Sons & Daughters
Taking note of the city’s wide range of fixed-price menus and his own conflict of interest with the restaurant, Michael Bauer returned to Sons & Daughters for an update review now that chef/owner Teague Moriarty has shifted the restaurant to a nine-course tasting menu. Moriarty’s pairing with wine director Amy Currens is an important culinary moment, Bauer says, and the new approach makes the restaurant “a must-visit destination.”
The tasting menu “launches,” as Bauer forcefully puts it, with a roasted morel stuffed with fromage blanc, and Currens “nailed” the wine pairing that accompanied a dish of oak-grilled asparagus and “boldly pickled” beech mushrooms. The whole thing was “like a great play,” Bauer says, and and the courses kept getting bolder until peaking with Monterey king salmon and a roasted lamb loin with pretzel bread. For Moriarty’s successful combination of classic and modern approaches, Bauer whips out three and a half stars for Sons and Daughters, while also disclosing that his partner’s company IfOnly sells $6,000 Surf and Dine trips with the chef for charity.
Venturing south of the city line, Bauer finds chef Zongyi Liu, who won the Bocuse D’Or for China in 1999, kind of slumming it up at Millbrae’s Royal Feast. Although Liu’s prestigious medal hangs on the wall, Bauer throws the chef some shade for the “incongruous” and “generic” setting that looks like any other Bay Area Chinese restaurant. But when he’s done critiquing the “ceiling moldings that are no doubt best-sellers at Home Depot,” Bauer admits that Liu’s award-winning technique is “on full display” in the modest surroundings.
Bauer is first wowed by the mapo tofu that’s “as if Liu used a scientific formula” to balance the “fiery” Sichuan peppercorns and the cool tofu. A surprising dish of fish filets stewed in “golden broth that made silk seem rough” was so good, Bauer ended up taking two quarts of it home. To really complete the “Royal Feast” vibe, Bauer includes a private banquet with his old friend and “the matriarch of Chinese cooking in the United States” Cecilia Chang in his review, noting that Liu’s dramatic presentations of pre-Communist revolution Chinese grand cuisine brought a tear to the 98-year-old chef’s eye.
Even though Liu’s regular menu is a whopping 140 items long, Bauer says that same care and focus is present throughout, and even the rustic dishes had “an uncharacteristic refinement” to them. Three stars for Royal Feast.
At SF Weekly, Pete Kane heads to Half Moon Bay’s new must-stop burger stand Dad’s Luncheonette to find “caviar pudding is out, and restroom keys on long slotted spoons are in.” Although the main draw burger was “very good,” Kane says the veggie option — a sautéed oyster mushroom sandwich was even better, thanks to mushrooms that “seemed to bond with the cheese at a molecular level.”
Kane can’t find a bad thing to say about either the “rich” mac n’ cheese or the “nourishing and satisfying” carrot soup. Getting to the end of the lean menu, Kane says the $5 herb salad was a pleasant surprise and “you could practically taste the tiny radius inside of which every component originated.”
In the East Bay, Express contributor Momo Chang seeks out okonomiyaki pop-up Okkon Japanese Street Food. Every Wednesday, husband and wife team Satoshi and Sachi Kamimae bring their savory pancakes to the patio at Temescal Brewing, and the dish makes for a solid beer pairing or a great way to get kids to eat their veggies, Chang says. The basic pork belly pancake is a great place to start, but Chang recommends splurging on add-ons like mentaiko roe and wild shrimp. Despite the laid back pop-up vibe, Satoshi’s dedication shows in his homemade avocado-based kewpie mayo and aged okonomiyaki sauce made from more than a dozen slow-cooked ingredients.
- Royal Feast in Millbrae gives Sichuan its due [Chron]
- Sons & Daughters a must-visit destination with 9 courses [Chron]
- Chew-Choo: Dad’s Luncheonette [SF Weekly]
- Okkon Japanese Street Food Serves It How You Like It [East Bay Express]