When asking fellow foodies how they would describe the dining experience at Benu, a friend of mine, well-versed in the art of fine dining, described it simply as, “The Asian Laundry.” However, after dining there on several occasions, I found this label to be a bit unfair as I wasn’t drawing parallels, but rather, I was noticing the glaring differences: the atmosphere and table settings at Benu are stark and more austere than the welcoming, cottage feel of the Laundry; the tasting menu is made of 15 courses which express Chef Lee’s Korean heritage, rather than 9 courses that communicate the restaurant’s sense of place; a feeling of grandeur is created by openly displaying Benu’s impressive, imposing kitchen, versus the quaint mystery hidden behind the closed doors at the Laundry...Continue Reading
After my first time experiencing what a real bowl of ramen is supposed to taste like, I was left feeling utterly perplexed. How in the world did Nissan foods take something so rich and complex in flavor, and create a replica that is totally overloaded with sodium and tastes like absolutely nothing? Who did a side by side comparison and decided, “Hey! Our instant Cup of Noodles can totally pass as ramen! It’s close enough to the real thing, I bet hardly anyone will be able to tell the difference!” It would be like saying an M&M could pass as a fresh cream truffle from Jean-Charles Rochoux, one of the best chocolatiers in Paris. It simply makes no sense...Continue Reading
If someone would’ve told me five months ago that, by October, I’d be craving a chilled suimono salad once a week, I would’ve looked that person right in the eye and said, “What the hell a chilled suimono salad?” After hearing that it’s made with sea bean, cucumber, squash blossom, wakame seaweed, tofu, and served in a dashi broth ($14), I would’ve politely explained that I’m not the biggest fan of cucumber, seaweed, tofu, or dashi broth and proceeded to laugh at such a ridiculous prediction. Ah, silly, silly girl.
This unique salad, the ultimate expression of freshness, is one of many reasons why in a very short span of time Nombe has become one of my favorite restaurants. It was in the spring when Nombe first impressed me with its California-inspired take on traditional Japanese izakaya fare, offering both a fixed selection of dishes, as well as many that evolve with the season. Now five months later, even with the summer’s proliferation of much-hyped restaurants, Nombe has continued to stand out from the crowd...Continue Reading
Following Jonathan Kauffman's footsteps, my quest to find San Francisco's best arepa led me to Pica Pica Maize, a relatively new Mission eatery located at 15th and Valencia. Although Kauffman was rather critical of many of Pica Pica Maize's menu selections, his description of his arepa led me to believe that I would have a similarly satisfying arepa experience. I was wrong. Comparing Mr. Pollo to Pica Pica is like comparing McDonald's to In&Out - the menu selection may be similar, but the quality of food is radically different...Continue Reading
I want to say thank you to a man, a man, I'm sure, most of you are familiar with. A man whose unmitigated arrogance and exaggerated self-confidence actually led me to one of my most cherished dining discoveries. Bobby Flay, if it wasn't for that historic episode of Throw Down in 2008, I would have never made Caracas Arepa Bar a dining destination on my visit to New York City. Without you sir, I would have never known the messy, all-encompassing delight of a perfectly cooked arepa...Continue Reading
Nine weeks, three extra pounds, and 21 check-ins later, I think it's just about time to write an update to my first glowing review. If you follow me on Twitter (KelsEats), you've likely seen my daily morning tweet, which serves 2 purposes. First it says to the world, "Guess what!? I'm at Knead!" in case anyone wanted to stalk me. Secondly, that little tweet illustrates my full-blown, uncontrollable addiction to those evil little pastries better than any words could describe...Continue Reading
For the last two months I've been on a burger binge. For absolutely no reason, I've had an uncontrollable urge to stuff myself with simple, raw, beefy goodness, and both my friends and my figure have begun to take notice. I've indulged my cravings at NOPA, Bar Tartine, Serpentine, Fish & Farm, Cafe des Amis, Burgermeister, and Big Mouth Burgers, only to be left wanting more. And last week, just when I thought the cravings had died down, I stumbled upon B3, the Mission's new burger-focused restaurant located a mere two blocks from my front door. After my first bite, I knew this restaurant was created purely to destroy me...Continue Reading
It's no secret that I consider Chef Daniel Patterson to be one of the two best chefs in San Francisco (Matthew Accarrino of SPQR being the second), and just simply a culinary genius. Every interaction I've had with him has been friendly but professional, and more importantly, extremely interesting; I have no doubt that if I had the means, I would eat at Coi every week. So, you can imagine my excitement when I heard that, for a limited time only, he'd be in the kitchen at Il Cane Rosso heading up the Plum preview dinners...Continue Reading
If you've lived in the City in the last couple of years, you've probably heard that Flour + Water is kind of a big deal. With endless praise from local critics, a Beard nomination under its belt, and a young, good-looking executive chef (Thomas McNaughton, named one San Francisco's Rising Stars by Star Chefs), Flour + Water has clearly built quite the reputation. Plus, it has a cool name.
The problem is, because of its reputation, this small neighborhood restaurant has quickly become one of the most popular in the City. Nowadays it's nearly impossible to pop in for even a weekday dinner without having to wait 45-90 minutes for a table. Hell, even Steve Jobs was recently told he had to wait, or come back another time. Lacking a full bar and only offering eager diners an uncomfortable "waiting" area that holds roughly six people, waiting this long for a casual dinner frankly seems like a joke. So, no matter how good the food may be, it's going to be hard for any diner to overcome the expectations that come along with both the hype and the wait....Continue Reading
For weeks after dining at Mario's, a North Beach stand-by that sits on the park, I was agonizing over my decision to award it 4 or 5 stars. After much pacing, and a fair amount of blood and tears, it finally hit me: their specialty hot focaccia sandwich(es) have become the end-all be-all sandwich to which I compare all other sandwiches. In the last couple of weeks, every time I eat a sandwich (which seems to be fairly frequently at the moment), I catch myself saying, "It's good, but it's not as good as Mario's." Apparently, Mario's has set the upper limit of my sandwich scale, and if that's not reason enough to give this place 5 stars, I don't know what is...