San Mateo is known for its cuisine-scene, and Kitchentown is one of our favorite spots. Inspired by a lovely (and delicious) spring dish comprised of Jumbo asparagus, organic egg, prosciutto, romesco and grana padano at No 5 Kitchen, we knew we had to get to know Chef Henry Eng a bit better. We also asked about popular menu items, plans to add dinner and his menu inspiration.. Chef Eng gave us the inside scoop on a special menu using organic Gold Dust peaches!
“no.5 Kitchen was born when I was about to become a father, and I needed to build something that my son can be proud of, that is good for the community and the environment, however small my contribution might be.”
Before landing at No 5 Kitchen in San Mateo, he had a cubical job that allowed him to live and work in places with amazing food – New York, London, Hong Kong, Singapore and Tokyo. Driven by the desire to work with food brought him to California for its amazing weather, farming communities, and Dorothy Hamilton’s French Culinary Institute. “I was humbled by the opportunities to learn under the legendary Chef Jacques Pépin, and to work with Chef Michael Tusk and Chef Mark Sullivan”, says Chef Eng.
What’s behind the name No 5 kitchen?
The number, five, is our family name. no.5 Kitchen is in its core a family business for families, where people can gather and connect with what truly matters. For us, it is our loved ones and our planet.
3 words that best describe the menu at no. 5 Kitchen:
Local – we are committed to sourcing our ingredients locally. We believe in letting the produce ripen on its vine by nature for its full flavor; instead of picking them early so they have little flavor but can survive the long journey from places afar.
Seasonal – we adhere to eating seasonally. We respect and are excited about what the four seasons bring. This is also our commitment to sustainability.
Honest– what you see is what you get. We pride our cooking in simple, traditional methods without adding anything unnecessary. We hate antibiotic laced meat, we do not serve farmed seafood, we love our eggs and dairy from organic farms. Bottom line is I won’t serve you anything I won’t feed my family.
Where do your menu inspirations come from?
Our inspirations come from the changing seasons and our hardworking farmers. People are now more intent on eating food that is good for them and the planet. Eating local and seasonal is naturally colorful, tasty, healthy and sustainable.
His love of ingredients shows in the thoughtful menu planning and incredible combinations that reflect the local bounty. The one ingredient Chef cannot live without is natural, unrefined sea salt and when asked what he personally orders for brunch, his reply was, “When I brunch, I order pork hash. I love pork hash.”
3 most popular dishes on the menu?
seasonal soup – might it be the green garlic soup for spring, gazpacho for summer, butter bean soup for fall or ginger winter squash soup for winter
bubble & squeak – crispy potato patties stuffed with seasonal vegetables, organic eggs, and bacon
porchetta – a classic Italian inspired pork roast seasoned with fennel pollen, sage, rosemary, garlic; it is the perfect combination of meat, fat and flavor.
Does No 5 Kitchen include any secret off-the-menu items?
We could be frying anchovies from SF Bay or plating a new salad with baby artichoke from Pescadero.
What’s the best part of your San Mateo Kitchentown location?
In terms of location, it is within walking distance from a beautiful tree-lined San Mateo/Burlingame neighborhood and Coyote Point.
For patrons, our space is a cafe for good eating, a marketplace with carefully curated products for your pantry, and an open kitchen where you can see the hustle and bustle of food start-ups preparing their products.
For us, we are rubbing shoulders with other food entrepreneurs every day. We get constructive critiques, bounce ideas, and share information about the ever-changing local produce. This is not just a kitchen. It is a community.
Any plans to expand, add menu items, hours, etc.?
We are part of the #EatSmallFruit pilot project and we partner with Matsumoto Family Farm this season to showcase their organic Gold Dust peaches, a flavor packed heirloom varietal. This variety is often overlooked and not carried by the mainstream distribution channels because of its size. We are featuring a special menu for these wonderful peaches in June (exact date is to be determined by the Gold Dust peach harvest):
housemade ricotta, gold dust peach, almond, local evoo, crostini
organic lacinato kale, gold dust peach, granola, summer vinaigrette
braised rabbit, pappardelle, gold dust peach, grana padano
pork shoulder, organic tortilla, gold dust peach salsa, avocado
gold dust peach bellini
We also have plans to open for dinner in the future. Stay tuned.
Plan your trip to no. 5 Kitchen:
Breakfast: Tuesday through Friday 8 to 11am
Brunch: Saturday and Sunday 8:30am to 2pm
Lunch: Tuesday through Friday 11am to 2pm
Featuring best-in-class retailers such as Tin Pot Creamery and Blue Bottle Coffee, Bay Meadows’ Town Square is shaping up to be the ideal gathering place with more groundfloor retail, outdoor dining and pop-ups to come. Soon home to a stunning new sculpture from internationally-renowned artist Jeppe Hein, the Town Square will be the dynamic core of our urban village. With Caltrain electrification to start in 2017, the platform will be elevated and grade separations will be installed on 31st and 28th Avenues, making the Town Square the perfect place to relax outside for a glass of wine or an ice cream after a day of shopping and entertainment at Hillsdale Center. Join the Bay Meadows email list to stay on top of the latest.