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Three tacos from Taqueria Las Fuentes in a styrofoam container. Nat Belkov

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The Best Dishes Editors Ate This Week

This week tender lengua tacos, a seasonal fig tart, and more

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There’s certainly no shortage of excellent food to be found in San Francisco and the Bay Area — but there’s plenty worth skipping, too. Luckily for you, Eater editors dine out several times a week (or more) and we’re happy to share the standout dishes we encounter as we go.

Here’s the best of everything the Eater SF team has eaten recently. Check back weekly for more don’t-miss dishes.

September 29

Lengua tacos from Taqueria Las Fuentes

Three tacos in a styrofoam takeout box from Taqueria Las Fuentes. Nat Belkov

Unless you’re traveling by car from LA up to the Bay as I was this past week, you may never find yourself passing through the quiet town of Greenfield just off the 101. And if, like me, you don’t happen to live in California, and therefore aren’t accustomed to such a delicacy, you may not be as excited as I was by the prospect of fresh, handmade tortillas like those offered at Taqueria Las Fuentes. After placing my order, I watched one of the women behind the counter tear off golf ball-sized pieces of tender white masa and carefully press them into discs before sliding them onto a searing flat top. Before I knew it, those tortillas were ladled with fillings, packaged with a ramekin of tangy salsa de arbol, and passed across the counter to me. Clearly, I haven’t lived because every other lengua taco I’ve had the pleasure of trying has come packed with delicious yet relatively tough morsels of beef tongue that beg for salsa to balance their lack of moisture. This tongue, on the other hand, was supremely tender and, had I needed to use a fork, would’ve caved to its pressure like an expertly-braised brisket. The tortillas, tender and blooming with corn flavor, have been on my mind (and frankly, also in my dreams) ever since returning to the East Coast. Taqueria Las Fuentes, 331 El Camino Real, Greenfield, California

— Nat Belkov, Eater design director

Chocolate muhallebi at Dalida

Chocolate muhallebi at Dalida Paolo Bicchieri

On a rare muggy evening in San Francisco, the lights in the Presidio adding to the park’s historic stoicism, Dalida served me maybe the finest Meditteranean fare in the Bay Area. Chefs Laura and Sayat Ozyilmaz provide a laid-back but upscale ambiance, with warm tones on the walls and a playful design aesthetic. Prices are reasonable for a city as financially bloated as San Francisco — and the chocolate muhallebi is a creamy, crunchy, lordly way to end any meal. The hazelnut sauce, lathered around whole hazelnuts, combines with a Turkish coffee cream to make this generous sundae a main attraction more than a post-dinner afterthought. (The dinner itself, by the way, is worth visiting the wooded former military base for, too. Sesame horchata and pistachio coffee make for innovative and luxurious nonalcoholic drinks, and the 12-hour lamb shoulder tandoor is, as our server put it, soft enough to eat with a spoon.) Muhallebi isn’t technically ice cream, rather it’s a milk pudding composed of rice, sugar, and milk. But what I’m trying to say is Dalida allows for the comfort of both roast meat and nostalgic desserts, while kicking the familiar favorites up a notch — or ten. There’s probably no better outdoor patio for watching those enormous boats cruise on the Bay, either, with a spoon deep in hazelnut cream — or lamb shoulder for that matter. Dalida, 101 Montgomery Street, San Francisco

— Paolo Bicchieri, Eater SF reporter

Fig tart at Sesame Tiny Bakery

A fig tart from Sesame Tiny Bakery in Berkeley Dianne de Guzman

On a busy Saturday that saw me rocketing here, there, and everywhere, I was glad I made Sesame Tiny Bakery one of my stops, as it was the perfect end to a day of ceaseless activity. I may have said this in the past, but my favorite treats are not-too-sweet ones, and Sesame delivers lovely, soft flavors that don’t hit you over the head with sugar. Seeing as how we are in part II of fig season, I was drawn to the fig tart as my end-of-day snack. Sure, it was a little smushed from my travels, but the flavor of Black Mission figs carried through, and the two styles of cream were nicely balanced with the tart crust. I was committed to eating half of the tart, in order to stretch out the enjoyment, but one thing led to another and before I knew it, I had polished it off in no time. Another revelation was the walnut financier, which packed a strong walnut flavor without the drying, tannin taste that raw walnuts can impart. The cake itself had a nice crumb to it and was a nice little add-on for a tiny treat, which may or may not make it all the way to the car. Just sayin’. Sesame Tiny Bakery, 2533 Seventh St, Berkeley

— Dianne de Guzman, Eater SF deputy editor

Turkmen mantisi at Meyhouse

Lauren Saria

If you’re going to dine solo, there’s no better seat than the bar and perhaps, few menus more conducive to an epic meal for one than that at Meyhouse in Palo Alto. The spacious restaurant opened in August as a place for Turkish-born entrepreneur-turned-restaurateur Omer Artun to bring a taste of Turkish drinking culture to the Bay Area. But even if you’re not having any booze, it’s a worthwhile stop. The menu of small plates akin to Spanish tapas makes it all too easy to order a small feast as a single diner. And of the plates I tried — including sheep’s milk “Ezine cheese” served with sesame-crusted flatbread and a vibrant little plate of salt-cured bonito bedecked with pomegranate seeds and dill — the standout had to be these steamed Turkish dumplings. The shiny wrappers each coddled a morsel of spiced beef, the flavors of which were simultaneously cooled down and amplified by the sea of creamy garlic yogurt underneath. A richly layered paprika mint butter sauce sealed the deal along with a flurry of fresh herbs. Meyhouse Palo Alto, 640 Emerson Street, Palo Alto

— Lauren Saria, editor Eater SF

September 22

Klingeman pork neck at Burdell

Summer succotash
Lauren Saria

As soon as I caught wind of the news that chef Geoff Davis’s much-anticipated debut restaurant Burdell had opened its doors, I secured a reservation and started counting down the days. Thus, on Sunday night, I walked into that stylish dining room, swooning immediately over the groovy 70s-inspired color palette and vintage Corelle and Pyrex plates. Not that any of it outshone the food. We started with miso-soaked boiled peanuts; a simple but elegant compressed summer melon salad; and a smart riff on barbecue shrimp starring tender head-on, shell-off prawns and buttery batards of toast. Thankfully, our kind and professional server warned us to save room for a larger plate. A thick slice of pork neck — sourced from Non-GMO Project-verified Klingeman Family Ranch — cut like butter having been brined, air-dried, roasted, and then basted with garlic and thyme. There was just enough peach jam to add a touch of sweetness, balanced perfectly against the tangy acid of pickled mustard seeds. Still, as much as I loved it, I almost loved the side of summer succotash even more. The medley of peak-season produce including snappy green beans, sweet corn, and tender squash felt like the perfect celebration of that last full weekend before the autumn equinox. It’s not easy to come out the gate firing on all cylinders, but from where I’m standing Burdell seems to have just about pulled it off. Burdell, 4640 Telegraph Avenue, Oakland

