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Bauer Sees Hawker Fare Grow Up; Sens Sees White Unicorn at Pink Zebra

Plus: Roth is underwhelmed by Tap(415); a shiny new Outerlands emerges from the fog.

Patricia Spencer Design

After learning that Hawker Fare will open a new location in the Mission, Bauer revisited the Oakland outpost. On his second visit, he found that the food at Hawker Fare is "more fully realized" and chef James Syhabout has developed "an even deeper connection to his background." A wallet-friendly menu leaves Bauer with a good taste in his mouth, and "the food is so on-point that the restaurant deserves three stars." Generous portions of dishes like lemongrass-perfumed grilled half chicken ($13), Northern Thai sausage with mashed green chile sauce, cucumber, fried pork rind and mint are "the sort of food that, when savored, opens up like a morning glory." The second visit not only revealed an improved menu and full liquor license, but inspired Bauer to become "a member of the clean-plate club." Three stars. [Chron]

Luke Tsai got a taste of another Oakland "restaurant" that's bringing Asian flavors to light: POP, a sandwich shop set up in the back of Chez Mado, a convenience store. The chef, owner, and sole employee of this hidden gem is Ian De Leoz, a fine-dining refugee from the likes of Bar Crudo and Ame. Tsai finds that "the only thing that POP has going for it is the sandwiches themselves," but that is "more than enough." Sandwiches are "loosely banh mi-inspired" and served on crusty baguettes from a Vietnamese bakery in East Oakland, including a  "broken-yolk fried egg" sandwich with cheese and house-made sambal aoli that "might be the most addictive dish" Tsai tried. A pork adobo sandwich boasts braised pork shoulder with sambal aioli and crispy fried garlic; it's the most popular menu item, and "a damn good sandwich." In fact, there are "no duds...[these are] some of the best sandwiches in town." [East Bay Express]

In other counter-cultural Asian food news, Josh Sens found his happy place at Pink Zebra, where "inspired mongrel dishes" and "unpredictable delights" abound. The chef, Jesse Koide, "roams the Mediterranean, spreading Japanese flavors as he goes," with dishes like braised beef tongue garnished with seaweed-and-persimmion salsa verde and popcorn with crispy pig ears, sprinkled with lime and furikake. Not all dishes delighted: the "complicated sea bass", served with roe, beets,  green olives and a parsley-bread salsa, "brings to mind visions of a food fight at the U.N." Sens also discovers a five-seat sushi bar inside this "Trojan horse of a restaurant," where Domo vet Ryo Sakai serves up fish "too pristine for soy sauce soakings" on his omakase menu. Overall, Sens found what he was looking for at this "Russian-doll-like restaurant-within-a-restaurant." 2.5 stars. [San Francisco Magazine]

Across town, Anna Roth is less enchanted by the Westfield Centre's newest attempt at fine dining. Tap(415) offers a menu of "updated bar-snacks-meets-hearty-German-fare," but it's "almost certainly trying too hard." A great list of local beers on tap, including Almanac, Lost Coast and Magnolia, is the "best thing Tap(415) has going for it," and will "do for a quick break from the shopping madness," even though the dining room lined with TVs reminds Roth of a "sports-gambling room in Vegas." The food menu does not follow the tap list's "simple, well-balanced" example. An otherwise good burger is "spoiled by a topping of tempura bacon," while chicken wings with "muddy mole sauce" disappoint. Entrees are more successful, but Roth is not convinced that this new addition to the "Restaurant Collection Under the Dome" will be the one to elevate Westfield Centre's dining options. "It is definitely still a mall." [SF Weekly]

Way, way across town in the Outer Sunset, Bauer visited Outerlands for the first time since its expansion a few months back. The new iteration is "twice as big and three times more polished,"  with a menu to match. After several chef shuffles, Bayani Inclano and Brooke Mosley are now at the helm, with "slightly different, but compatible" styles of cooking. One of the "most memorable dishes in recent memory" is the clam stew ($25), featuring seafood in its shells, and "mild, smoky barbecue flavor from red chimichurri, with ground pork, chrysanthemum and white beans nestled in the broth." Married owners David Muller and Lana Porcello now bake the crave-worthy breads and make pastas themselves; in fact, Bauer knows some patrons "so in love with it that they eat at Outerlands for the bread alone." Not all dishes stand out— "many of the preparations came across as slightly muddled," like a "grain salad ($11) with sprouted wheat berries, quinoa, beets and cucumbers, reminiscent of a warm tabbouleh salad." The restaurant has "grown up and become more polished," but managed to retain "its unique character." 2.5 stars. [Chron]

The Examiner's Alex Hochman has sussed out a seafood spot that will put Bernal Heights on the map for something other than sky-high real estate prices. Red Hill Station, from Taylor Pederson and Amy Redicker, brings a "community vibe" and "some of the best-prepared seafood in San Francisco" to the quaint neighborhood. Highlights included fresh oysters with a "perky mignonette," "chubby mussels" that were "bathed in a puddle of lime rema, serrano chilies and cilantro" and sopped up with Acme levain, and linguine with clams that "harkened taste memories of mom-and-pop Italian joints on the south shore of Long Island." Red Hill Station is a "neighborhood gem" in an area with few sit-down dining options. [Examiner]

garnishing braised beef tongue with seaweed-and-persimmon salsa verde, - See more at: http://www.modernluxury.com/san-francisco/story/down-the-rabbit-hole#sthash.CVxMW2uK.dpuf
Who would have thought of garnishing braised beef tongue with seaweed-and-persimmon salsa verde, the diced fruit sweetening the salty greenery and both enhancing the tender meat? Koide did, and the world is better for it. - See more at: http://www.modernluxury.com/san-francisco/story/down-the-rabbit-hole#sthash.CVxMW2uK.dpuf
Who would have thought of garnishing braised beef tongue with seaweed-and-persimmon salsa verde, the diced fruit sweetening the salty greenery and both enhancing the tender meat? Koide did, and the world is better for it. - See more at: http://www.modernluxury.com/san-francisco/story/down-the-rabbit-hole#sthash.CVxMW2uK.dpuf
Who would have thought of garnishing braised beef tongue with seaweed-and-persimmon salsa verde, the diced fruit sweetening the salty greenery and both enhancing the tender meat? Koide did, and the world is better for it. - See more at: http://www.modernluxury.com/san-francisco/story/down-the-rabbit-hole#sthash.CVxMW2uK.dpuf
Who would have thought of garnishing braised beef tongue with seaweed-and-persimmon salsa verde, the diced fruit sweetening the salty greenery and both enhancing the tender meat? Koide did, and the world is better for it. - See more at: http://www.modernluxury.com/san-francisco/story/down-the-rabbit-hole#sthash.CVxMW2uK.dpuf

Pink Zebra

3515 20th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

Outerlands

4001 Judah Street, , CA 94122 (415) 661-6140 Visit Website

Hawker Fare

2300 Webster Street, Oakland, CA 94612 510 832 8896

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