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Skate cheek karaage at Aphotic.
Lauren Saria

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The Best Dishes Eater SF Editors Ate This Week

This week fried fish nuggets, cold Korean soup, and a comforting plate of potatoes

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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.


February 17

Skate cheek karaage at Aphotic

It’s been a big year for chef Peter Hemsley and his Michelin Guide-listed seafood restaurant Aphotic. Since opening in SoMa in March 2023, the restaurant claimed not one, but two coveted stars including a Green Star, which awards restaurants for their sustainable seafood practices. It’s easy to see why. On the tasting menu, Hemsley and the team showcase skate, often dismissed as a trash fish, and at the bar, they’re upcycling some oft-discarded parts of the bottom-feeder including the tender cheeks. Seafood fans likely know that fish cheeks — those lean and delicate coins of meat — are a delicacy in some Asian cuisines. Here, Hemsley subs them in for chicken in a bar snack of skate cheek karaage. It’s a supremely satisfying bite, with a craggy, crunchy batter that’s sticky with a yuzu glaze and decorated with small rounds of serrano peppers scattered on top. It’s also a prime example of the no-waste approach done right; the mild cheeks make sense as a vehicle for a fried, sweet-spicy bar plate, perfect for pairing with a softly briny Aphotic martini. In short: if you’re looking for a new destination to dine at the bar, don’t overlook this dramatically designed seafood-focused stunner. Aphotic, 816 Folsom Street, San Francisco

— Lauren Saria, Eater SF editor

Naengmyeon at Korean Superette

A bowl of cold soup with julienned cucumbers, a hard-boiled egg, noodles, and pieces of ice, from Korean Superette in Albany Dianne de Guzman

Since we’re getting to know each other through our weekly Best Dish column, here’s another tidbit about me: I’m not above ordering iced coffee in winter, so it follows that I’m also subject to ordering naengmyeon in February. On a recent visit to Korean Superette in Berkeley, I saw the restaurant had the cold soup on the menu, so I took the plunge (so to speak) and was rewarded with this delicious bowl. Slices of radish and batons of cucumber crested the cold broth and the bed of cooling shaved ice; the server helpfully offered to cut the noodles and vegetables into more manageable sizes, an offer that I gratefully accepted. Once I dug in, it was a cool, savory delight punctuated with crisp bites of cucumber, radish, Asian pear, and chewy noodles. Gochujang flavored the broth, adding some tang that kept me dipping my spoon into the soup and slurping for more. Add to the fact that it was a clear(ish) day on the back patio, making for a lovely lunch underneath the restaurant’s giant magnolia tree and a perfect setting for my week’s best dish. Korean Superette, 1539 Solano Avenue, Berkeley

— Dianne de Guzman, Eater SF deputy editor

Loaded home-fried potatoes at New Taraval Cafe

Food at New Taraval Cafe. Paolo Bicchieri

There are diners, such as the ubiquitous Mel’s and the quasi-fast food Denny’s, then there are diners. On Taraval Street, beset by years of construction, the Parkside standard-bearer New Taraval Cafe is one such diner. I hadn’t gone in the five-plus years I’ve lived on the west side — I’m an Art’s and Pork Store Cafe person most of the time I hit a greasy spoon west of Divisadero — but the food and ambiance lived up to the hype ten-fold. Moreover, I was delighted by the loaded home-fried potatoes. The chunks of avocado didn’t feel like an afterthought, an attempt to get an undue portion of the avocado toast crowd, and the drizzling of sour cream was the correct amount to balance with the cheddar cheese. The pico de gallo and mushrooms were a pleasant combination, too, with interplaying textures of chewy and bursty. The $14 price feels on point; with the bottomless, tinny diner coffee for $3.50, that means a proper, long meal to start the day can be enjoyed for less than $20. Plus, hanging out between the maroon booths with a friend, or in the early hours of the morning riding solo, is worth every penny all in its own right. New Tarval Cafe, 1054 Taraval Street, San Francisco

