[Photo: Ann L./Yelp]
Bauer checked in on the work of new Izakaya Yuzuki chef Kentaro Ikuta with this week's update review, noting the "pure and understated" flavors that make ample use of koji. Kara-age chicken is marinated in salt koji, and comes fried "with a super-charged bronze crust," and "it's hard to know where the koji's magic ends and Ikuta's immense skill takes over" in dishes such as the cured and air-dried horse mackerel. "Subtle but distinctive" obanzai, "creamy" homemade tofu and distinctive rice all impressed Bauer, and the restaurant "definitely brings something different to the San Francisco dining scene." Once Ikuta is more accustomed to the kitchen and the clientele, Izakaya Yuzuki "should be packing them in." 2.5 stars. [Chron]
Roth stopped off at the newly upgraded Schroeder's, where she observes that the decision to "forcibly bring the restaurant" into modern days has "lost part of what made it so endearing in the first place." Sure, the old spot "felt old and tired," but "the fact that it was almost aggressively unhip made it attractive in the first place." Now, "it's swung in the other direction," with an "elegantly modernized" interior and "earnest" California-German small plates from chef Manfred Wrembel, who's "done an admirable job" with dishes like the "excellent" Brussels sprouts, "well-fried" wiener schnitzel and "ambitious" beef tongue. Other dishes were just "fine," and the charcuterie plate "was a major disappointment," but the "major deterrent" was the noise level at happy hour. For all its artful updates, this is not a place where Roth's newspaper peers would hang out. Though she appreciated the changeable nature of the restaurant, it's "no longer scrappy and therefore no longer appealing." [SF Weekly]
Meanwhile, Molly Gore took a gander at Daniel Patterson's newly renamed and reimagined Ume (previously Plum). "While the flavors depart from those of Plum's old menu, the effect is rather similar," but though Ume's menu is "mostly successful," Gore "expected more surprising turns and more discreetly inventive riffing." "Ume's lower price point might be the most exciting thing about it," though Gore's favorite dish was a "shy" soft scramble of yuba and maitake mushrooms. Though it's "not exactly Japanese ... eating at Ume kind of feels like being in Patterson's kitchen after hours." [Examiner]
Luke Tsai checked out Senegalese spot Bissap Baobab's new Oakland expansion, where "the chief innovation" is something called an "Afro wrap" ("basically a West African take on a burrito").
Food was up-and-down at the new spot, which aims to be a lunch destination, though if you're in a hurry, "calling ahead for takeout would be a safer bet." Despite some tiny chicken bones, Tsai enjoyed the chicken yassa wrap with mustard-based caramelized-onion sauce and pleasantly creamy avocados. Though the niebe thies was Tsai's "least favorite" dish and the spiciness factor needed to be kicked up a notch, "the servers were smiley and enthusiastic" and "every mild disappointment with the food was tempered by a pleasant surprise," like the lemon juice and sugar crepe, "as good an ending to the meal as I could have asked for." [EBX]