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Bauer Reviews the Resurrected Sam Wo; Sens Gives Cala Three Stars

Plus, Peter Kane heads to Hamlet in Noe Valley, Anna Roth tries The Dorian’s pricey burger and Luke Tsai loves the Puerto Rican food at Borinquen Soul.

Patricia Chang

Michael Bauer checked out the reopened Sam Wo in Chinatown, and he found a restaurant that caters to both locals and tourists. He didn’t love the Americanized dishes like the “gelatinous,” “Chef Boyardee”-like beef and tomato chow mein, but the “velvety” chicken jook, “excellent” beef stew noodle soup and “must order” salt and pepper chicken wings and barbecue pork rice noodle roll propelled the restaurant into his favor. The new version of the restaurant “feels like it’s been there for decades, but those in the know can see this is a sanitized, spruced-up version.” 2 stars. [The Chron]

Josh Sens found his way to Cala, which he wrote “is shaping up as an ‘it’ place to eat." He thumbs ups the “glistening” trout tostadas, “culinary find” roasted sweet potato and “captivating” tamal de cazuela, but doesn’t love the squid and lingcod frito mixto or an abalone dish. At the end of the day, though, Sens approves Cala’s message as “a restaurant that takes you in a new direction, toward a place that feels like somewhere you were meant to be.” 3 stars. [SF mag]

Noe Valley got a visit from SF Weekly’s Peter Kane, who ate at Hamlet and thought it “indecisive,” “with most of the sins being errors of seasoning and proportion.” For example, the grilled octopus “sounded light and enticing but the overwhelming note was pepper,” he wrote, and a dish of chicory, squash, burrata, fresh honeycomb and walnut dressing was “just inexplicable.” On the flip side, the burger was “an asymmetrical beauty” and the roasted half-chicken was “delicious” and “the best of the entrees.” All in all, Kane thinks the food is fine and up to SF par, but better in the context that there’s not much more in Noe Valley. [SF Weekly]

Despite not wanting to, Anna Roth found that she likes The Dorian in the Marina in her latest Eat Up column. While there’s a lot of excess at the new restaurant, it still “caters to the city today without being snobbish about it." There’s a “good” $40 burger with truffles and crab and a $49 shellfish tower, but “for the rest of us, there’s happy hour, with dollar oysters, $5 truffle fries and half-price bottles of rosé and sparkling wine,” Roth wrote. Overall the food “doesn’t take many chances but offers solid renditions on modern San Francisco standards.” [The Chron]

Luke Tsai raved about the “savory and aromatic” rice and beans at Oakland’s Borinquen Soul, a “real-deal Puerto Rican” kitchen inside the Two Star Market convenience store. Besides the rice and beans, he particularly enjoyed the empanadillas , bacalaito, pasteles and pernil. In fact, there’s not a food item he didn’t like. So go. [East Bay Express]