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Yuzuki Japanese Eatery (Mission District, San Francisco)

I like this place a lot. If you want to try Japanese cuisine outside the typical sushi/noodles vein then this is a good introduction to it. I really like the kakiage here and the various prepared rice pots where they steam the rice with high quality ingredients. The flavors are subtle but well seasoned.

Hapa Ramen -- What price ramen? [San Francisco]

The ramen they serve out of their Ferry Building stall certainly isn't worth $16. Chashu made with big chunks of pork shoulder simply doesn't work IMO. It was like biting into ham.

Although looking at their menu I guess they switched to pork belly. I'm still pretty skeptical of this. I generally don't think pork belly works well in ramen.

Paprika -- 24th St just off Mission [San Francisco]

I've only had the sausages but they were decent. Well seasoned. I generally prefer the beer selection at Rosamunde and they also serve sausages so I rarely have a reason to visit Paprika.

Trip report: Parks BBQ and Shunji

Was visiting from SF for a concert over the weekend and I somehow managed to convince my friends to check out these two places which come highly recommended on Chow.

Parks BBQ: We ordered the Prime Ggot Sal, Parks Galbi, and the Seasoned Pork Belly. Really good quality meat. The marbling on the ggot sal was gorgeous. Surprising variety of banchan. But overall the experience wasn't quite what I was expecting. No rice, ssamjang, or lettuce unless I asked for it. Very limited kimchi selection (no kkakdugi? are you serious!?). Overall the focus was on sweet stuff, not so much spicy or savory stuff. Between two people, we couldn't even really eat the pork belly after finishing the beef. I still loved the meal though so no complaints. I think I'd like to try out a more traditional KBBQ place though.

Shunji: Disaster. Allergies hit me hard and I couldn't find any Benadryl in time for my meal. I was really looking forward to this to compare it to sushi in the Bay Area. But now my sense of smell was shot and I was blowing my nose all the time. So I'm going to avoid making comparisons about flavor. Also it should be noted that Shunji himself was out of town during my dinner.

Overall I loved my meal but I would not call it a perfect experience. We all got the full omakase menu sitting at the bar. The otsumami were hit or miss. Some of them were too cold. Some of them were too large and so I got bored of them halfway through. Some of them (the truffle oil squid ink egg yolk one) were total misses. Favorite bites probably include the persimmon, the ankimo, the shrimp boiled in matsutake broth, and the steamed wagyu in that sukiyaki type presentation.

For the sushi, I'm ambivalent about the shari. It was on the wetter side and very loose. I think I prefer mine a bit drier with toothy grains of rice. Can't really comment on the flavor because of the allergies. The neta was very good. Some of them almost had a snappy quality which I guess is owing to freshness? One thing I did dislike was the usage of salts. When that small ball of salt hits your tongue, the distribution of saltiness is completely off and it detracts from the fish.

So after this one trip, I'm not convinced yet LA has better sushi than SF. The research project shall continue however...

Nov 11, 2014
ajyi2012 in Los Angeles Area

Lazy Bear res for January? [San Francisco]

I dined at Lazy Bear on Halloween night and in my opinion it was my favorite meal of the year. I detected no issues with technical execution with any of the dishes. The ingredients were delicious, and I think the preparations were simple enough that I could tell if I was eating crappy scallops or duck.

I would agree that it's not as creative as Benu or Crenn...but IMO it makes up for it by simply being more tasty. It's hard for me to remember individual courses from Crenn (and the ones I do remember tend to be based more on their elaborate presentation rather than the flavor). But at Lazy Bear, the bacon infused scrambled egg amusee, the matsutake broth, even the Benu-inspired salmon/ikura/foam dish that tasted like a breath of the sea, all of it sticks in my memory because of how good it tasted.

What I loved most about Lazy Bear is how Barzelay consistently plays with textures. Lots of crunchy or crispy or chewy elements. Something a bit sweet in a savory dish, or something bitter in a sweet dish. Oh, and really, really good butter.

It does remind me of SBP in a lot of ways. It's SBP if the chef could control every minute of your experience so you don't accidentally end up with one of the weaker dishes from the carts that may have been sitting around for half an hour.

One Day in SF

Oh you've been to Alinea so I can tell you nothing in SF will really match that experience, regardless of Michelin stars. I consider Alinea my gold standard dining experience which is why I was not terribly impressed with either Benu or Crenn, especially for the cost. Presentation, creativity, taste, service, ambiance, everything was inferior.

I was joking about the truffles but you are coming in at an interesting time. I'm not sure if white truffles will still be available when you visit but that is one thing I'd be willing to splurge on since the flavor and scent is so unforgettable. I know Acquerello offers a truffle tasting menu ($395 if you wanna go HAM) and I enjoyed my one dining experience there.