Paolo Bicchieri, Eater SF reporter


February 10

Peking duck set menu at Koi Palace

Lauren Saria

Lunar New Year isn’t until Saturday, of course, but that didn’t stop me and some friends from heading to Koi Palace this week for an early feast — really though, it was just an excuse to visit the legacy restaurant and eat a lot of food. In any case, we ordered the Peking Duck Set Menu, which includes an impressive six dishes for $188 when enjoyed by four guests. You’ll begin with a basket of jiggly soup dumplings, a fine start, but things really pick up when the platter of roasted duck slices hits the table. Folding the perfectly imperfect shaped buns around paper-thin slices of umber duck skin — with that almost impossible-to-visually-perceive layer of fat clinging to their back sides — always makes me giddy with excitement. The duck practically melts away leaving a sweet symphony of green onions and hoisin and bread in its subtle wake. Plus, at Koi Palace, you get to enjoy far more than just those gorgeous slices: your meal also includes steaming bowls of gingery duck bone soup and a bowl of gelatinous fish maw with five-spice-scented duck confit. The massive dining room with its vaulted ceilings and festive decor never fails to delight, a sentiment that can’t be uncommon based on the many large parties that filled the room on a cold midweek night. Despite being in business for more than 25 years, Koi Palace clearly remains as relevant as ever, any time of the year. Koi Palace, 365 Gellert Boulevard, Daly City

— Lauren Saria, Eater SF editor

Mortadella and parmigiano at Bar Sprezzatura

Food at Bar Sprezzatura. Paolo Bicchieri

There was an easy-going dark drizzle sprinkling the Financial District when I once again veered away from any lasting vegan sensibilities I maintain. This time, though, it was into my family’s Northern Italian roots, and it was the highly aestheticized, Blade Runner-looking Bar Sprezzatura that helped me make the plunge. And plunge I did, straight into Leoncini pistachio mortadella and aged cheese that tasted like pineapple on the back of my teeth. Chef Joe Offner let me know the formaggio of the night was 48-month-aged vacche bianca from Modena, a crumbling majesty seemingly designed for wrapping in sliced, pistachio-studded meat. The unadulterated, simple ingredients speak for themselves — and loudly — in a style attributed to Californian cuisine. Gluten-free bread was a lovely accompaniment, making for little cicchetti of my own design, globbing on burrata and caviar as I saw fit. Look, I didn’t even know Bar Sprezzatura had this much food — I visited the Art Deco-ish restaurant and bar to try out its Dry January series of nonalcoholic drinks, many of which I enjoyed. And, look, I get a kick out of just about any Italian food that isn’t entirely reliant on gluten; once upon a time, I ran a polenta pop-up with nods to my Lucca-raised grandfather. So go get the salumi and formaggi. Nonno would’ve approved. Bar Sprezzatura, One Maritime Plaza, 300 Clay Street #100, San Francisco

Paolo Bicchieri, Eater SF reporter

Guilin beef tendon stew at Noodles Fresh

The Guillen beef tendon stew from Noodles Fresh in a takeout container. Dianne de Guzman

I was under deadline (and under the weather), but what saved my day this week was a takeout dish from Noodles Fresh in Berkeley. The Guilin beef tendon stew features a melange of ingredients that together create a satisfying mix of flavors and textures that snapped me out of my funk. The restaurant is (unsurprisingly, given its name) known for its noodles, and here the bouncy rice noodles serve as a perfect base for the dish and a nice surface for the sweet soy sauce dressing to cling to. The thinly sliced tendon and beef shank added another layer of flavor, with tender tendons pulling apart easily with each bite. The pickled green beans add a nice smidge of acidity and tang to the dish, while a small handful of peanuts and cilantro add different styles of crunch. It was a joyful endeavor, picking through the ingredients for each perfect bite, mixing bouncy noodles with tender meat and crunchy bits, all slathered in a delicate sauce. I won’t claim this dish has any magical powers, but it certainly perked up my mood. Noodles Fresh, 2430 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley

