Archive for the 'Benu' Category

Benu, San Francisco

I maintain a fairly lengthy list of restaurants in the Bay Area that I want to visit. Each time I cross the country from East to Left I seem to be overly constricted by time or budget, which makes for very slow progression through my ever increasing line-up. Last November, by the generosity of The Bro, I was able to make a decent little advance through my SF roster.

benu san francisco table setting

After a run along the water, a kick-ass lunch at Danny Bowien’s Mission Chinese Food, a tour of really long staircases, and a hike through the Sutro Baths, The Bro and I were amped for dinner at Corey Lee’s Benu.

The Menu:

benu san francisco 1000 year quail egg

Thousand-year-old quail egg, potage, ginger. A two week preserving process yielded a superb quail egg. The potage of cabbage and bacon was a nice supporter. Of the dozen+ quail egg openers I’ve had at as many restaurants over the past several months, this was easily my favorite.

benu san francisco oyster pork belly kimchi

Oyster, pork belly, kimchi. A great contrast of the cold oyster to the hot belly. A good pepper-like spice with the lingering pork richness was great.

benu san francisco potato salad anchovy

Potato salad with anchovy. With celery and caramelized Fresno Chile curls. Another fantastic contrast, this time of the sweet crunchy anchovies to the soft starchy potato salad.

benu san francisco pumpkin tofu

Homemade pumpkin tofu. Soy bean and butternut squash tofu with pumpkin seeds, pumpkin juice, and Korean sea salt. Not a particular standout for me, but the pumpkin seeds and juice were very enjoyable.

benu san francisco abalone porridge matsutake pine

Chilled porridge, abalone, matsutake mushroom, pine. The abalone had a good texture. A thorough chew of the mushroom rewarded with great earthy flavor. The pine nuts were a nice little surprise.

benu san francisco monkfish liver persimmon mustard

Monkfish liver, persimmon, turnip, mustard, brioche. We were told this used to be made with duck liver before the foie ban. I thought the monkfish liver had a bitterness that made the dish more interesting than I imagined the foie to be. Good compliments of mustard spice and sweetness from crystallized mustard seeds. The crunchy turnips were nice to break up the flavors and cleanse between bites.

benu san francisco frozen sake lees chestnut apple yuzu

Sake lees, chestnut, green apple, yuzu. I thought this dish was terrific. The frozen sake lees were phenomenal; very exciting when paired with rich chestnut puree and sweet apple gelee. The yuzu foam had a vibrant, bright energy that heightened the ensemble.

benu san francisco eel feuille de brick

Eel, feuille de brick, crème fraîche, lime. Beautiful umami combination of eel wrapped in filo. To be dipped in a cooling, tangy creme fraiche with lime zest.

benu san francisco omasum tripe scallop chive lovage

Omasum tripe, scallop, yellow chive, lovage. The dish was well-spiced. The tripe in particular was a pleasure, with a great density and snap.

benu san francisco salt and pepper squid

Salt and pepper squid. The Bro was a huge fan of the squid chip. A cracker flavored with squid ink topped with confit squid, pickled serrano, garlic creme fraiche, cilantro, garlic and chile powders. I got pretty excited about the pickled serranos.

Lobster in two courses:

benu san francisco lobster xiao long bao

– xiao long bao. Shanghai style soupy dumplings filled with a perfect lobster broth. Contrasted with a potent Banyuls/fermented soy vinegar.

benu san francisco lobster noodles fines herbes

– fresh noodles with fines herbes. Damn! Delicious. Like a refined high-end bolognese. Lobster stock, veal stock, bacon, garlic, red wine vinaigrette, and classic Italian fines herbes.

benu san francisco rabbit cassoulet black truffle bun

Rabbit cassoulet with black truffle bun. As delightfully rich as it should be with good starchy beans. Accompanied by a steamed bun flavored with black truffles wrapped around a dense but soft rabbit sausage.

benu san francisco beef rib pear broccoli burdock

Beef rib, pear, broccoli, burdock, charred scallion, fermented pepper. As expected, a flawless cut of beef rib. I adored the fermented pepper sauce with its lasting smoky heat that was mellowed by the asian pear puree.

benu san francisco sharks fin soup dungeness crab

“Shark’s fin” soup, dungeness crab, Jinhua ham, black truffle custard. Chef Lee’s famous faux shark fin soup. The crab lent an oceanic salinity for the ‘fin’ and broth. The grand earthy truffle is always good.

benu san francisco shiso white chocolate almond pomegranate

Shiso, white chocolate, almond, pomegranate. The dryness of the frozen shiso was really cool..haha..get it? I loved the herbaceousness of the shiso against the rich white chocolate snow. The pomegranate seeds gave a fun bright pop.

benu san francisco spice cake hucklyberry

Spice cake, huckleberry, yogurt, oatmeal ice cream. Seasonally appropriate. Possibly a little distracted and disjointed, but a fun dish to eat.

benu san francisco chocolates

Chocolates. White chocolate with dried fruit. Sesame chocolate with a good crunch. Dark chocolate with cognac. Walnut chocolate with walnut liquor.

Some wines we were served:

benu san francisco winebenu san francisco winebenu san francisco winebenu san francisco wine

Date of visit: November 8, 2012

Benu. 22 Hawthorne St. San Francisco, CA. 415.685.4860  http://www.benusf.com/

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