— Lauren Saria, editor Eater SF

Caviar service at Bungalow Kitchen

Caviar at Bungalow Kitchen. Paolo Bicchieri

I’ve written about Michael Mina before, and I promise I won’t make a big habit of waxing on my fondness for cooks from Central Washington. But Bungalow Kitchen’s caviar service is just too decadent — the type of bacchanalian delight of Aphrodite’s dreams. The business corridor where the restaurant holds court by the water also plays host to The Caviar Co., which partners with Mina’s restaurant to provide a luxurious Kaluga hybrid caviar. Atop little potato roasties and a basket of shatteringly-fried chips, bedecked by creme fraiche, chives, egg, and onion, and served in a silver goblet with tiny fish for handles, the raw power of caviar clicked with me for maybe the first time. Each bite was simultaneously crisp, crunchy, and creamy, filling and rich but not overly so. This highlight doubles as a shout-out to Tiburon, the North Bay treasure I had never heard of until wrapping up my mini-honeymoon. Sitting in a booth on a busy ferry dock, allegedly where Barry Bonds likes to hang his hat after biking to the restaurant, one feels like a part of the Bay itself. Whatever comes from the Mina Group next is anyone’s guess. But if the group crafts anything as beautiful as Bungalow Kitchen, I’ll be the first in line, caviar spoon in the air. Bungalow Kitchen, 5 Main Street, Tiburon

— Paolo Bicchieri, Eater SF reporter

Hainan chicken salad sandwich at Outta Sight Pizza

Dianne de Guzman

Hainanese chicken rice is one of my favorite dishes, so it only follows that when Outta Sight Pizza advertised a Hainan chicken salad sandwich, I made plans to trek out to San Francisco for it. And when I had it in my hands, I knew the trip was worth it, as I’m also an unabashed fan of chicken salad sandwiches done right. I was curious how the ingredients would pull together, but I found it to be a clever play on both parts of the name, as the sandwich showcased bites of chicken tossed in a ginger-scallion aioli. Add onto that a lovely trifecta of crunchiness from batons of cucumber, wonton crisps, and fried shallots, with some green cilantro also nestled in. There was also a nice bit of heat from the addition of sambal sauce, very much welcomed. The sandwich was then served on a Rize Up Bakery roll — this summer’s sandwich star — which has an ideal crunchy-soft ratio. For me, this sandwich was a hit all the way around. Outta Sight Pizza is popular for, well, pizza, but I’d argue the sandwiches are a draw in their own right. Outta Sight Pizza, 422 Larkin Street, San Francisco

— Dianne de Guzman, Eater SF deputy editor

September 15

Duck heart skewers at the Morris

It’s no secret that the Morris is an industry favorite; it has been for years. Still, I wasn’t fully prepared for the impromptu party I’d find at the bar on Monday night. It was a whole entire scene — in a good way — as a parade of acquaintances new and old popped up seemingly out of the blue while I sipped a glass of nerello mascalese and ate my way through a hit list of the restaurant's many tried-and-true offerings. I started with these: a duo of grilled duck heart skewers. Each disappeared only too soon, the perfectly tender morsels being brushed with a slightly sweet glaze that brightened up the bites of fatty, gamey offal. My only consolation for finishing them so quickly was the additional plates that arrived in rapid succession: a trio of savory mushroom profiteroles; a zippy plate of charred broccolini and squid, swimming in a mouth-puckeringly tart chili lime sauce; and a generous portion of fries begging to be dipped into a side of creamy garlic aioli and swiped into that aforementioned sauce. As if by magic, I somehow ended up with a trio of beverages in front of me including a splash of a stunning, apricot-y reisling and a crisp glass of Chenin blanc, poured from another patron’s bottle that I just had to try. And isn’t that kind of what this place is all about? A fantastic neighborhood restaurant where anyone can feel like a regular any day of the week. The Morris, 2501 Mariposa Street, San Francisco

— Lauren Saria, editor Eater SF

Vegetarian fries at Mothers

Waffle fries at Mothers. Paolo Bicchieri

I didn’t get enough time to hype up this Mexico City-style taqueria in an old Pizza Hut just yet. Leaving the bottomless baskets of chips on the side, Mothers opts instead for the most supreme form of fry: the waffle fry. (For the record, it goes waffle first, then sweet potato, curly, and classic last. McDonald’s fries are the only exception to this rule. Fight me.) This mountain of garlic-sauteed shiitake and cremini mushrooms intersects with nostalgic shreds of cheddar and mozzarella cheese for a salty and savory combo breaker that’d make Street Fighter fans’ heads spin. Perhaps a holdover from the business’ former tenant, the dish has a loving pizza effect, each bite of oily carbs and onion and cilantro providing a primal invitation for another. That’s the joy of loaded waffle fries at Mothers: For just $13, one can load up on crunchy escabeche and four salsas while plowing through a shrine of cheesy, umami-riddled wonder. The smart shopper orders a tall glass of horchata, rich and creamy like it should be, and the hungry shopper orders the three vegetarian tacos and one vegan taco as accouterments, basic accessories for the hungry beast looking to stock up before the next trip to the Jefferson Street’s finest parking lot. Mothers, 3150 Jefferson Street, Napa

— Paolo Bicchieri, Eater SF reporter

September 8

You Had Me at UBE at Cyrus

Coffee cocktail at Cyrus. Paolo Bicchieri

There’s nothing like sipping Kona coffee combined with vanilla, ube, cherry blossom, and oat milk beneath a thick toasted meringue inside a building lying at the precise intersection of A24’s Ex Machina and Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka. I wouldn’t have known this anything but simple pleasure if not for the hard-working team at Geyserville’s Cyrus. This $16 nonalcoholic beverage can be ordered in the Bubbles Lounge, which is open for walk-ins Thursday through Sunday. But, for me, it was the kick-off to the entire Cyrus dinner experience, a whimsical and sublime gustatory delight. Once the sun went down over the Alexander Valley our dining cohort was trotted to the Kitchen Table area, where chef Douglas Keane walks guests through a flight of small bites featuring tempura-fried sweet potato custard and a rendition of gazpacho. Guests are encouraged to ask questions, to walk amongst the kitchen’s staff as 90s rock including Pearl Jam growls overhead. The main dinner is a bit more standard; mains include yuba “ravioli” and a righteous Andante Dairy melange that was like a fine dining riff on a cheesy blooming onion. On the way out, the ultra-warm service staff walked my wife and me through the famed chocolate fountain room with boxes of confections waiting on an actual hover disc. But throughout it all I couldn’t shake the creamy, buzzy, genius treat that was the restaurant’s opening procession: It lived up to its namesake, as, indeed, Cyrus had me at “ube.” Cyrus, 275 CA Highway 128, Geyserville

