San Francisco

When Loews Hotels & Co. first introduced Loews Regency San Francisco a few years ago, a plan was put in place for some renovations and upgrades, along with a brand new dining experience. The Bear & Monarch is now open at the hotel, offering rustic yet approachable fare inspired the City by the Bay. The dishes utilize the city’s finest local ingredients and are based on San Francisco’s rich history and cultural diversity.

At the helm of The Bear & Monarch’s menu is Executive Chef Howard Ko. We met with Chef Ko to learn more about his culinary background and inspirations.

Where did you grow up?

Los Angeles, CA, in Koreatown.

Why did you decide to become a chef?

My aunt was an Iron Chef (a Japanese version), and I knew I wanted to be a chef since the 6th grade.

Where and how were you trained?

I started at age 15, making sandwiches, washing dishes, and bussing tables. Then I went to culinary school — the Culinary Institute of America in New York. I worked at Daniel, which was one of the best restaurants in the world at the time. I’ve been working in Michelin-starred restaurants for more than 11 years now.

Which chef do you admire the most and why?

I admire all the chefs I worked for: Chef Josiah Citrin from Melisse; Chef Timothy Hollingsworth from French Laundry; and, the most impactful, Christopher Kostow from The Restaurant at Meadowood. All of these chefs have different styles and a different philosophy towards cooking which are all now a part of me as a chef.

What food trends are you noticing right now?

I see a lot of Nordic-style cooking right now, which I am a big fan of. You have to eat good food to know good food.

When are you happiest at work?

When we can create memories and exceed expectations for our guests.

What do you like best about working as a chef?

That it is fast paced. We are a family in the kitchen. We work together and see each other more than our own families.

What’s your favorite thing to cook?


What’s your favorite dish on the menu at The Bear & Monarch?

I don’t really have a favorite. We constantly change things up and evolve to make 2.0, 3.0 and 4.0 versions of dishes.

Where do you like to eat on your days off?

At either very lowbrow holes-in-the-wall or Michelin-starred restaurants.

What do you love about San Francisco?

People embrace the food culture. There are a lot of great chefs in San Francisco, which pushes you to work hard so you can keep up and earn a place in the scene.

Exec. Chef Ko (@howard_ko) with Sous Chef Roberto Bonefont Jr. (@rbjr0213)

The next time you’re near the Embarcadero or Financial Districts of San Francisco, consider stopping by the Bear & Monarch to say hi to Chef Ko. You’re sure to be impressed by his culinary talent and the menu that showcases it. In addition to his re-imagined San Francisco classics, check out the dry-aged program, which offers a 16-ounce New York Strip and a 32-ounce côte de bœuf — both aged 108 days. Oh, and don’t forget the craft cocktail menu! Keep up with The Bear & Monarch at @thebearandmonarch.

222 Sansome St. | San Francisco CA 94101
(415) 276-9620 ·

Breakfast 6:30 AM–11:00 AM | Lunch 11:00 AM–3:00 PM | Dinner 5:30 PM–10:00 PM
Happy Hour 4:00 PM–6:00 PM | Bar 11:00 AM–12:00 AM

Brunch 7:00 AM–2:00 PM | Dinner 5:30 PM–10:00 PM
Happy Hour 2:00 PM–5:30 PM | Bar 11:00 AM–11:00 PM

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Loews Hotels & Co.