— Dianne de Guzman, Eater SF deputy editor


February 2

Carrot carob babka at Hadeem and the Mushroom

Food at Mushroom and Hadeem. Paolo Bicchieri

I’m the type of dude who looks forward to carrot cake on his birthday every year. I think it’s because of the already-plated slices at the Palace Cafe in my hometown, something nostalgic and semi-sweet. So imagine my delight when Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, otherwise known as Spencer Horovitz and Alex Lauritzen, plated a carrot carob babka as the final course of their Hadeem and Mushroom collaboration dinner. Sinking my teeth into the duo’s gluten-free, vegan babka surprised me. It was deeply sugary, like maple syrup, with a crunchy crust followed by an indulgent chewiness. The near-perfect square was partnered with a kuri squash ice cream atop shatteringly crisp carrot caramel. Subtly savory but powerfully lovely, the ice cream was a home run. Horovitz, known for his inventive babka, credits baking wiz Michelle Fried for this wheat-free treasure; she used Cup4Cup gluten-free flour, rolling out the dough in paper-sized sheets before laminating and dusting the layers in cornstarch to allow for shaping. The butter is nigh impossible to distinguish from the real deal thanks to industry-favorite Tourlami. Now, carrot cake has a war-torn past, a strange history dissected by Irish podcaster and writer Blindboy. But if the spiced wholesome treat has a future in the Bay Area, let’s hope it grows from this awe-inspiring creation. Mushroom and Hadeem, San Francisco

Paolo Bicchieri, Eater SF reporter

Gilfeather rutabaga with smoked pork fat cream at Sons and Daughters

Lauren Saria

It’s been about a year since chef Harrison Cheney stepped into the San Francisco spotlight as executive chef at one-Michelin-starred Sons & Daughters. And in case you haven’t been paying attention, it was quite a year for the rising star, who took home the 2023 MICHELIN Guide California Young Chef Award in June. These days Cheney says the menu feels more solid than ever and on a recent visit on a rain-soaked evening, I’d have to agree. The food remains firmly rooted in the New Nordic style Cheney picked up while cooking at restaurants including two Michelin-starred Gastrologik in Stockholm, but applied to a bounty of ingredients from across Northern California. During this cold season, that means sustainably raised Caviar d’Aquitaine Perlita (one of the few items not sourced locally) in a sauce made from leeks and preserved summer vegetables, as well as sprouted and toasted buckwheat (nurtured lovingly under the glow of UV lights) with tender hedgehog mushrooms. But Cheney also has a way with, of all things, rutabaga, or more specifically Gilfeather rutabaga, which is technically a cross between a rutabaga and a turnip. On this menu, he transforms the mildly flavored root vegetable, sourced from Tierra Vegetables in Santa Rosa, into elegant ribbon-like noodles before drowning them tableside under a creamy sauce infused with smoked pork fat. It’s a New Nordic version of spaghetti carbonara, the chef jokes — but I assure you there’s nothing laughable about the technique and utter deliciousness on display in this dish. Sons & Daughters, 708 Bush Street, San Francisco

— Lauren Saria, Eater SF editor

Octopus at Alora

Dianne de Guzman

I was excited to try some of the dishes at the recently opened Alora, the new waterfront restaurant from restaurateur couple Anu and Vikram Bhambri of Rooh. I’m a fan of their Emeryville restaurant Pippal and was curious to see what their latest is like with executive chef Ryan McIlwraith leading the kitchen. What I found was an exciting Mediterranean menu filled with dips, mezze, pasta, and large-format dishes inspired by Spain, Italy, Morocco, and Turkey. But what stood out to me — and what I will most likely order again — was this octopus dish. I’m utterly clueless about how to make octopus at home, as much as I love it, so it’s typically a dish I want to try when I see it on a menu. What I loved about this dish was, well, everything. Each element of the plate worked well together. The oven-roasted and confited octopus tendril was tender with a touch of char from the grill, to give it some crisp on the exterior. That crispness was echoed in the perfectly layered potato pavé. The marinated cauliflower escabeche provided a nice sour, pickled moment in between other bites. But what pulled everything together was the tzatziki sauce, which McIlwraith says he was able to work on and develop during his travels. It was lovely and tangy, pulling everything together and brightening the various elements. It was a delightful dish, and I can’t wait to have it again once the weather clears, and I can take advantage of the back patio views of the water. Alora, Pier 3, Hornblower Landing, San Francisco