— Paolo Bicchieri, Eater SF reporter

Fish n’ chips at Mersea

Lauren Saria

As a northern California native, I’ve driven past Yerba Buena and Treasure Islands countless times and, I’ll admit, it never really occurred to me that there was anything worth pulling off the bridge for on either isle. But with a long holiday weekend at my disposal and international guests in tow, I thought it might be nice to pop over for some sun and food. We landed at Mersea, where the panoramic vista of the city and both its graceful bridges left our mouths agape. At an outdoor table absolutely pummeled with sunshine, we ordered a small seafood feast. The daily special, a bay shrimp roll, came in a fluffy, toasted, and buttered bun. But the fish n’ chips were the crowd favorite. The order includes a single piece of deep-fried haddock, wrapped in a thick and crispy and, importantly, perfectly salted coating of batter. The fish retained its firm, flaky texture, falling apart (in a good way) at a gentle touch. Curried tartare sauce added a nice punch of flavor to the fish and the side of Old Bay fries. Sipping my pineapple mimosa in the sun, I thought about how perfect the waterfront venue would be for sunset happy hours or a big weekend brunch. It’s nice to know that after years in the Bay ARea, there are still hidden-in-plain-sight gems to be discovered. Mersea, 699 Avenue of the Palms, San Francisco

— Lauren Saria, editor Eater SF

September 1

Braised short rib at Ssal

A cube croisssant at Ssal.
Ssal x Ariscault croissant
Lauren Saria

Despite the fact that Ssal has been open since 2019, walking up to the austere storefront on Polk Street, shaded by black awnings and shrouded in white drapes, feels like a discovery. And don’t let the minimalist decor lead you to believe the restaurant lacks warmth. Over 11 courses and two and a half hours, the small Ssal team demonstrated both exquisite skill and enthusiasm in their work, making for a mid-week tasting menu experience that felt anything but tedious. I’ll be dreaming about the bread course — a stunning cube of Ariscault laminated dough served with a cloud of whipped injeolmi butter — for at least a few weeks, and the heady scent of the hand-pressed sesame oil that got meticulously drizzled over a delicate bluefin tuna tartare will be etched into my memory forever. But the restaurant’s final savory course truly marked a high point of the meal. A deck of card-sized piece of stunningly marbled short rib rolled up to the table on a cart, along with a whole, gently steamed Jimmy Nardello pepper stuffed with tteokgalbi sausage made from short rib trimmings. The tender beef, served with a rich black garlic sauce, practically dissolved at the lightest touch and the sausage-stuffed pepper seamlessly married Northern California ingredients with Korean culinary traditions. The San Francisco Korean dining scene may still be coming into its own, but Ssal stands as a prime example of the heights it can reach. Ssal, 2226 Polk Street, San Francisco

— Lauren Saria, editor Eater SF

Deconstructed tiramisu at Just Some Folks

Just Some Folks dessert. Paolo Bicchieri

It’s a little unfair to have a nectarine-washed sunset and a little yellow building full of my friends and family as a backdrop to this unreal dessert. Still, Just Some Folks knows the set and setting is just as important as the ingredients themselves. The last course of my wedding’s rehearsal dinner, which one of my favorite bakers Claudia Fleming refers to as the sweet finale to a multi-course meal, was a bowl full of gluten-free ladyfingers, mango mascarpone, orange zest, and Hulk-green basil drizzle, with dashes of cocoa and cardamom for spicy measure. The chorus of oohs and aahs from the outdoor patio that evening should serve as its own review of this genius combination of crunchy cookie and rich fruit cream. Still, I’ll take the opportunity to say I sometimes underestimate the power of the right dish at the right time. And, one night before my partner and I tied the knot, a deconstructed tiramisu — with components thoughtfully selected after interviewing my partner and me about our favorite flavors and dishes — propelled us into a weekend of pure delight. Beside a raucous and joyous community, beneath a rare Montara sun, I tucked into the last course for the last time as a bachelor: 10/10 recommend. Just Some Folks, San Francisco

— Paolo Bicchieri, Eater SF reporter

Tempura corn on the cob from Palmetto

Dianne de Guzman

This summer, I’ve been singularly focused on tomatoes. But a recent visit to Palmetto (and this post) really shook me into savoring corn season. On a scorcher of a night, this fried corn on the cob delivered just the vibes I needed, no standing over a grill required. The fact that it was lightly fried added to this dish’s enjoyment, the crunch-sweet bite and flavor that signifies warmth and sun-kissed feelings — but with flair. The cobs were dressed in a cilantro-lime aioli that gave them a bit of creamy, citrus flavor, and the chile furikake added some bonus crunch and texture. It was just one part of a larger dinner that hit at a lot of summery angles. If I can do one other shoutout, I’ll mention the jasmine rice caldo — it’s maybe the opposite of a summertime dish, given that it’s served warm and maybe isn’t quite what one wants when it’s hot, but for me, it was nostalgic. For someone who’s grown up with arroz caldo on days I was sick, it was a lovely moment to enjoy someone else’s take on the classic Filipino dish. Palmetto, 1900 Telegraph Avenue, Oakland

— Dianne de Guzman, Eater SF deputy editor

August 25

Breakfast porridge at Deluxe Queer

Sitting at a long table in a condo in the Bayview, in a room abuzz with mimosas made from fresh-squeezed oranges and just-popped Champagne, I blitzed through a rich bowl of congee so appealing to the eye it could make its way onto Hayao Miyazaki’s storyboards. Deluxe Queer hosted a three-course meal awash with luxury coffee drinks from Sāe Coffee Studio including a coffee lemonade pairing for this dish. Regen Williams, one of the minds behind the pop-up, worked the kitchen all morning while Paolo Godcharles-Méndez brought out the soy-marinated egg and Millionaire’s bacon-loaded bowl. I tried to eat slowly, but the dish combined my favorite aspects of any meal: A harmonic balance of flavors and textures, in this case, a mellow duality of salty and spicy, crispy meat alongside a chewy egg. The miso tomatoes, wisely used this season, were like sugary boba thanks to their sweet, explosive nature. The shiitake mushrooms included in the dish, in addition to a shiitake stock for the base, served as another major player in the bowl, significant but not overbearing. It’s always good to go to a brunch befitting The Hobbit — somewhere between the first chapter’s “An Unexpected Party” and the seventh chapter’s “Queer Lodgings” I suppose — and always good to find a meaty, warming breakfast of jammy tomatoes and gochujang-spiced squash. Deluxe Queer, San Francisco