One Day in SF

What do you mean by high end though? Just $$$$? Molecular gastronomy? Service? Expensive wine list? Rarefied ambiance? $100 white truffle upgrades?

One Day in SF

I like Benu and Crenn but if I honestly were to recommend a restaurant for a visitor I'd point them to State Bird. Cheaper, less rarefied, and a more fun experience overall. I consider Lazy Bear to be in the same vein. What a place like Benu does better is more elaborate presentation and better service, but in terms of pure enjoyment I wouldn't say one is better than the other.

YakiniQ Grill in Japantown, San Francisco

I remember eating here and thinking the galbi and bulgogi was far too sweet for my liking. The gyeran jjim (steamed egg) was bland, as you said. The kimchee was surprisingly good, sour with a bit of bite. But overall it didn't leave much of an impression.

Tokyo for new year 2014

Question: so I understand most sushi/seafood places will be closed, but what about stuff like ramen or kushiyaki or izakayas?

Nov 02, 2014
ajyi2012 in Japan

Orenchi Ramen, San Francisco [Orenchi Beyond]

I think the curds you saw was emulsified fat and collagen from the pork stock.

Orenchi Ramen, San Francisco [Orenchi Beyond]

Went today. Had the Beyond Ramen. Really good. The broth, the noodles...San Francisco finally has a great ramen-ya. And $12!!! Tempted to go every week. If they just expanded their beer/sake/shochu selection Orenchi would be a half decent izakaya too. They had a huge food menu.

Wait wasn't bad at all but I did show up 40 minute before opening. Turnover seems pretty fast and there are a decent number of seats.

Saison and Benu 3 stars [San Francisco]

My one experience at Benu was that it was pretty good but if they took out 3-4 weaker courses and dropped the price a bit then I would have left with a better impression than I did. As is I'm baffled at how it's worthy of three stars. Maybe previous/recent incarnations of the menu are better?

What's the word on Kirimachi Ramen on Broadway? [San Francisco]

Oh awesome. I remember liking Kirimachi in their old North Beach location. Hopefully it'll be much better than Ramen Bar...

Longtime resident at a loss for a favorite sushi place... Kusakabe a disappointment...

If you don't like saucing or creative preparations then you definitely won't enjoy Sushi Ran, which is where Kusakabe used to work at. My meal there included lots of aged, marinated, charred, and smoked fish. Still one of the best sushi meals I've ever had, but I wouldn't call it traditional.

Shunji without Shunji?

Had been planning on visiting Shunji while I was in town for a concert, but it sounds like the eponymous chef will be visiting Japan that weekend. So does anyone have experience with the quality at Shunji when he's not in the kitchen? Is it still worth a trip or should I switch to another restaurant?

Oct 20, 2014
ajyi2012 in Los Angeles Area

Longtime resident at a loss for a favorite sushi place... Kusakabe a disappointment...

Just to offer a contrary opinion, I thought the amount of food served was about perfect. I had to basically force myself to eat extra nigiri at the end just because I wanted to taste some of the options they offered. I skipped breakfast and had a light lunch so I wasn't exactly full either. I guess the food amount depends on the person. You really don't want to be eating sushi until you're stuffed.

Kusakabe is pretty creative with the fish but IMO it's always been well balanced. Compare to Ichi who can be heavy handed with the acid or shiso sometimes.

And the non-nigiri courses were far better than anything you'd get at Maruya or Akiko. I think it compares favorably to Benu.

As for pacing, well it wasn't as if Kusakabe was ever standing idle. And sitting at the bar, it's always entertaining watching them prepare the courses (he gets this wicked grin when he breaks out the blowtorch). It was a bit slow but I was never bored.

The Ramen Bar opening 6/30/14 & Pabu opening 7/1/14, SF 101 Calif Street

I'm curious if anyone's tried the sushi at Pabu. Neither of the founders seem to have any pedigree in sushi so I'm wondering if the omakase is any good.

Value sushi spots and Thai spots with reliable service [San Francisco]

Saru in Noe Valley is a good suggestion. I like Akiko in Financial District as well.

Best Burger in Bay Area?

I like this burger a lot as well.

For cheap burgers, I really like the burger at Split Bread. The balance between burger, bread, sauce and veggies is good.

Ramen Yokocho in Bay Area! (San Jose)

The Tatsunoya bowl was decent for a street festival thing but I don't think it comes anywhere close to Orenchi. The broth wasn't as thick and rich, minimal toppings, the noodles were thinner (different style), and I felt like it didn't absorb the broth well. Maybe because it wasn't drained well? The chashu was very good though.

Regarding the festival itself, the express ticket was indeed an insane value. Being able to skip a line with 50 people in it is absolutely worth $20 IMO. But after three partially eaten bowls I was stuffed. I thought attendance was shockingly low compared to the Japantown festival. The biggest line was for Kohmen and that was maybe 50-75 people?

