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Bauer Forgives Amber Dhara; Roth Digs Izakaya Goku

Photo: Amber Dhara/Facebook

When Bauer first visited Amber Dhara, he found the Indian spot "self-consciously hip" and "disappointing." But with new chef Manish Tyagi in the kitchen, he's found forgiveness in his heart. The menu is now "smaller and more interesting," with creative uses of the senses, from the "cooling" chandani gosht to the "scorching" pork chop vindaloo. Cocktails are "now better balanced" as well. "I can't resist ordering jaisalmeri bhindi each time I visit," gushed Micky B., but he felt mixed about the "greasy" avocado poori and salty minced lamb patties. In terms of ambiance, Bauer still isn't totally sold: "the space, and at times the service, feel awkward." And he's still waiting for chef Tyagi to spread his wings: "Given the chance, I think his star will continue to ascend." Two stars. [Chron]

Anna Roth paid a visit to Ramen Izakaya Goku, the new ramen spot that's serving up late night bowls to hungry Mission-goers. Small plates like the takoyaki ("like seafood croquettes") impressed Roth, who also liked the "pleasant oceany flavor" of the soft monkfish liver and "smokey" batons of deep-fried burdock root. The ramen ranged from lackluster (the "rich tonkotsu") to "beautiful" (katkusu pork ramen) and "one of the best Goku offered" (clam-and-garlic ramen), but Roth didn't get enough heat, even after selecting the hottest spice index. "Goku isn't the best ramen in the world, or even in the city, but it may well be the best in the Mission" ... for now. [SF Weekly]

Jon Kauffman checked out the new Champa Garden, where the "cult" rice-ball salad rules the day, alongside the "robust flavor" of Lue's noodle soup. "The Thai dishes on Champa Garden's menu are more familiar than memorable," says Kauffman, "and the cooks are still feeling their way into seasoning the beef larp brightly enough to relish," but he gives this Thai/Lao/Californian fusion a "notable nod." [Tasting Table]

Wendy Hector got her crepe fix at the FiDi's Galette 88, where the "earthy rustic flavor" and "elastic chewiness" of The Complete (a buckwheat galette filled with melted Emmentaler cheese, thin-sliced ham and topped with a soft, runny egg) put all past crepes into perspective. The "spectacular" Bruce's Choice (a salty, creamy concoction with meaty hunks of smoked Atlantic salmon, sharp capers, soft caramelized onions and creme fraiche) kept her coming back for more, and The Bleu Velvet (melted bleu d'Auvergne with toasted almonds, honey and tender cooked apple) "unexpectedly earned" Hector's affection. "Once you sit down and dig into your galette, time slows down." [Examiner]

Luke Tsai headed over to Homestead, where he found the food "just really, really good." From the duck confit ("the juiciest, most tender duck confit I can recall eating") to the roasted pork ("you wind up with an explosion of flavors") to the grilled rib-eye steak "served perfectly medium-rare," Tsai was wowed by this new spot. "This is home cooking elevated to high art," he says, noting that "what really excites me about Homestead is a certain playfulness." [EBX]

· All Week in Reviews [~ ESF ~]


4029 Piedmont Avenue, , CA 94611 (510) 420-6962 Visit Website

Amber Dhara

680 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94110 (415) 400-5699 Visit Website