— Paolo Bicchieri, Eater SF reporter

Brisket cast iron stir-fried rice at Baekjeong

Fried rice at Baekjeong. Lauren Saria

If you’re into Korean barbecue then you might have heard the news: one of the country’s most popular Korean barbecue chains, Baekjeong, blasted into the Bay Area last week. The company’s first northern California outpost opened on August 16 at Westfield Valley Fair in San Jose (though the mall uses a Santa Clara mailing address). In the first days of business, some fans waited, reportedly, up to six hours for a table — and honestly, as much as I wish I could tell you it’s totally overrated, the truth is I loved every dish I ate during lunch on opening day. Of them all, however, the one I was most surprised to enjoy was the brisket fried rice. It’s cooked on the table, which means your server will remove the stainless steel grill to make room for a hefty cast-iron wok, then load it up with paper-thin slices of marbled brisket and a medley of sliced mushrooms. Long batons of garlic chives and bean sprouts add texture, but it’s the slick sesame oil and a final blast of white truffle oil that gives the final dish its oomph. I adored the kick from ample black pepper and salt and best of all, the leftovers made a fantastic lunch the following day. Baekjeong, 2855 Stevens Creek Boulevard #1808, Santa Clara

— Lauren Saria, editor Eater SF

Tenbrink Farms tomatoes from Ashes & Diamonds

Dianne de Guzman

August has been a whirlwind month, kicking off with some good eating during Outside Lands weekend, but sometimes a nice leisurely pause is what’s needed. A recent trip to Ashes & Diamonds in Napa provided a bit of respite from all the activity, with a luxe lunch and wine pairings to boot. It’s peak summer, so that meant a meal highlighting seasonal ingredients in the best ways. This gorgeous tomato dish arrived at the table, featuring a healthy scoop of labneh and dressed in a saffron vinaigrette. The ingredients really sang together in ways that kept me swirling bits of tomato through the vinaigrette and topping it off with a cooling bit of labneh, thankful for a refreshing bite in the summer heat. The tomato dish came paired with a separate number featuring stone fruit slices plated with a nasturtium tahini sauce that also screamed capital-S Summer in the best ways. Together, it was a pairing that hit the best notes with tart bites of tomato and labneh, along with the sweetness of yellow- and red-fleshed plums. This is my type of summer meal. Ashes & Diamonds, 4130 Howard Lane, Napa

— Dianne de Guzman, Eater SF deputy editor

August 18

Pizza Pomodoro at Mentone

A pizza topped with tomatoes and stracciatella. Lauren Saria

This summer’s tomatoes might be running late — but when they do finally arrive, they certainly make an impression. It’s a lesson I learned first-hand thanks to this leopard-spotted and tomato-topped pie at chef David Kinch’s casual French-Italian restaurant Mentone just east of Santa Cruz. For the full summer experience, start your meal with one of the frozen bubbly spritzes, an Aperol and Kettle One Peach-laced slushie that you could easily suck down before realizing exactly how much alcohol occupies that little plastic cup. Then chase it with this Pizza Pomodoro, a seasonal special that channels all the freshness of summer starting with cheery sungold tomatoes, each blistered to a shrivel that brings out the orbs’ inherent sweetness. Mozzarella and stracciatella sweep through like an ocean breeze, cool and creamy, with a little acid and bite coming from garlic and those basil leaves strewn over top. The only thing that’ll make your brow furrow will be when you realize how six slices of pizza can disappear in the blink of an eye — sort of like this summer’s tomato bounty. Best enjoy it while you can. Mentone, 174 Aptos Village Way, Aptos

— Lauren Saria, editor Eater SF

Mexican Yoloxochitlan washed-process black coffee at the Crown

Coffee from Crown. Paolo Bicchieri

You might avoid hot black coffee in the summer. But the Crown in Uptown Oakland is here to show you why that’s a bad idea every day of the week. This $4 light roast coffee is nutty, full of lovely toasty high notes, and well worth every dollar. It’s not overpowering in any way, not too dark, nor so tinny and minute the righteous coffee taste is lost. This is the kind of black coffee that can convert a nonbeliever, the heady but accessible cup that brings your chocolate-loving, tea-drinking friend over to the dark side. The shop is the tasting room for legendary green coffee importer Royal Coffee, running strong since 1978 and serving 16-ounce coffees to the bold. As Sam Stone wrote in Bon Appetit, hot coffee really can be a summer drink; I nabbed this batch-brewed elixir on a sweat-inducing afternoon running errands around Lake Merritt. So, grab a pineapple cake from the case of Bake Sum pastries, dive into this ideal cup of smooth coffee, and vibe through your morning caffeine take-off like Binky when the Nights beat switch hits. The Crown, 2523 Broadway, Oakland

— Paolo Bicchieri, Eater SF reporter

Sweet & sour pig ears from PRESS

Strips of sweet and sour pig ear from PRESS Dianne de Guzman

I’d already heard impressive things about PRESS in Napa, so when I went in for a recent dinner, I was excited to finally check it out for myself. Our kind server recommended the sweet and sour pig ears, and immediately I was intrigued. When the bowl arrived, inside sat strips of pig ears, cut to almost fry-size and coated in sweet and sour espelette glaze, with bing cherries halves and tiny sprigs of cilantro flowers on top. The sauce hit notes of nostalgia from years of eating Chinese American food: tangy and sweet but also deeper and richer, a darker glaze than the orange-red sweet and sours of my past. The sauce coated each crevice of the battered and fried pork ears and I was really impressed with how crisp the ears stayed under the saucy coating, still giving that crunch under the first bite. The fried exterior gave way to that familiar texture and chew of cartilage. The crunch-bite combo of the competing textures, plus the sauce, led to clearing out my bowl as I considered with each piece why I liked it so much. I never really arrived at an answer, but a few days later, I realized that sometimes you can have an excellent dinner with many memorable dishes in a row but when something manages to be surprising and fun that’s what makes me sit up and notice. PRESS, 587 St. Helena Highway, St. Helena

