San Diego Celebrity Chef Brian Malarkey To Open Baja Asian Street Food Restaurant In La Jolla

January 3, 2020

San Diego's most outspoken celebrity chef is kicking off 2020 with a bang! Brian Malarkey is showing no signs of slowing down in the new year, and in addition to appearing on the next installment of Bravo Network's hit cooking competition Top Chef, the hometown hopeful is also gearing up to open a new Baja-meets-Asia street food restaurant in La Jolla dubbed Wood Yu.

Similar to the early days of Malarkey's "fabric-themed" brand of eateries (Searsuckers, Herringbone), the now-seasoned restaurateur is rapidly advancing phase 2 of his plan to take the Southern California restaurant industry by storm with the impending unveiling of his newest restaurant in a string of recent openings. After the greatly-successful rebirth of the Malarkey empire with the launch of Herb & Wood and Herb & Eatery in Little Italy in Spring 2016, Malarkey substantially grew his culinary dynasty in 2019. This past September, Malarkey and partner Christopher Puffer opened the $5.5 million Animae - an upscale French-meets-Japanese and Southeast Asian fusion restaurant located in the 15,000 square-foot ground floor space at downtown San Diego's newest uber-luxury high rise condominium building Pacific Gate by Bosa. Malarkey also opened Herb & Sea in downtown Encinitas last fall, which has been packing the house since night one, as well as fast-casual NIMA Café adjacent to Animae. Puffer Malarkey Holdings also recently launched Herb & Ranch, a multi-concept food hall in Orange County. Also in the pipeline of future expansion plans is ice cream and donut shop Unholy Doughnuts & Creamery, and Gochujang, which we surmise will be a Korean fusion restaurant centered around the culinary art of fermentation.

Malarkey will be a contestant on Season 17 of Top Chef.
Comparable to Malarkey's Green Acre and Farmer & The Seahorse business complex restaurant concepts, his newest endeavor will open within an office park in the Torrey Pines area of La Jolla. Wood Yu will unveil as early as month's end within the Alexandria Real Estate Equities’ Torrey Ridge Science Center. Located in a former office lobby, Wood Yu will offer a menu from chefs Brian Malarkey and Jordan Davis featuring Baja Asian street food like al pastor pad Thai, Korean beef bao bun tacos and fresh made guacamole with shoyu seasoning. The restaurant will offer a lush decor with indoor and outdoor seating, as well as a central bar serving coffee drinks in the mornings with beer, wine and cocktails offered during lunch and happy hour. Malarkey is hosting a job fair this weekend for those interested in applying for a position at Wood Yu.

Chef Brian Malarkey first tasted celebrity when he made a name for himself as a finalist on Bravo's Top Chef Season 3 while he was Executive Chef of downtown San Diego's Oceanaire. The Bend Oregon native steamrolled his newfound stardom into his own fabric brand of restaurants with the launch of Searsucker in the San Diego Gaslamp in 2010. Malarkey went on to open and close more than a dozen other restaurants over a short time before he and then-business partner James Brennan sold off the majority share of Enlightened Hospitality Group to Abu Dhabi-based Hakkasan Ltd. in 2014. Malarkey also serves regularly as a judge on Food Network’s Guy’s Grocery Games, makes regular appearances on the Today Show and Good Morning America, and was a winning mentor on ABC’s now-defunct The Taste primetime culinary competition led by the dearly departed Anthony Bourdain. Malarkey will also appear as a cheftestant on Season 17 of Bravo’s Top Chef, dubbed the "All Stars LA" edition, which will debut on Thursday, March 19.

Wood Yu is located at 10578 Science Center Drive in La Jolla. For more information, visit