Umami Mart & Heath Ceramics Take San Francisco

Two new stores where you can obsess over tableware

A mug is more than a receptacle for hot water. A plate is not just for holding food.

At least, that's what two new stores remind us.

Two years ago, Kayoko Akabori and Yoko Kumano, creators of Umami Mart, added an online store to their blog to sell Japanese barware they couldn't find in the States. 

Last week, they graduated into a stylish storefront in Old Oakland's Popuphood. Their tools for coffee, cocktails and dinner range from hashi (chopsticks; $15 for a set) carved from reclaimed wood to sandy-textured, stacking teaware from Hasami Porcelain.

Sausalito's beloved Heath Ceramics opened a new factory in Mission in late June. Although it will be several months before tile production begins there, the open, light-drenched showroom already displays Heath's full array of dinnerware.

Visit to run your fingers over the sensuously matte finish on the new, slate-colored Chez Panisse line ($24 to $125), as well as a temporary exhibition of Akio Nukaga's work, which melds curvaceous, Modernist shapes with rustic Japanese techniques. 

Starting tomorrow, you'll also be able to drink espresso at Heath's Blue Bottle Coffee kiosk: Form and function unite in a cup.

Heath San Francisco, 2900 18th St. (at Alabama St.), 415-361-5552 ext. 13 or; Umami Mart, 815 Broadway (at Eighth St.), Oakland, 510-575-9152 or