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Week in Reviews: Jai Yun Downgraded to a Deuce

Michael Bauer pays a revisit to the recently-moved Jai Yun, where Nei' Chia Ji is still putting out arguably the best Chinese food in the city. Problem is, even though the food remains the same, Bauer thinks it's high time for some modernization with the move to the bigger space on Clay:

In the move to "grander" quarters, a little of the magic has been lost - enough to make some of the inconveniences seem more annoying. Jai Yun is no longer a hole in the wall, but it's still run like one. Prices are no longer inexpensive, and getting enough cash to pay the bill is a major inconvenience. The restaurant should have a printed menu that explains the various pricing options, especially if the menu it doesn't change dramatically from night to night.
In his call for some evolution from Jai Yun—not dissimilar from Robert Lauriston's take some weeks back—Bauer downgrades the Chinese favorite and Top 100 mainstay a whole star down to two stars. [Chron]

Paul Reidinger is at Namu, the Inner Richmond's Japanese-Korean-burger joint that has amassed quite the following in its year of existence: "If you were rushing along the sidewalk, you could probably pick your way past without too much fancy footwork, but you'd notice the crowd, certainly, and wonder what was up. Part of what is up is certainly chef Dennis Lee's cooking ... Although Namu's menu includes elements of both Japanese and fusion cooking, its most striking quality is its elegant recasting of Korean themes. It's not quite a Korean bistro, but it's more than a step in that direction and away from the traditional Korean barbecue." [SFBG]

Inspired by the inspiring likes of Jeffrey Steingarten and Rachael Ray, Meredith Brody goes on a fondue field trip to Berkeley's Fondue Fred and finally ends up at North Beach's Melt: "For my last foray into the world of fondue, I try Melt, which appears to be, from its somewhat breathless Web site, an all-things-to-all-people casual North Beach hangout: free Wi-Fi, projected movies, open-mike nights, trivia contests ... I'm happily surprised when the small fondue turns out to be the real deal: It's as heady, fragrant, thick, and characteristically elastic as the elusive fondue of my dreams." [SFW]

In another Chron two-star affair, Carol Ness crosses the bay for Berkeley newbie Digs Bistro, the cozy 35-seater that was once an underground restaurant, but finds that shades of amateurism still persist: "On one visit, daunted by a pile of almost tasteless Anson Mills polenta and kale under the otherwise good and tomatoey lamb stew, I couldn't help thinking that the food reminded me more of dinner at the table of friends who are good cooks, instead of something that would cost $100-plus with a few glasses of wine." [Chron]

ELSEWHERE: The Napa Valley Register discovers Napa Mexican at Frida's, while Marin's paper loves the faux-Chinese food at P.F. Chang's. Lady Hopstress does brunch at Dosa and down in San Jose, the Merc's Aleta Watson is at Tomo Sushi.


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