Mandala Lounge takes its name from the Sanskrit word for circle, and in that spirit, it aims to create an experience that fully connects friends, signature cocktails, upscale ambiance, and live entertainment. Here, chicly dressed patrons congregate in the Asian-inspired lounge or on the heated outdoor patio, backed by decade-spanning spins from the rotating line-up of DJs or, in the case of a private party, the host’s own MP3 player or yodeling personal assistant. The cocktail list bears a similarly pan-Asian attitude—the Tokyo Decadence blends pear vodka, rose syrup, cranberry juice, and soda, and the Fit to be Thai’d sweetens palates with ginger vodka, saint germain, pomegranate liqueur, and muddled basil. Aside from cocktails, the bar tenders also pour a selection of single-malt scotches and Asian beers.
Cheryl Burke took the dance world by storm in 2006 when she won "Dancing with the Stars" twice, once in the winter and again in the fall. In addition to fame, her performance on the show also netted her two Emmy nominations for Outstanding Choreography. When she's not busy with the show, an acting gig, or a magazine shoot, she still finds time to teach at her eponymous dance studio, Cheryl Burke Dance, which she co-founded with her mother in 2009.
The facility features three dance studios, including a sprawling 4,118 sq. ft. studio, as well as a veteran team of instructors, some of whom are National and World dance champions. Together, in private or group settings, they teach nearly 20 different styles of dance, including the Waltz, Rumba, and the Lindy Hop. Once students feel confident enough with their dance skills or the swelling from the surgery to repair their second left foot subsides, they can attend one of the studio's dance parties to show off their new moves.
A native of Paris, Executive Chef Christian Nam-Hee sharpened his knife skills and his palate at l'Ecole de Paris des M?tiers de la Table. Today he lets his know-how blossom and wander in the kitchen of Bijou Restaurant & Bar, blending the culinary traditions of his homeland with the flavors found in northern California's seasonal organic ingredients. From his pans and cutting boards spring forth sweet-potato frites, quail stuffed with napa cabbage, and other dishes that embody the menu's inventive fusion spirit. To complement such an aesthetically poignant dining experience, the space itself?designed by DesignPlus's Pia Thomas?remains sleek and focused. The centerpiece is the bar, which glows a dreamy, iridescent amber that's complemented by ring chandeliers and absorbed by Italian leather chairs, a lounge area's plush velvet cushions, and tabletop black holes.
Supervised by a Culinary Institute of America–trained chef, kitchen staff at Arka simmer gourmet Indian fare, filling a colorful dining room with savory aromas. The seasonal menu fuses tastes from both the Northern and Southern sectors of the subcontinent to create rich curries as well as regional specialties such as chickpea masala or lentil dumplings. Waiters can suggest wine or beer pairings such as Indian Kingfisher beer or Spanish rioja, and printed symbols on the menu indicate which entrees are gluten-free, vegan, or favored by Batman.
Arka—which means "sun"—surrounds diners in brilliant color as they tuck into their elegantly plated fare. Crimson walls melt into goldenrod, lime green, and purple, and one surface hosts a mural of the restaurant's namesake celestial body.
The heart of the Kinara Lounge kitchen is its fiery clay tandoori oven, which crackles with baking naan breads and sizzling tandoori meats from noontime until dusk. Chefs bustle about the oven, seasoning pans of chicken, lamb, and seafood specialties with flavorful spices while peeking into pots filled with bubbling biryani rice. Servers transport plates to the dining room, where hanging red lights casts a glimmer on bottles of premium liquors and a flat-screen television. Come lunch time, the servers stack a sweeping buffet with simmering platters of fresh Indian specialties, enabling diners to sample a diverse selection of curries, tandoori dishes, and sauces.
The Name: Pisco is a Peruvian grape brandy, popularized in San Francisco for its use in sweet punches.
The Chef: James Schenk’s mother is originally from Peru, and he draws on that culture to create menus at Pisco Latin Lounge and Destino, the larger restaurant next door.
Awards and Accolades
Churrascaria: Brazilian-style barbecuing where the meat is skewered and cooked over an open flame or on a grill; the meat itself is called churrasco.
Gomme syrup: a simple-syrup-like mixture of sugar, water, and gum arabic, commonly used as a sweetener in mixed drinks.
While You're in the Neighborhood
Before: Browse mid-century furnishings, collectibles, and apparel at Stuff (150 Valencia Street).
After: Belt out tunes at The Mint karaoke lounge (1942 Market Street).