After last week’s end-of-year reflections, Chron critic Michael Bauer finds “affordable omakase” and an “extensive non-sushi menu” at Sushi Hon in the Mission. As the sushi chef/owner/landlord, Min Choe is able to keep his 15-course omakase priced at a reasonable $75, but Bauer is disappointed that the large, contemporary space was “virtually empty” and people seem to be missing out on a satisfying sushi menu with some creative hot dishes.
On Bauer’s visits, Choe’s frequently-changing menu included a starter of cucumbers with squid, flower petals and “a small sheet of gold leaf that danced in the lights,” followed by a quick succession of “fairly conservatively-dressed” fish with “particularly well-thought-out” pads of rice. Chef Sun Kyung Jang (Michael Mina) handles the hot dishes, and it’s those that “really make Sushi Hon notable,” like her tuna tartare with caviar, the hamachi collar or “one of the best chicken karaage I’ve had,” aided by a thick dusting of grated cheese. Overall: two and a half stars for a restaurant that “deserves to be very, very busy.”
In January’s San Francisco Magazine, Josh Sens becomes the latest to rave over the duck at “small but ambitious neighborhood restaurant” The Morris. “The Morris isn’t your average corner haunt,” Sens says, and the duck is exactly the kind of “crowd-pleasing showstopper” that owner/sommelier Paul Einbund envisioned when he dreamt up the place. Chef Gavin Schmidt’s menu is “as concise as the wine list is exhaustive” and our critic recommends the shrimp toast and the braised chicken and foie gras dumplings that would drive him to “hijack the cart” had they been served at dim sum.
The crab porridge also has Sens mourning the impending end of crab season, and the few misses he found were “fleeting” in the face of all the restaurant’s strength, charm, and personality. Three stars for The Morris, and don’t pass on the buckwheat doughnuts.
At the Weekly, Pete Kane visits the nouveau Tenderloin’s latest renovated classic The Saratoga, which looks something like an Apple Store “on, say, a White Star Line steamship.” Although the vibe is 1920s and Art Deco, Kane says chef de cuisine Jason Wittek’s menu keeps things relatively casual with “hyper-classic” Parker House rolls, visually “swampy,” but must-order bagna cauda, and a berbere-spiced chicken paillard that’s “enough to lure me back.”
But The Saratoga’s true character shows through in the “cheeky” dishes like the ‘Toga Tots and the $15 haute hot dog “Cubano Frank,” made with slow-roasted pork. The fancy comfort food trick has been tried ad nauseam, but Kane concludes that The Saratoga has actually “pulled off a neat trick” by putting the dog’s “brazen folksiness” in the middle of such swanky environs. Desserts like the reimagined Hostess Ho Hos or the Scotch pudding topped with Black Label caramel (“probably the best dessert I’ve had in all of 2016”) add to the playful feel, and the “dynamic” cocktail menu is enough to shake any stuffy, exclusive vibes.
Luke Tsai looks back at the best East Bay bites of 2016.