Before I moved to the San Francisco Bay area I used to always hear about Yoshi’s Jazz Club in Oakland on the radio, and what amazing performer was currently playing there. For some reason only a few of those performers ever came to Seattle. I was sad. Since moving to SF I’ve taken frequent advantage of how close Yoshi’s OAK location is to the city. It’s fantastic to have such a high-quality jazz club close by!
Last night we visited the new Yoshi’s SF to see the Chick Corea Freedom Band. Since we were checking out the early show we thought we’d get there a bit before and have a drink and bite to eat as well – something that we’ve done a few times at the Yoshi’s OAK location.
The new Yoshi’s SF is just absolutely stunning. I haven’t been to that part of Fillmore for awhile, but it is hardly recognizable with the new Yoshi’s building there now. The building brings some real glitz to that area; inside, the dining room is very modern, with the feel of a high-end restaurant in Japan. Curtains subdivided the dining space into acoustic and visual regions which seemed to work quite well (we didn’t spend much time in there though).
But we weren’t really there for the dining room, we were there for the jazz! We claimed our tickets from will call and strolled into the performance space. The main floor is incredibly similar to Yoshi’s OAK, with modern upgrades and a bit more width and depth. In addition there is a small upper balcony with more seating.
We sat at table 40 on the main floor, and the first thing we noticed was how tightly packed the chairs were – we had two banquette seats at our four-person table, and the other two people who ostensibly were to join us later would have really been bumping elbows with the people at the chairs of tables next to us. Fortunately for us, those theoretical people never arrived!
Relaxing in the banquette, we ordered some drinks, and an array of appetizers and maki. The food came at a relaxed pace, and was fantastic. At one point MB surprisedly suggested that we should just come back some time for the food alone, and skip the jazz – it really was quite good. I’d recommend the soft shell crab appetizer in particular. Alcohol pricing was about as you would expect, although the sake prices were a bit higher than usual.
As a jazz space goes, even though it is larger than Yoshi’s OAK it is still quite intimate. Chick Corea had the house lights brought up so that the performers could see the crowd, which resulted in more interaction between crowd and performers than usual. We noticed, walking around a bit, that the sound underneath the balcony is a little muffled and less bright than on the main floor or even on the balcony, so if you’re an audiophile you may want to avoid the overhang. I personally found the sound very good from our position on the main floor right, apart from a lack of definition in the bass… although admittedly it was hard to tell whether that issue was the performer or the space (I assume it was the space, because the performer was amazing!)
It’s clear that there are bugs being worked out there – although our servers were attentive and precise, the table next to us seemed puzzled when they received four glasses of tap water to go with their bottle of Pellegrino, and the table in front of us spent about ten minutes during the set trying to flag down someone to get a drink. In the men’s washroom there are plumbing challenges going on as well – men, I’ll leave that to you to find out about, just be careful at the urinals, okay? 🙂
All in all we are VERY pleased with the new Yoshi’s SF. We took a cab to and from the show instead of trying for parking, and cabs were very easy to get. Highly recommended!