Christine Lau


Years of Participation


Raised in Oakland, California by parents who emigrated from Hong Kong, Christine first started cooking alongside her brother as a hobby to feed themselves when their parents worked long hours.  A love of restaurants was instilled by her mother who despite not sending her to Chinese school on the weekends, made sure she could always order proficiently off the menu.

Christine got her start working in restaurants at the age of 17, at One Market Restaurant in San Francisco as part of a school project.  In her early career she was sous chef at Centivini under Patti Jackson where their menus relied heavily on greenmarket produce, seasonality, and simplicity.  Christine dedicated herself to handmade pasta and learned a philosophy of Italian food that would change her approach to cooking.

After cooking Italian food for several years, she jumped at the opportunity to open Bar Basque with Japanese-American Chef Yuhi Fujinaga.  Working under Yuhi, Christine learned a natural approach to marrying Japanese ingredients and techniques with continental cuisine.  Christine furthered her Japanese culinary education when she opened Bar Chuko Izakaya with a trio of Morimoto alums.  Based on the casual, Japanese, late-night gastropub concept, Christine’s menu was made up of fun shareable plates and a full yakitori menu-- the kind of food best enjoyed with a few drinks after work amongst friends.

Opened in the first year of the pandemic, Kimika’s all female led kitchen has been preparing Itameshi -- a take on Italian-Japanese cuisine with a focus on seasonality and local produce to critical acclaim since August of 2020.  In 2021, Kimika was named to Conde Nast Traveler’s The Best New Restaurants in the World. Then in 2022, Kimika was named a semifinalist in the Best New Restaurant Category by the James Beard Foundation.

“It takes a light hand to mash up Italian and Japanese cuisines and not get mush.  At Kimika, that hand belongs to Christine Lau”

- Pete Wells, New York Times