— Dianne de Guzman, Eater SF deputy editor

August 11

Abalone Skewers at Chez Noir

Lauren Saria

I’ve been looking for a good excuse — and, to be fair, a free weekend — to escape down the coast to Carmel-by-the-Sea since last fall, and this weekend finally managed to make it happen. Part of the draw was the area itself, with those stoic cypress trees and capriciously misty beaches, and the new Caramel Beach Hotel made a lovely home base thanks to its location just a block off the water. The pinnacle of the trip, however, was dinner at Chez Noir, the upscale mom-and-pop restaurant from chef Jonny Black and wife Monique Black, who runs front of house. They packed up and moved to the seaside town to transform the bottom floor of their new family home into an upscale restaurant, decorated a la a chic modern bistro complete with brass accents and playful round chandeliers. The menu doubles down on that French accent, applying French techniques to a bounty of local ingredients. Of them all, my favorite dish (and I’m not alone in this assessment) was the abalone skewer, which saw a cutting of local bay laurel skewered through tender mollusks pulled from the Monterey Bay and dressed in decadent liver butter with thin wedges of sweet meyer lemon. The buttery salty bite provided a perfect sense of place, grounding me immediately on the coast I’d been itching to visit for so long. Chez Noir, 5th Avenue between Dolores and San Carlos streets, Carmel-by-the-Sea

— Lauren Saria, editor Eater SF

Vegan donburi at Itani Ramen

Itani Ramen. Paolo Bicchieri

The first bite of my custom donburi at Kyle Itani’s spacious Itani Ramen on Telegraph Avenue included a big blast of deep seaweed flavor and roasted kale. Next door, lunch-goers ducked inside for Itani’s dark and sparse restaurant Yonsei Handrolls, where creamy avocado and black garlic aioli-dressed albacore handrolls reign as royalty. But at the 2016-born Uptown Oakland ramen shop, things feel casual, like the kind of restaurant you head to with your friends after a night seeing Boppenheimer before heading home. The rice bowl, in and around $20 depending on which toppings you’re craving, was the true ideal of a vegetable-heavy yet filling entree. The squash provides a mellow flavor and chewy texture alongside a flight of savory marinaded mushrooms. A side of kimchi balances the bed of fluffy rice. I absolutely added corn, a nice pop against the big bricks of tofu. And I made sure to drown my bowl in tamari and hot sauce, jamming on as much umami as I could. There is something not only belly-filling but heart-warming about tucking into an enormous bowl of allergen- and earth-friendly ingredients without being a party pooper for the normies in one’s midst. For the casual donburi fan or for the diehard, Itani Ramen provides not only for the carnivores and pescatarians but for the soy boys, too. Itani Ramen, 1736 Telegraph Avenue, Oakland

— Paolo Bicchieri, Eater SF reporter

Samosas at Cedar Market

Two triangular samosas from Berkeley’s Cedar Market, on a plate Dianne de Guzman

In honor of contributor Garrett Schlichte’s ode to the Walk and Snack, my best dish this week comes in that same spirit, celebrating the Punjabi samosas at Cedar Market in Berkeley. It’s a convenience store located in a lovely (and yes, walkable) neighborhood in North Berkeley, and the samosas are the treat at the end of a visit. I typically go to Cedar Market for its proximity, but also for the store’s excellent drink selection of local craft beer and kombucha, as well as ice cream bars and ice cream pints on hot days. Next to the cash register sits a warming lamp over a metal tray, with crisp, triangular samosas nestled inside. From what I hear, the store’s owners make the samosas themselves, and it’s my tiny treat whenever I stop by. The outside of each samosa is blistered from being fried in oil, creating a nice bite before giving way to its spiced interior of potato, peas, and onions. There are two sauces, what I’ve only ever heard called “the green sauce” and a tamarind version, but I’d argue these samosas stand up on their own. It’s one of my favorite samosas in the Bay Area for reasons having to do with flavor — but also so much more. The samosas feel like a caring gesture for the neighborhood and the market’s customers, and I love supporting that sentiment — especially since it’s so tasty, in this case — because it’s shops like these that keep any city going. Cedar Market, 1601 California Street, Berkeley

— Dianne de Guzman, Eater SF deputy editor

August 4

Honey Cake with Walnuts at Cinderella Bakery

I’ve retained, unfortunately, very little of my Russian heritage into adulthood, much to my grandparents’ dismay. I can’t speak the language, and I know little of the cultural traditions. That said, memories of medovik, the layered honey sponge cake ubiquitous throughout Eastern Europe, have and will continue to take up permanent residence in my soul. Last week, Cinderella Bakery tugged on my heartstrings by tempting me with a delicious and unique version of the iconic Soviet dessert. Studded with walnuts, the oft-smooth cake took on another dimension. Tangy sour cream permeated the frosting applied in alternating layers with the thin, warmly-spiced cake. I’m glad I decided to grab two slices, because they were gone before I even made it home. Cinderella Bakery, 436 Balboa St, San Francisco

— Nat Belkov, Eater design director

Miso bone marrow baked oysters at Little Shucker

Lauren Saria

The motley crew behind the popular Pac-Heights cocktail bar the Snug rolled out their newest offering to the neighborhood this week. Little Shucker debuted on Wednesday, August 3 bringing a tight and relatively straightforward seafood-focused menu to Fillmore Street. If I had to bet, I’d put my money on the lobster roll as a potential most popular offering; you can order it hot or cold, and the former option means you’ll get a petite sandwich on a toasted bun overflowing with lightly buttered hunks of lobster meat. But personally, I’m looking forward to returning for more of the baked oysters, specifically the ones swimming in miso and bone marrow. The decadent accouterments to these toasty bivalves transform the usually bright and briny mollusks into slurpable umami bombs — and just when you think they’ve maybe taken things too far with all that richness, you get a kiss of acid and a delicate crunch from pickled daikon and a single leaf of cilantro. All that flavor balanced into one tiny shell? Who wouldn’t be impressed. Little Shucker, 2016 Fillmore Street, San Francisco

— Lauren Saria, editor Eater SF

Ahi tuna crudo at Estiatorio Ornos

Tuna crudo at Estiatorio Ornos Paolo Bicchieri

Who knew that Michael Mina, sort of a Shaquille O’Neal of the Bay Area’s fine dining world, is from the same weird, small town as me? And who knew that his mother came up with a falafel recipe leaning on sweet peas and fava beans rather than chickpeas so the nuggets brandish a bright green interior? Beneath a slice of raw tuna, it’s got to be the best bite at Mina’s Estiatorio Ornos in FiDi. If Mina is Shaq, that means chef Daniela Vergara is Penny Hardaway, Mina’s youngest and one of the only female executive chefs amongst his many restaurants. She’s to thank for the crudo’s precise execution: each order comes with four of the creamy, crunchy, and melty falafel and fish combos. The falafel works as a crouton, providing a stage for a drizzle of tahini and a dash of salata baladi, an Egyptian salad that functions almost like pico de gallo in this dish. Each fourth of the crudo is indulgent and insultingly rich, as good or better than anything I’ve eaten in a long time. Even against the coral pink booths and the icy goliath God of Olympus, poured tableside, the thoughtful starter feels like the main character. Estiatorio Ornos, 252 California Street, San Francisco

