Eater’s local critic Rachel Levin concurs with national correspondent Bill Addison’s report from Fruitvale: Nyum Bai’s dreamy Cambodian cooking is a hit, serving “unique, deeply flavorful, very affordable food” that’s hard to find in San Francisco. In fact, the priciest dish — braised short ribs in a creamy cardamom-coconut curry for $15.95 — costs less than a pound of peel-and-eat shrimp in Kansas.
When he wasn’t scoping out heartland real estate, Michael Bauer was up in Wine Country at NapaSport, the only sports bar he knows of with valet parking and a whole roasted chicken on the menu. Billed as a “sports lounge” and fine dining hybrid, NapaSport can “feel a little confusing,” Bauer says, but it manages to overcome its “corporate” look and awkward location behind a Century movie theater by bringing in a level refinement not normally associated with sports bars or strip malls. The glazed sausage, cut into a ring and dressed up with flowers, “would be at home at a four-star restaurant” and the aforementioned roasted chicken is “a home run,” Bauer says. Likewise, the steaks are steakhouse-quality and Bauer finds the pre-peeled cherry tomatoes in the iceberg wedge salad to be worthy of a mention. Throw in a daily changing pie — baked by owner Michael Galyen’s mother — and NapaSport is two and a half stars across the board.
Alex Hong’s Sorrel is “refreshing and original without trying to topple categories,” writes the Weekly’s Pete Kane. Hong’s experience at Quince mean the pastas like the “well-composed” pork sugo orecchiette or the smoked duck tortellini take top billing. But dishes like the “stimulating” lamb tartare on a flat everything cracker, or the must-order sourdough focaccia reveal the playfulness of a four-year pop-up run. Although the Presidio Heights neighborhood can be “a little staid,” Kane says Sorrel “hasn’t gotten starchy” in the transition to a brick-and-mortar. For maximum enjoyment, he recommends a seat at the marble bar, cultured butter for the focaccia and strawberries three ways for dessert.
There’s “no shame” in snapping a photo of the San Leandro restaurant’s “edible cuteness,” Express critic Janelle Bitker writes this week. From the pig-shaped steam buns to the “crisp, buttery” swan-shaped durian puffs, the trendy dim sum menu “avoids feeling too gimmicky” Bitker says. Items like a mushroom bun or purple yam balls “as striking in their deliciousness as they were in their vivid coloring,” managed to stand out in the enormous 328-seat dining room. Straightforward dim sum items could be hit or miss — the har gow was “slightly too loose,” but the classic siu mai was “plump and juicy” — but service is efficient despite the hectic environment.
Speaking of photo-ready dumplings, the Chronicle’s Jonathan Kauffman kicked off his new column with a look at the stylings of Dragon Beaux chef Dennis Leung. Kaufman’s latest follows Rising Star chef Fernay McPherson to the new home of Minnie Bell’s Soul Movement in Emeryville.
- Nyum Bai’s Dreamy Cambodian Cooking Is a Hit [ESF]
- NapaSport scores a win combining fine dining and sports bar [San Francisco Chronicle]
- Sorrel Vaults from Pop-Up to Top-Tier Brick-and-Mortar [SF Weekly]
- In San Leandro, Fusion Delight Specializes in Edible Cuteness [East Bay Express]