The noodles I ate were all decent, even the champon which I generally don't like. Unfortunately it's a pain to get to San Jose from here so I probably won't return.

neighborhood restaurant recommendations for November in SF?

I don't recommend staying in Mission simply because there are not many hotels here, and the ones I have seen look pretty run down.

I guess you could risk an AirBnB if you wanna go that route.

Noe Valley is not the best location to stay because you're at the mercy of irregular Muni schedules with no BART access.

I honestly recommend staying downtown close to a BART station. There are plenty of great restaurants in Financial District and SoMa and North Beach/Nob Hill/Tenderloin are not far away. You can always stay late in Mission and catch an Uber back (which pretty much everyone else does anyway). You could even theoretically walk back if you wanna experience the really-not-that-bad underbelly of San Francisco.

Ippuku - Izakaya in Berkeley

That depends on what you want.

If all you want is yakitori, then Ippuku is pretty good for that.

If you want upscale non-sushi Japanese, then I prefer the food at Yuzuki Japanese Eatery. The styles aren't really the same as Yuzuki is mostly refined kyoryori, but I think they execute at a much higher level than Ippuku. Yuzuki arguably has a better sake selection also.

Ippuku - Izakaya in Berkeley

Been here twice now. It's pretty decent (and a great date spot) but it's just pricey enough and not quite good enough that I don't think I'll be coming back (it doesn't help that it's a bit of a schlep from downtown SF).

Good things: any of the chicken skewers, gingko nuts, shochu and whiskey selection, ambiance

Okay: Zaru soba (too cold imo), leek pancake

Misses: Yamaimo, gyutan (is tongue supposed to be that chewy?), camembert (barely heated through), chicken gyoza (no flavor), karaage (barely marinated chicken and crappy batter)

Help finalizing restaurants, deserts, cocktail/speakeasy, as well as opinions on SF staples

I wouldn't go that far. Chipotle is by no means authentic but it's still pretty tasty, and I've had plenty of bad burritos in the Mission.

Papalote is notable because the meat is cooked to order, and they have some esoteric fillings. It's hard to argue that they taste fresher than a lot of taquerias that serve meat that's been sitting in a container for a few hours, but this is a distinction that perhaps only matters to a few. I'd consult the list at Burrito Eater (http://www.burritoeater.com/taquerias...) and see which one interests you.

And make sure you're ordering a super burrito, not a naked one.

The FiveThirtyEight Does Burritos

Wow. I don't get it. I've only tried the carnitas burrito once at La Taqueria and what I had was fairly good but there just wasn't enough filling to put it anywhere anywhere near the same league as Cancun or even La Espiga. I guess the silver lining is my favorite places won't get mobbed with tourists...

Maruya on 16th, best sushi in SF?

I guess I'm used to inflated prices in San Francisco. I compare a nigiri-heavy meal at Maruya compared to something at say Keiko or even La Folie at similar price points and I prefer Maruya. I know, different cuisines, but I just want to contest the idea that Maruya is somehow a poor value proposition.

I've been to Maruya twice and my experience has been this: great nigiri, but their otsumami stuff (the vegetables and the pickles) is forgettable. I understand they're trying to duplicate the traditional kaiseki style courses but either the vegetables here aren't that good or my taste buds are too Americanized. Kusakabe is much better in this respect.

Also I don't understand the obsession with purity when it comes to sushi here. Fact of the matter is we Americans will never get the best quality fish. Even stuff flown in from Tsukiji overnight will have been sitting in an icebox for half a day. So given that constraint, is it really that audacious to dress up sushi a bit? Do we criticize a restaurant for serving a Niman Ranch strip with a complex sauce? I frankly loved the smoked fish (I think it was bonito?) served at Sushi Ran. It was better than the mediocre but otherwise naked toro they served.

Maruya on 16th, best sushi in SF?

I'm eager to try sushi in LA (I assume Kiriko, Mori, Shunji?) and Tokyo (trying to get reservations at Iwa, Kanesaka, maybe Kyubei) because I think the sushi I've had at Kusakabe, Ran, Maruya, et al to be really tasty. It's hard for me to imagine sushi being, say, 2x better than any of these places.

The FiveThirtyEight Does Burritos

Nice writeup of El Castillito. Interestingly they like the Mission location, despite it not doing so well on Burritoeater's list.

http://fivethirtyeight.com/datalab/ou...

Okonomiyaki: SFBA Dish of the Month August 2014

Damn, I didn't realize they had katsuobushi on the side. This version was pretty good I thought, it just needed more components because it was a little bland. Katsuobushi, more sauce, more fresh benishoga, maybe a fried egg...