The Kauff calls out the izakaya explosion "centered on small, cooked dishes and a flurry of foods on a stick" and two new contributors to its spread: "Kasumi, a sparkly little thing in the Parkside, and Chotto, a smoldering beauty in the Marina." It looks like Kauff got the same annoying waiter as Bauer (!) at Chotto, but there's no denying Chef Armando Justo does some beautiful things with a charcoal grill, like the mackerel and the pork ribs. Across town he thinks Kasumi is just as good as Izakaya Sozai. The waiters may not totally get izakaya etiquette, skewers are hit or miss and not surprisingly, items with pork or bacon came out best. Also skip the ramen and go for chazuke ($6) "a humble dish, its salt bursts and sea-swept smells serene." [SF Weekly]
Reidinger takes a critical eye to the 33-year-old Chinese vegetarian restaurant, Shangri-La in the Sunset. Here cuisine is cooked "under kosher supervision," the vibe is "atmospheric rather than moody" and "service staff was cheerful and remarkably knowledgeable." Despite Reidinger's suspicion of fake meats, the "cooking is outstanding and reasonably priced." He goes off about a few things: a plate of spicy cucumber, green onion cake, Szechuan-style spicy noodles and the meatless Mu Shu where "the uninvited guest really wasn't missed much." [SFBG]
The Thursday Datebook review is in Oakland at Enoteca Molinari "a decidedly family affair." On the menu from Lalime vet Steve Jaramillo, the plates are small, the prices are very reasonable and "service runs well." Highlights include tuna crostini, insalata di finocchio ("visually dazzling"), braised Marin Sun pork ("a standout") and owner Joe Madison's deft skill with wine pairings. So the wine bar, which is actually more of a small restaurant, gets up to 2.5 stars. [Chron]
The Elsewhere: EBX reviews the healthy German fare at Gaumenkitzel, The Merc is charmed by Frances, Marin IJ gets excited by Pizza Orgasmica, Metro SV is impressed by what Los Gatos' Enoteca La Storia does without a kitchen, Bar Bites calls the maple bourbon pudding at Comstock Saloon a must try and finally Bargain Bite has breakfast for dinner at Savor in Noe Valley.