— Paolo Bicchieri, Eater SF reporter

Local tofu from Kuma Sushi + Sake

Dianne de Guzman

I never used to make it a point to order tofu at sushi restaurants, but somewhere in my years of eating, I’ve since fixed that fact. Now, it’s a rarer sight when I don’t try to talk dining partners into my tofu starter obsession. And so it was that I ordered this plate of local tofu at Kuma Sushi + Sake at a recent dinner, interested in trying a take on the usual agedashi tofu offerings at sushi restaurants, this one made with local firm tofu. The tofu had a nice, lovely texture — it was worlds different from any store-bought brands I’ve worked with in the past — and served as a base for a crunchy garlic oil dressing laden with sesame seeds. The garlic oil of course gave the dish some nice bite and crunch, but the sesame added hints of sweetness and nuttiness. The mix of finely sliced scallions and shiso gave the dish a different sort of texture, this time a vegetal one, that also punctuated each bite with that certain, mellow allium taste that scallions are known for. The ponzu rounded things out with a nice bit of citrus and soy sauce to the mix, and honestly, it all reaffirmed that this is my new sushi bff. Kuma Sushi + Sake, 1040 Polk Street, San Francisco

— Dianne de Guzman, Eater SF deputy editor

July 28

California tahdig at Dalida

Octopus and sujuk at Dalida.
Lauren Saria

Sometimes, a restaurant has the power to lift you out of reality and transport you far from the day-to-day. Such was the case at Dalida, thanks in part to its picturesque perch on the edge of the Presidio's rolling green lawns — with those views of the bay and bridge beyond — and also to a menu that deftly blends Mediterranean and California cuisines for an experience that’s both familiar and fresh. Dinner started with a prime example: the California tahdig, a dainty version of a dish bejeweled with amber pads of uni, orbs of trout roe, thin slices of local halibut, tart pickles, and seaweed. I might have liked a bit more crunch on the crust, but the bites of saffron-inflected rice made a delicate backdrop for the mosaic of oceanic flavors amassed on top. Bites of hardened rice with briny uni or slippery seaweed surfaced memories of scraping rice from the bottom of the rice cooker as a kid, providing an unexpected gust of nostalgia. By the end of the meal, I felt like I’d enjoyed a two-hour getaway to some sort of oceanside destination both foreign and, somehow, familiar at the same time. Dalida, 101 Montgomery Street, Suite 100, at the Presidio in San Francisco

— Lauren Saria, editor Eater SF

Korokke Curry Sandwich at Bread n’ Chu

Nat Belkov

The golden truffle sandwich at Bread n’ Chu is an impressive sight. Before taking a bite, you’re struck by the delicately placed layers of Burgundy truffle shavings and golf leaf adorning the sandwich’s cross-section. Under that thin, veneered facade lies a bounty of textures, just as impressive as what conceals them — a deep-fried Japanese omelet drizzled in ginger shoyu and roasted sesame. On a recent visit, however, the sandwich that stood out to me from this Richmond District counter showcased a perfectly fried potato croquette between its two airy slabs of milk bread. Inside that croquette, hiding like the prize at the center of a Tootsie Pop, was a cavern of molten cheese. With its turmeric, coriander, and cumin-laden curry, this sandwich made me think of Indian samosas, a fun reminder of how much culinary history disparate cultures share. Bread N’ Chu, 1900 Clement Street, San Francisco

— Nat Belkov, Eater design director

Mochi coconut brownie at Ditas

Ditas dessert.
Mochi coconut brownie at Ditas.
Paolo Bicchieri

The team at Sausalito’s Ditas, from front of house to back, is full of top-of-class dynamos. Chef Cody Buchholz crafts immaculate entrees such as a near-perfect cut of steak flanked by a trio of mushrooms and pea puree, and Andrew Fuentes shines with ultra-friendly service. But pastry chef Anthony Le’s mochi coconut brownie pushed the night into pure luxury. The sweetened coconut on top of the gluten-free brownie, which had a pleasant chewiness thanks to mochi flour, is just one of the many textural delights throughout this treasure. A coconut gel zhushes up the flavor and body of both the shredded coconut and the mochi, and dashes of cocoa powder and coffee provide bitter notes to hum alongside the sweetness. Brushstrokes of syrupy chocolate, little dollops of whipped cream, and chunks of pecan add to the grand slam. I suggest using your fork like a zamboni to get a bite of cake coated in all of those flavors and textures. I have always been and remain an ardent supporter of watching huge boats chug along great bodies of water, furnishing that love on the Washington coast. And there’s maybe nowhere better to catch that vibe in the Bay Area than at Ditas, and no better way to end that experience than with Le’s desserts. Ditas, 562 Bridgeway, Sausalito

— Paolo Bicchieri, Eater SF reporter

Ray J at Pizzeria da Laura

Dianne de Guzman

My favorite style of pizza can be mood-dependent. But somehow I will never tire of a Sicilian pizza and my favorite right now is the one at Pizzeria da Laura, done up as the Ray J. For me, every component is tight, from the fluffy, open crumb of the bread base to the toppings. The sauce leans into the slightly tart taste of tomatoes, which is offset by the sweet, light drizzle of fermented honey. Each square slice receives a bump of burrata, which offers a cooling lift partway through each square. I was also pleasantly pleased to discover two types of pepperoni, including ones of the cuppy persuasion, curling up so the edges get satisfyingly char-crisped. Basil and mozzarella are also in the mix, offering a vegetal note and melted cheese goodness. It’s a lovely pie for Sicilian pizza fans, and this certainly won’t be my last pie from Pizzeria da Laura. Pizzeria da Laura, 2049 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley

