Located in San Francisco’s Japantown district, Nari is a 6,000 square-foot, two-story restaurant on the ground floor of the Kabuki Hotel. During the tenure of previous restaurants, the fluted concrete columns and stepped clerestory windows that characterized the space were obscured by various finish materials. Our goal was to uncover the bones of the building and transform the space into a light-drenched garden with plants climbing vertically, appearing to overtake the building. We sought to create a screen of green vines along the dining room’s glass wall perimeter to invite curiosity from the sidewalk while providing a sense of privacy for diners. Circular booths and seating nooks enveloped by wood walls and ceilings offer a variety of warm, intimate experiences within the expansive double height space. The central axis of the dining room culminates at the kitchen, which is showcased through full-height windows from the Mezzanine bar.
The materials palette celebrates chef Pim Techamuanvivit’s modern but authentically-rooted Thai cuisine. Teak wood reclaimed from abandoned houses in Thailand was used as wall covering, bench seating, and stair cladding. We accentuated the sweeping columns with teak wood fins along the Mezzanine guardrail that mimic wood shutters found on traditional Thai homes, and we imported an old bi-folding door from Thailand for the upstairs Private Dining Room. Thai inspired fabrics were used for seating cushions, and the wood tabletops were laser etched with Thai numbers. Evocative lighting fixtures were hung delicately above the dining areas, augmenting the airiness of the space.