Skool may be one of the best kept secrets in the gluten free dining scene in San Francisco. Their exotic gluten free menus are unique, and take advantage of Chef Toshihiro Nagano’s Japanese cooking influences. Not only does Skool have gluten free lunch, dinner, and brunch menus for guests, but they also have separate vegan and vegetarian menus as well.
Chef Nagano has been working in the kitchen for 28 years. In Japan, most do not get trained formally in culinary schools. Workers get their training in the kitchen, hands on, working directly with chefs as they master each new skill. Their methods are very old school, as the Japanese proverb says “Experience is the best teacher.” Chef Nagano didn’t consider becoming an executive chef until he was inspired by great chefs Ritsu Tsuchida, a chef owner at Blowfish Sushi, and Seiji Wakabayashi, a chef at Bushi-tei (now closed). Their creations really inspired him, and lead him to be the best chef he could be.
I asked Chef Nagano what some of his favorite ingredients are when developing new recipes. He responded that his go to key ingredients are Shoyu and Kombu (algae), most commonly used in dashi (a Japanese stock.) These two ingredients are both gluten free and are found in their popular umami. Chef Nagano feels these are key ingredients to make everything tasty.
Skool opened up in San Francisco back in June of 2010 and was rated one of the best hidden patios in the city soon after. Skool is family owned by two husband and wife teams. Skool’s owners are not new to the restaurant scene. They opened the popular South Bay restaurant in Santana Row, Blow Fish Sushi, several years ago. This time they wanted to open a restaurant that moved away from sushi, using a more fish focused menu with sustainable fish. (Though lately, due to a lot of customer concerns about radiation in Pacific fish, Skool has begun to source some fish a little further away.) The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner, plus brunch on the weekends.
Skool is more of a “scratch” restaurant, making most ingredients in-house. (If an ingredient is not made in-house, the server lets the guest know, so the guest can determine if they want that ingredient in the dish.) Waitstaff are trained to ask customers if they need gluten free because of a food allergy, or if it is just a preference, so that the kitchen can take the necessary precautions. Their gluten free menus are popular and they get a lot of requests. It is important to Skool’s owners to handle gluten free the right way, so guests will continue to return to the restaurant.
Some of Skool’s best sellers include the Nicoise Salad, Mussels, Gindara Filet, and the Salmon Fllet.
Gluten Free at Skool:
- Waitstaff are trained to ask if the customer needs gluten free for allergy needs.
- If yes, the ticket is marked and the kitchen is alerted.
- Cooks wash hands.
- Cooks clean the area and grab clean equipment (bowls, utensils, pans, etc.)
- Both the server and manager verify the correct dish leaves the kitchen for the gluten free guest.
- *Please note, the fryer is shared, which is why there are no fried foods on the gluten free menus.
Would you like to try a couple of great desserts from Chef Nagano?
San Francisco, CA