— Dianne de Guzman, Eater SF deputy editor

July 21

Green Garlic Pretzel Focaccia at Automat

On the way to the beach the other day, a friend and I stopped to pick up a few baked goods, along with one of Automat’s signature breakfast sandwiches on ethereally light, freshly-made milk bread. Satisfied with our haul, we were on our way out when the contents of the deck oven caught my eye, only to learn that the rising rounds within weren’t quite ready yet. We got to the beach, and I was elated to find that my friend had snagged a focaccia just in time, still glistening from its baste in allium-rich compound butter replete with confit garlic, scallions, parsley, and shallots. I read somewhere that the item’s inspiration roots itself in chef Matt Kirk’s love of Wetzel’s Pretzels, but for me, lifting the edges of the focaccia’s personal pizza box to inhale the scent of (lots of) garlic butter transported me back to freshman soccer practice after which teammates and I would devour a Papa Johns cheesy garlic bread. Sprinkled in the requisite coarse salt crystals, the 3 day-fermented, hot water alkaline-washed round nails low-brow-high-brow nostalgia, and was the perfect snack for a blustery San Francisco beach day. Automat 1801 McAllister St, San Francisco

— Nat Belkov, Eater design director

Whole turbot at Animo

A whole fish. Lauren Saria

My only regret after a recent dinner at Animo in Sonoma is that it took me so long to finally get there. I knew it was going to be good — after all, chef Joshua Smookler and front-of-house maestra Heidy Mu He have earned ample praise already — but I wasn’t prepared to be so impressed by the earnest menu that so seamlessly marries honest wood-fired cooking with influences the chef’s Jewish and Korean heritages. I’d be more than happy to return to slurp perfectly al dente cacio e pepe bucatini with its peppery bite ingeniously tamped down by the cool salinity of uni and to tackle another mountain of Manila clams dunked into a funky fish sauce broth that made my eyes pop due to the shocking amount of flavor packed into a single bowl. But I have to say that if you’re going to go, then go big and get the whole grilled turbot. It’s a perfect embodiment of the chef’s ability to take gorgeous ingredients, apply skill and fire and smoke, and turn them into something that sings. In this case, Smookler emprisons the prized flatfish in a grill basket before cooking it until the skin reaches a crinkly crisp. Then he amps up the silky flesh with a yuzu-based vinaigrette that will have you happily plucking the meat from the mess of delicate bones. If it sounds simple that’s part of the magic of this restaurant where the cooking so clearly comes from the heart. Animo, 18976 Sonoma Highway, Sonoma

— Lauren Saria, editor Eater SF

Vegan smokin’ hot mother clucker at Joyride Pizza

Vegan pizza from Joyride Pizza. Paolo Bicchieri

Thanks to the raunchy comedy “Joy Ride” playing at the Metreon in Yerba Buena, my friends and I found a perfect reason to hit Joyride Pizza: joyride squared. I’ve followed Jesse Jacobs’s pizza crusade since he launched in 2021, converting his Samovar Tea shops into upscale pie dealers. When the business debuted, though, there wasn’t a gluten-free and vegan option on the menu. That’s since changed, and I’m delighted at the result. The pizza was dense, chewy, and titanic, with huge Ben & Jerry’s-style chunky ingredients plopped atop passably vegan cheese. The chicken was more than sufficient, a house-made plant-based protein. My dining guests for the night included two Michigan natives, both of whom felt the pies were airier than Buddy’s, the original Detroit-style pizza, and the crown — that part where the cheese comes up the side of the pan — was flakier and lighter than Buddy’s, with its characteristic crunch. Now, the $32 price point is high; this is a luxury pizza. And it’s not fully vegan when ordered gluten-free, due to buttermilk in the dough. But when a bit of wordplay sets up a night of pizza and movies, one doesn’t say no. One orders the vegan gluten-free smokin’ hot clucker, slathered in barbecue sauce and heavily dressed in a cornucopia of vegetables. Joyride Pizza, 730 Howard Street, San Francisco

— Paolo Bicchieri, Eater SF reporter

Strange flavor-style figs at Hadeem

Dianne de Guzman

Sometimes you’re a fig person and sometimes you’re not. Yet, somehow, this fig dish at Hadeem was delicious enough to transform a table of two Eater writers (and Michelin party rejects) with disagreeing opinions on figs into believers. How do you funk up a plate of figs? Throw some chile crisp on it because Alice Waters would never. Add a base layer of tahini. Arrange some fresh leaves of greenery and fancy-ass flowers on top. As you make your way through the dish, the pops of chile crisp stand out against the sweetness of the figs, yet meld with the crunch of the fig seeds (just don’t think about that crunch for too long), all mellowed by the tahini and greens. It’s this mix of flavors that creates a balanced dish, one that can win over even skeptics. This was just one dish that hit from the night, among several others from the meal. In short: Chase down the next Hadeem pop-up while you can. Hadeem, San Francisco

— Dianne de Guzman, Eater SF deputy editor

July 14

Salt & vinegar chicken wings at Piglet & Co

If you’re the kind of flavor masochist who appreciates the acidic bite and mouth-puckering sourness of salt and vinegar chips, then it’s almost a guarantee you’ll adore this plate of chicken wings at Piglet & Co. The Mission District restaurant debuted in February, but a recent visit confirmed the menu of nostalgia-driven Asian comfort food has reached new heights. That stunning honey walnut shrimp and pork toast remains an essential order, but throughout the meal, dishes both new (charred Taiwanese street corn) and familiar (succulent mala barbecue pork ribs) had me sighing with delight. These wings in particular brought a smile to my face for being both utterly delicious — delivering a powerful punch of tang and salt only underscored by that crunchy batter — and an Easter egg of sorts for those familiar with beloved Hawai’i-only grocery store chain Foodland, which sells similarly flavored wings by the pound and pan. Chris Yang’s chef-y touches elevated his version to legendary status. A dusting of mixed peppercorns added a layer of pungent earthiness to ground the acid and salt, with a creamy yuzu-infused housemade ranch, flourishing with a bouquet of herbs, to slice through it all. As usual with Yang’s food, it’s a dish that can totally be appreciated on its face, but a little backstory only adds satisfying weight to the experience. Piglet & Co, 2170 Mission Street, San Francisco

— Lauren Saria, editor Eater SF

Beef fried rice at Toyose

Paolo Bicchieri

Eating plants in a warming world is more than just a good idea theoretically, it seems to be a good idea, scientifically, too. Still, at midnight after a raucously good time listening to Azure McClure scat her way across the stage at Dawn Club, we headed due west to Toyose, and once there, ordered the beef fried rice, despite our more enlightened selves protesting. The dish is rich in the way I want meat to be after however long abstaining: I want buttery, deep flavors of beefy goodness, a fried egg bleeding its yoke through the rice below. The cache of seaweed and sesame seeds on top of the sizeable portion provided a salty, nutty profile to the wonderfully-oily plate. You’ll almost certainly wait in line at this converted house-restaurant, even in the wee hours of the morning, so it’s a smart move to wait across the street at Flanahan’s Pub across the street, where drinks are cheap and ring swing is free. Then, you can return to Toyose once your number is called, step beneath the orange-lit awning, and plow into some beef fried rice, each soothing bite better than the last. Toyose, 3814 Noriega Street, San Francisco

