fare, if with an Asian-fusion flare.  They’re calling it a brunch pop-up, but I hope it stays and moves into dinner territory, too.

On our first visit, I had the poached chicken congee, replete with ginger, crispy chicken skin bits, fried shallots, radishes, etc. To. Die. For. Congee is a feel-good, comforting, warm-rub-on-your-tummy, but Alnico’s version also has pizzazz to burn.  The mix of textures and flavors — creamy, crunchy, savory, tartness, heat, umami — made for a really uniquely beautiful dish. 

Congee at Alnico.

BF had his first-ever smash burger, with waffle fries. I thought the burger was everything it was supposed to be: flavorful, super beefy patties, smushed with melty cheese sandwiched into pillowy clouds of bread with a little cool, crisp lettuce in between. The waffle fries were also the standard crunchy on the outside, light and fluffy on the inside. 

Smash burger and waffle fries.

I didn’t come anywhere near to finishing mine, and brought it home for the makings of two more breakfasts.

On our second visit, I got their signature Korean fried chicken and waffles with black sesame butter, and the BF got steak and eggs with chimichurri. 

Korean chicken & waffles.

The chicken was perfect: only very slightly sweet, ethereally light and crispy.  The waffles were light, but the problem was they don’t provide any kind of syrup with them, and while the drizzle of black sesame butter was delicious and nutty, there wasn’t nearly enough of it.  I literally almost choked on the second bite: dry, dry, dry.  I requested more sesame butter, but it came out cold and hard and, by that time, the waffles had cooled down, so it didn’t melt.  Not ideal.  I’ve never really ever completely understood the concept of chicken and waffles — do you eat the chicken pieces on the waffles, do you put syrup over the whole thing? — and these didn’t illuminate me any further. I liked that the dish wasn’t too sweet, which it might be with the addition of syrup, but it needed something.  Maybe a spicy gochugaru syrup is in order?  But pay me no mind. Just go for that chicken and die happy.

The BF got an old classic, steak and eggs, and the ribeye was a charbroiled masterpiece with a spot-on chimichurri, worth every penny of the $32, in my opinion.   

Steak & eggs.

His potatoes were deep-fried, delicious chunklets, done just right. As for the eggs, they broke one, but then undercooked them. Still. Overall, this was a wonderful steak-and-eggs combo.   And the leftovers made great steak tacos the next night.

This was a perfect choice for our first in-restaurant meal in 14 months.  A semi-return to normalcy!

There are other very intriguing elements on Alnico’s menu I’d love to try: the beautiful pancakes swimming in purple ube, or the perfectly golden crab and avocado omelet, for instance. There’s also vegan porridge and vegan sausage on offer, as well as a pork and beans dish, brown-sugar bacon, and hash browns and eggs, a la carte.  They serve a variety of fruity mimosas, wine, and beer, Vietnamese iced coffee, and Thai iced tea, too.

So mosey on over and make your next lazy weekend morning a brunch day!  It’s been far too long.

Alnico
1050 Valencia St.
Open Saturdays and Sundays 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
(415) 757-0889

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