Michael Bauer and Pete Kane, his anonymity-free counterpart at SF Weekly doubled up again this week, with each of them reviewing Dragon Beaux, the Richmond district counterpart to Daly City's beloved Koi Palace. While it is clear the restaurant has put some money into interior decorating, Bauer finds the space "either wonderful or garish, depending on your perspective," while Kane feels, "it's kind of a strange place."
Adding to the strangeness, the servers often wear facemasks that Bauer says, "make them look like they might go directly to second jobs as dental hygienists." (Kane says they're "about as dignifying as putting a cone of shame on a dog.) The restaurant also still seems to be finding the right balance between its two concepts—dim sum by day and hot pot by night— and per Bauer, "confusion seems to be the norm" and even the straightforward hot pot concept is "one of the most confusing menus I've seen." Check marks on the dim sum menu didn't always summon the right dish and it took Bauer two trips to "successfully" order the duck burrito, which is a mix of roast duck, cucumbers and herbs all rolled up in a flaky onion pancake instead of a tortilla — basically a local spin on Peking Duck. But confusion also led to happy accidents for Bauer like the crab roe xiao long bao, which turned out to be superior to the standard pork.
Kane, meanwhile, seemed happy to just go with the flow and land on a couple surprises throughout a dum sum lunch. On another trip back for dinner, Kane skipped the hot pot and pieced together a meal of whatever happens to not be sold out by the later hours — no bao, but plenty of meat dishes and the advantage of zero wait time.
Overall, menu highlights seem to be the duck burrito (Bauer), the "razor-thin" lantern beef (Kane), the beef with 12-hour bone broth hot pot (Bauer) and the Malay okra (both). The desserts are also not to be missed: Bauer's Portuguese egg custard tart was his most memorable dish and Kane found much to like about the goji berry osmanthus jelly cake that looked like "a cross section of a frozen koi pond." Overall, Kane says "I really can't complain," while Bauer's headline "Dim sum dims some at Dragon Beaux" will make you groan all the way down the page until you hit the two stars rating.
For something different, Josh Sens hits The Progress for San Francisco Magazine, where Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski's second project is easy to label, but hard to pin down. The specter of State Bird Provisions next door is "both a blessing and a curse," because of the absurdly high bar it set. Still, the Progess has its advantages — namely it's easier to snag a seat and you can often find a place at the bar where the family-style dishes are "scaled down to a snackable size." Although not everything from the kitchen hits the mark for Sens, the Progress shows great promise right from the banchan starter. Highlights include a "spectacular" medley of shaved cauliflower romanesco with crispy pig's ears, a "happy marriage of wild mushrooms and kale with pickled nori," grilled squab that pairs "gamy meat with exotic heat," and a "sexy crepe" made of pecorino roti with truffled buttermilk. At its best, Sens notes, "the Progress puts out beautifully feisty food."
Elsewhere in reviews this week, Pete Kane's got a mini-review of Tony Gemigiani's new Slice House on Second Street, which "hits it out of the park" as you might have expected. Although the expanded space is a plus for those opposed to waiting in line for pizza, the rents in South Beach apparently don't come cheap and slices can hit six bucks a pop.
Finally, Bauer took a trip up to Pac Heights to revisit "longtime stalwart" Florio, where former Zero Zero chef Colin Dewey has taken over the kitchen. Overall, the place is still smooth and effortless, with a classic look that Bauer goes for. Two-and-a-half stars for the food, plus three for service and atmosphere.