— Dianne de Guzman, Eater SF deputy editor


January 26

The Prog Dog at the Progress

Lauren Saria

Let’s start here: If you go to the Progress, that airy restaurant on Fillmore sandwiched between sister spots the legendary State Bird Provisions and Anchovy Bar, then you must order the barbecued duck. It’s a showstopping platter of thin-sliced, ruby-red pieces of bird fanned out like art around a pile of fried rice punctuated with roasted peanuts and fresh herbs, a perfect culmination of what was likely a perfect meal. But before you get to that grand finale, take a detour somewhere a little unexpected and very fun: Order the hot dog, a “secret” menu item available in limited quantities and usually only at the bar. If you split one with a friend it’s the right size for a savory appetizer, one made with a snappy pork sausage cradled between two sides of lightly toasted milk bread bun. The toppings lean into Korean inspiration: herby aioli, a layer of kimchi, dancing bonito flakes, and a flurry of crispy shallots, all umami and utterly decadent. It’ll show you a different side of the restaurant, a playful but still very delicious one, and it might just make you love the Progress even more. The Progress, 1525 Fillmore Street, San Francisco

— Lauren Saria, Eater SF editor

Koobideh at Middle East Market

Dianne de Guzman

I have long heard raves about Middle East Market for its groceries, sweets, and hot food, and finally, in a mid-afternoon search for lunch, I found myself at the San Pablo Avenue favorite. I love a new-to-me grocery store, wandering around the aisles and looking at all of the spices, freezer goods, produce, and more, but the prepared food section truly stood out. I didn’t come in with a game plan of any sort so it was lovely to meet the gentleman behind the counter who was game to let me try a few stews and find something I liked. The koobideh is the most popular dish, he informed me, so I ordered that with ghormeh sabzi, the stew I gravitated toward after the samples. This koobideh balances lamb against beef and draws out the best flavors of both. The only way I can describe it to myself, and to you, is that it was my ideal of a kebab. In what little space I have left to praise Middle East Market, I also want to shout out the store’s plentiful sweets case, from which I ordered Persian baklava and kataifi, plus a rose petal pomegranate Turkish delight. On top of the tea I was offered while waiting for food, consider me charmed by this market and a new frequent customer. Middle East Market, 2054 San Pablo Avenue, Berkeley

— Dianne de Guzman, Eater SF deputy editor

Crispy rice salad at Funky Elephant

Food at Funky Elephant. Paolo Bicchieri

There was something funky about the vibe at Funky Elephant on Wednesday night, appropriate enough. It was funky because there’s this rumor going around that San Francisco’s on the fritz and that Valencia Street is having a rough go. But the restaurant was packed, with a wait list full of chicken scratched names running in a column, and wild 8-bit graphics danced along on the wall to clubby music. The funkiest thing may have been the irresistible crispy rice salad, all the more so as the simple name belies a rich and delightful dish. The fermented pork is umami heaven and makes for a scintillating centerpiece to the otherwise simple, stalwart ingredients of lime, cilantro, and lettuce. Moreover, the texture of the fried jasmine rice is prime — crunchy and explosive and the ideal candidate for sandwiching between leafy greens. I couldn’t help but scoop the plate clean, making a main attraction of a playful and indulgent dish meant as a side or starter. There were other highlights I could pine over, such as a prawn-topped pad thai with spice and flavor as intense as Hannibal crossing the Alps with so many elephants. Funky Elephant, 1270 Valencia Street, San Francisco

