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Bauer Disappointed at Ozumo; Roth Samples Xi'an Food

At the urging of Ozumo's owners, Bauer returned to the Japanese restaurant six years after his initial two-star review. He remains struck by the luxurious ambiance and Bay views, but found the food lackluster at times. After ordering the Chef's Osusume menu for a cool $125, things got to an "inauspicious" start with an unbalanced slice of cucumber with duck confit, candied kumquat and wasabi cream. Bauer felt meh about the "pleasant but not memorable" octopus and "not earth-shatteringly wonderful" oysters, but he did like the "on point" shredded kale and sushi assortment. All in all, "the meal wasn't impressive." "While I liked most of what I had, the meal lacked the precision that often goes with this style of food." 2.5 stars. [Chron]

Anna Roth took a voyage of discovery through the cuisine of China's Xi'an region, as exemplified in two San Francisco restaurants. First up was Xi An Gourmet at Second and Geary, where she found "thick, chewy skins" and an "intense gaminess" in the traditional lamb dumplings, "intriguing" spicy octopus tentacles and "fatty, grilled, cumin-scented" Shaanxi lamb sandwich. Although the meal "was a bit of an ordeal," "the food spoke for itself." Next up was House of Xi'an Dumpling, where "fatty, generous skewers" of lamb, doughy, wrinkly dumplings and "excellent, fortifying" hand-pulled noodle soups hit the spot. "Decadent" beef tendon came in "luscious, silky" broth, and Roth declared the chicken soup "one of the best bowls of the stuff I've ever had the good fortune to come across." [SF Weekly]

Meanwhile, Kauffman got into a bowl at Ramen Yamadaya, a new addition to San Francisco's "Ramen Row revival." Although the spot is "still getting its act together," its signature black garlic kotteri ramen "beats any other bowl in Japantown." The milky pork broth "has a feral funk to it" without being sticky or fatty, and the skinny noodles are "at peak chewiness" for 10 lovely minutes. Kauffman's advice? "Slurp fast." [Tasting Table]

Molly Gore headed to Russian Hill to check out Stones Throw, where she found her private romance (i.e. duck fat) "appropriated and employed to seduce the masses." The ambiance and food are an "inoffensive take on a kind of faux-rustic Californianism," and your mother would love it. The "gorgeous" sunchoke soup, "playful" puffed potato and eggs and "smoldering mystery" of a duck breast were all plenty good, but Gore found it all a little safe. "There's nothing distracting or offensive about it," but "I endured an abstract boredom for a good deal of the meal." [Examiner]

Luke Tsai checked out Charlie Hallowell's new spot Penrose, a "beautiful" space with a "red-hot, flickering heart" from the wood fireplace in which most of the food is grilled. Small plates impressed with a "rollicking, improvised quality," like grilled polenta topped with pork ragu ("as soulful as anything an Italian grandmother might make"), and a "perfectly executed" grilled skirt steak with "brightly acidic" chimichurri sauce. Tsai quibbled over the pricing and other details, but in the time between his two visits, Hallowell fired his opening chef and taken over the kitchen himself, and suddenly everything became "tastier and more generously portioned." "As long as he's the one writing each night's menu, I'll want to go back to see what he's cooking." [EBX]

Stones Throw

1896 Hyde Street, , CA 94109 (415) 796-2901 Visit Website


3311 Grand Ave., Oakland, CA 94610 (510) 444-1649 Visit Website


161 Steuart St., San Francisco CA