The January issue of San Francisco magazine comes with Josh Sens' shooting three stars at the new Ron Siegel regime at Michael Mina. Sens comes out with a jab, saying the restaurant is more "self-professed foodies looking for a safe adventure," than "my kind of restaurant," but Siegel is refining the formula. Now the menu is "more subtle and appealing," the Japanese bent is stronger, and "there is still [Mina's signature] theater, but more subtle." Sens recs the $125 six-course tasting menu as the "best way to experience the restaurant because it showcases Siegel's nimble work with seafood." Further evidence, that a Michelin upgrade is indeed within reach. [San Fran Mag]
Anna Roth finds YakiniQ in Japantown, serving "a pretty good local version" of Korean barbecue, not known to be one of San Francisco's strong suits. Just after the dining room turns into an impromptu "Gangnam Style" dance party, she digs into the $23.99 meat platter, including "bulgogi, beef tongue, and pork neck." There's a "decent" selection of banchan, but—due to the gas flame cooking mechanism—she misses the "the smoky flavor that charcoal imparts." Despite not knowing how long to cook some of the meats, "the meal was a nice change of pace from the usual restaurant courses — and a more exciting one, especially fortified with soju and large plastic bottles of Korean Hite beer." [SF Weekly]
Bauer is back for a re-review of Justin Everett's "scaled back and simplified" regime at Murray Circle, and he still thinks there are slight problems with execution. See the California endive salad, which tastes "like eating holiday potpourri." Winners include a "perfectly sauteed" duck breast, "sophisticated and well integrated" desserts, and views of the "ghostly lit spires of the Golden Gate Bridge." Murray Circle stays at 2.5 stars, across the board. [Chron]
THE ELSEWHERE: EBX tries offal and ravioli at Belli Osteria in Berkeley; The Merc is disappointed that the cheesecake at Plate & Vine in Concord isn't homemade; Marin IJ likens Odalisque Café in San Rafael to Tchaikovsky; The Chron loves the laid-back atmosphere of De Afghanan in Livermore.