Paolo Bicchieri, Eater SF reporter


January 19

Lamb loin at Mijoté

Lamb at Mijote. Paolo Bicchieri

At Mijoté, the central meat course is as well-composed a main as they come in San Francisco. It’s a three-piece band on a blue flower-rimmed plate: blushing red lamb flanked by a beefy felled tree of Maitake mushroom and a trail of pistachio crumbles. Together, the trio made for a classically built center to an affordable $82 tasting menu that flourished in the way I believe the kitchen meant it to. A delicate halibut and grapefruit dish introduced the band, and a regal praline and persimmon ice cream played the encore. This lamb loin confirmed what I’d heard to be true, which is that Mijoté is an ideal representative of elegant dining experiences that won’t clean out what remains of Uncle Scrooge’s pool of gold coins. Moreover, I was six years old when I told my dad I’d never eat lamb, just beef, at which point he assured me that, thankfully, the meat before me was from a cow, not a sheep. Of course, it was one of those white lies parents impart to their kids to help them overcome gustatory hurdles. I was in love at first chomp — and for a few blissful bites that buzzy corner of chef Kosuke Tada’s in the Mission reminded me of that love. Mijoté, 2400 Harrison Street, San Francisco

Paolo Bicchieri, Eater SF reporter

Tomato Is a Fruit from Handshake Speakeasy at True Laurel

A pink cocktail in a rocks glass with an ice cube in front of a pink menu. Dianne de Guzman

Look, I don’t take any pleasure in writing a Best Dish that’s unavailable locally, but my personal, unofficial rule for this column is to write about the dish or drink that I can’t stop thinking about hours after consuming. So with that in mind, I’m here to say the best thing I’ve had this week is the Tomato Is a Fruit cocktail from Mexico City’s Handshake Speakeasy. The bar team made a one-night-only appearance at True Laurel in the Mission on January 18 and brought with them a stellar cocktail menu of thoughtful, balanced drinks. All of the cocktails I tried were excellent, but I gravitated most to the Tomato Is a Fruit. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I ordered it — the menu merely listed Bombay Sapphire gin, along with strawberry, tomato, and coconut — but when I tried it, the name immediately clicked. The drink was a lovely shade of pink and leaned into the fruity aspects of tomato’s flavor, drawn out by the strawberry and coconut. I was relieved to find it wasn’t overly sweet, and in between sips a friend and I tried to pick out whether it tasted tomato-y at all. Hours later, I’m inclined to say that it’s the tomato that balanced the sweetness of the strawberry and coconut. It felt like summer in a glass in the dead of winter, and now I have my first bar stop planned for the next time I visit Mexico City. Handshake Speakeasy, C. Amberes 65, Juárez, Cuauhtémoc, 06600 Mexico City, Mexico

— Dianne de Guzman, Eater SF deputy editor

Salt and pepper calamari at Palette Tea House

Salt and pepper calamari from Palette Tea House. Lauren Saria

Most people who’ve lived in San Francisco for a while have thoughts about the best place to go for dim sum. But I’m of the mind that really depends on your mood — whether you’re craving delicately thin-skinned XLB or just a cheap bundle of dumplings to take to the beach. For an upscale dim sum experience, especially if I’m hosting out-of-town guests, I like to head to Palette Tea House at Ghirardelli Square, where the food comes from the pedigreed team behind Koi Palace and the views of the Bay simply can’t be beat. On this most recent visit, we ordered an impressive spread including succulent pork and chive dumplings, gorgeously slippery wagyu beef chow fun, and asparagus and maitake mushrooms kissed with the flavor of wok hei. But my favorite item of the morning was this bowl of salt and pepper calamari, each thick piece of squid wrapped in a shatteringly crisp batter seasoned with Sichuan spices. The texture made for a lovely juxtaposition between the crunchy batter with the tender chew of the squid. And with every bite a burst of flavor: crispy bits of fried garlic in one, then a shock of jalapeno in the next, all against the consistent background of ample salt and zippy black pepper. It was the sort of dish that had us politely pushing each other’s chopsticks out of the way as we grabbed for more and a dish I’ll be excited to enjoy the next time I’m playing tour guide. Palette Tea House, 900 North Point Street, Ste #B201A, San Francisco