— Paolo Bicchieri, Eater SF reporter

Imperial kaluga caviar at Kiln

A dish with caviar in broth. Lauren Saria

I recently had the pleasure of chatting with chef John Wesley of Kiln, dissecting the techniques and flavors behind some of the dishes at the new Fell Street restaurant. So by the time I dropped in this week, I was excited to sample everything. Plenty of masterful bites filled the meal — among them the blue lobster, Carabineros prawn, fermented potato bread, and squab — but allow me to mention one of the simpler but no less intriguing items, one I think speaks to the team’s impeccable taste. Caviar is almost a requirement at a fine dining establishment but it can sometimes seem … standard. Caviar along with a starchy vessel (blini or chips, sometimes tater tots) makes the usual pairing, but at Kiln the luxurious item takes a different format. Nestled in a gorgeous glass bowl, the orbs of roe sat in a pool of made-in-house onion vinegar with a light slick of chicken fat atop, ready to be scooped up and eaten by the spoonful. It’s a presentation I’ve never considered and maybe sounds odd, but it worked: the sweet tang of vinegar against the saline burst of caviar, rounded off by the subtlety and richness of chicken fat made for extremely well-balanced bites. To me, the dish shows careful consideration of flavor and texture, and enough trust in the composition to eschew distractions. It’s a dish that belies the thoughtfulness of the chef and staff, much like the keepsake Polaroid and candle given at the end of the night. Kiln, 149 Fell Street, San Francisco

— Dianne de Guzman, Eater SF deputy editor

Chicharron super burrito at La Palma

A burrito, salsa, and a bag or tortillas on a table. Nat Belkov

I have such a soft spot for a food counter/market combo. La Palma, with its huaraches, tamales, sopes, and litany of fresh masas sold by the pound, excels in both categories. On a recent visit, I opted for a super burrito filled with chicharron and spicy charro beans, the former of which was reminiscent of the outer bark peeled from a good rack of smoked ribs in its chew and crisp texture. And the tortilla swaddling those fillings, along with punchy chopped tomatoes, cilantro, crema, and guacamole, was pleasantly elastic. Ogle the cold cases and shelves lined with ready-to-eat items and pantry staples while you wait for your order. Try and fail as I did to resist bringing home a stack of freshly-pressed Sonoran flour tortillas, a hunk of queso de canasta, and a ½ pint or two of different salsas. La Palma, 2884 24th Street, San Francisco

— Nat Belkov, Eater design director

July 7

Lobster butter spaghetti at Pasta Supply Co.

It’s an excellent time to be a pasta-lover in the Bay Area. On top of standard bearers like Flour + Water and Cotogna, the region has welcomed a crop of new and more affordable options including Sfizio in the East Bay and chef Anthony Strong’s Pasta Supply Co. in the Richmond District. The latter only opened for dinner service on June 21 and already you can expect a queue on the sidewalk as soon as the clock hits 5 p.m. Of course, Strong, who spent time in the kitchens at Prairie, Locanda, and Delfina, delivered bowl after bowl of perfectly al dente delicacies. I have to shout out the mafaldine, which we upgraded to include fragrant black truffle butter. It’s a simple preparation but the frilly, long, and highly slurpable noodles had me chair-dancing like a happy kid. The lobster butter spaghetti makes a more grown-up option and yes, you should have them toss a whole tail on top. Each noodle shined under a light coating of sauce made from butter that’s been bolstered by lobster shells and smoky-sharp fermented chiles, while hunks of bouncy meat broke up the dish’s texture nicely. Mostly, the depth of the flavors at play — acidic, funky, and a little bit spicy — made this the evening’s all-around star. The shop offers fresh noodles and sauce to take home, too. But if you have the time to let Strong and his team do the work, why would you ever want to get in the way? Pasta Supply Co., 236 Clement Street, San Francisco

— Lauren Saria, editor Eater SF

Sake & ikura don from Iyasare

Dianne de Guzman

Sometimes I go into dips of sushi deficiency and, when corrected by a great meal, I find myself visiting more and more sushi places. Grocery store sushi (hi, Tokyo Fish Market!), American-style rolls, high-end offerings, I’ll try them all. So when a day off intersected with a need to go to Fourth Street in Berkeley, I decided to seek out and devour a favorite I haven’t had in quite a bit: the sake ikura don bowl at Iyasare. It’s still somewhat of a splurge, but how often do I have time for a leisurely lunch? Each element of the dish was well executed. There were melting bites of raw salmon, rectangles of tamago highlighting the layering of the lightly sweet egg, briny bursts of umami from the marinated salmon roe, and the chew and flavor of two different types of treated seaweed. The rice hiding underneath it all was cooked to desired sushi bowl done-ness, while the vegetables maintained a nice crunch. How to attack the dish is an enjoyable Choose Your Own Adventure of a lunch. Cucumber and rice in one bite, a tiny bump of wasabi added to the salmon in another, I picked my way through the bowl and wrapped things up very satisfied from my seat at the bar. Iyasare, 1830 Fourth Street, Berkeley

— Dianne de Guzman, Eater SF deputy editor

Yachae bibimbab at Daeho Kalbijjim

Food at Daeho. Paolo Bicchieri

Pretty much everyone seems to be well aware of the phenomenal Daeho Kalbijjim and its empire-esque reach in the Bay Area, even topping croissants in Japantown. At the same time, everyone seems to know the wonderful H Mart and its both emotional and impressive spread of foodstuffs. But until last week, I was more or less in the dark on both fronts. Thank heavens I rose to the occasion while traveling through Daly City and ordered this vegetable-stuffed, hot stone goliath. I whipped the strips of carrot and seaweed together as quickly as I could while the egg cooked into the cracklingly-hot dish, rich scents of sesame and pepper rising from the metal tray. The banchan alone are noteworthy: the classic kimchi was firm and flavorful, the kkakdugi chunky and crisp. For fans of budget eating, this meal is a win, too, as $24 doesn’t feel pricey when an entire armada of Korean fare shuttles from the kitchen. I can’t recommend enough to incorporate the entire dish of scintillating spicy sauce into the stone pot as the egg firms and to make sure to scrape the base for that paella-esque crispy rice. I didn’t cry, but dining at Daeho’s H Mart outpost was a full-on vegetarian revelation. Daeho Kalbijjim, 3995 Alemany Boulevard, San Francisco

— Paolo Bicchieri, Eater SF reporter

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