— Lauren Saria, Eater SF editor


January 12

Vegan arepa at Andina

Food at Andina. Paolo Bicchieri

Rain pounded Franklin Street as I crashed into my arepa like Maverick’s upon flotillas of Sea-doos and surfers. A quiet part of me wanted to slow down, to carefully appreciate Andina and its owner Victoria Lozano’s new well-lit space. But I really couldn’t. Blame it on the tremendous plantains, both crispy and chewy, sandwiched between a massive portion of avocado and black beans. The ground maize casing was delightfully chewy, not gummy or dry in the way can plague poorly-made arepas or pupusas. It’s important to note the arepa, for the quality of the ingredients and attention to preparation, is not too expensive, either: just $13 for the vegan riff, a loving addition to the plant-based scene at an accessible price point. Order this ideal lunch alongside a basket of tostones — one of my favorite versions of this classic snack next to 24th Street’s El Nuevo Frutilandia — as both come with an armada of sauces, one of which is just a ramekin of more avocado. As Andina and Lozano’s literal family of businesses grows, including the on- and off-again Caldero and her new outpost inside Chase Center, don’t forget the quality of this Venezuelan restaurant’s offerings. Unlike Maverick’s, there’s no reason to wait for the ideal weather to pull up a table at this Hayes Valley phenom. Andina, 205 Franklin Street, San Francisco

Paolo Bicchieri, Eater SF reporter

Liberty Farm duck soup at the Third Floor

A bowl of duck soup from the Third Floor in San Francisco Dianne de Guzman

As a local, I don’t often find myself dining at hotels, but on cold winter days like the ones we’ve been experiencing this week, I’ll go anywhere with a warm bowl of soup on the menu. And so on a recent workday in San Francisco, I found myself at the Third Floor inside the Jay Hotel to both check out the new restaurant and warm myself up with a bowl of duck soup I’d recently read about. It’s a luxurious soup, to be clear, but one that surprised me — there’s a level of detail to the dish that stands out. First, I was heartened to see the restaurant makes its egg noodles, a nice touch that many places don’t undertake. The noodles were lovely and bouncy, with a nice bite, cooked just how I prefer. I felt the broth was also done well, comfortingly warmed with five-spice and bolstered with tender duck slices to punctuate the duck flavor throughout. The wontons continue with this theme, with duck leg wrapped inside, completing a trifecta of duck flavors that pull together well. The local duck scene — and more largely the poultry industry — is struggling with the arrival of bird flu late last year, and while restaurants will do everything they can to keep favorites on the menu, it’s worth some appreciation and thanks for the times you can indulge in a dish like this. The Third Floor, 433 Clay Street, San Francisco

— Dianne de Guzman, Eater SF deputy editor

Butternut squash mezzelune at Mattina

Mattina

It’s been many months since Mattina, the more casual restaurant from SPQR chef Matt Accarrino, made its debut on Bush Street. And, at long last, the restaurant has expanded its dinner hours to include Wednesday nights. This week I bellied up to the chef’s counter on Hump Day, and let myself be swept away on a river of fresh pasta and Italian wines. My favorite of the lot — aside from a slice of a wonderful little thing Accarrino calls Pasta Pie that’s like a pot pie stuffed with noodles, sauce, and enormous meatballs — was a bowl of half-moon-shaped mezzelune filled with date ricotta and swimming in a smooth butternut squash sauce. It was a refreshingly well-balanced take on a familiar flavor combination, the earthy sweetness of dates and squash well-balanced with a touch of acid. The amaretti crumb, produced by baking and then crumbling up almond pumpkin scones, gave just the right amount of texture to every bite. And despite it being the very first Wednesday evening the restaurant opened up for dinner, nearly every table was full. The neighborhood has clearly been craving exactly this: an approachable option for quality food and top-notch wines. Mattina, 2232 Bush Street, San Francisco

— Lauren Saria, Eater SF editor


January 5

Salt and pepper Dungeness crab at R&G Lounge

Dungeness crab at R&G Lounge. Lauren Saria

The commercial Dungeness crab season in California begins today — albeit specifically for the stretch of coastline from the Sonoma-Mendocino county line to the California-Oregon border, if you want to be technical — but that hasn’t stopped me from getting crabby a few days early with a trip to one of my favorites, R&G Lounge. A former co-worker first clued me into this restaurant years ago as a then-new San Francisco resident, and it’s since become a favorite spot to dip into when I’m nearby and there isn’t a long wait. Those two factors combined on a recent weekday, and despite the 2 p.m. hour, the occasion called for a whole Dungeness crab. R&G is known for its salt & and pepper version — a “Signature Dish” the menu declares — and when it arrived it was a golden, deep-fried crab masterpiece, expertly plated and looking (almost) too cute to eat. The batter had a nice crunch to it with a perfect dusting of salt and spices that inspired some not-so-classy gnawing on crab shells before exposing the meat inside. The batter does manage to flavor the meat some, but not too much to spoil the crab’s innate sweetness. The servers understood the (crab) assignment and came by to refresh plates throughout the meal as they became crowded with shells. The meal momentarily squashed my annual urge to purchase a crab and cook it on my own, and I’m looking forward to more crab dishes as the local season swings into action. (Sorry, not sorry for turning this column into a crab-eating diary.) R&G Lounge, 631 Kearny Street, San Francisco

— Dianne de Guzman, Eater SF deputy editor

Egg tarts at Golden Gate Bakery

Egg tarts from Golden Gate Bakery. Lauren Saria

To say I’ve been waiting to try Golden Gate Bakery’s egg tarts for years is not an exaggeration. When I first moved to the city, multiple people told me about how this tiny Grant Street shop made the city’s best Hong Kong-style tarts but had yet to reopen from its pandemic era slumber. A year later, I’d still never seen it open, and a visiting friend swooned while sharing childhood memories of enjoying the golden yellow sweets while wandering the streets of Chinatown as a kid. Which is to say, I quite literally power walked my way over to the bakery this week when I heard rumors swirling it was finally open. After a bit of a wait and cash exchange, I finally found myself holding a pink pastry box of fragrant, warm egg tarts on the sidewalk. My companion and I tore in as soon as we stepped a respectable distance away from the line of people still waiting for their baked goods, and I knew at first tsate that these tarts lived up to the hype. A sturdy pastry shell, flaky layers scattering across our feet like snowflakes, supported a silky filling that jiggled just so in the afternoon light. I appreciated the gentle sweetness of Golden Gate’s tarts, less sugary and with almost no discernable vanilla on the nose or palate. The glassy texture made each bite decadent but delicate. I can’t stress enough how much I recommend getting some for yourself...while you can. Golden Gate Bakery, 1029 Grant Avenue, San Francisco

— Lauren Saria, Eater SF editor

Salmon avocado fried rice at Dynasty Dumpling

Fried rice at Dynasty Dumpling. Dynasty Dumpling

It took a global shutdown for me to start doing Christmas on my own, ordering a fleet of dim sum and Chinese dishes for the morning of. Now a holiday tradition, I look forward to finding a restaurant or parlor to tick off my list. This year was Pacific Heights newcomer Dynasty Dumpling, the makers of this light yet indulgent salmon avocado fried rice. The abundant flavor and variety in this dish can’t be overstated as fried rice can often feel like a lazy dinner whipped up in lieu of real effort and pizazz. Not so at Dynasty Dumpling where Californian ingredients meet an old school Chinese American dish. The mouthfeel of the avocado meeting the texture of salmon is nothing new, as plenty of toasts in the Bay have proven, but it was my first time enjoying that combo over a well-fried bed of rice. The effect of the meal was the glee of late-night comfort food with a generous dash of upscale preparation. This dish is just shy of $20 — not uncommon in San Francisco anymore — but fear not as the portion is mighty as can be; This is either one gut-bombing lunch or a meal to be enjoyed twice. With the new year just yawning into existence, it does my heart good, and my belly, to have new restaurants in the ring, ideal for a city of hungry optimists to work through on their day in the sun. Dynasty Dumpling, 2786 California Street, San Francisco

Paolo Bicchieri, Eater SF reporter

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