SANF May 2013 : Page 113

Italian white wine and dig into baba ghanoush, a great grilled-octopus dish with chickpeas and crunchy slices of cel-ery, and skewers of ground lamb with a delicious side of rice with sweet cherry tomatoes. For dessert, apricots are stuffed with mascarpone cheese and a sprinkle of pistachios. Looking to stay up all night? Finish with a strong cup of Turkish coffee. (S.D.) 584 WashinGton st. (neaR MontGoMeRy st.), 415-391-8228 $$$ RW two menus, one with more expected Chi-nese-American offerings, the other with Shanghai specialties. But the best item is off-menu: a honking pork knuckle, caramelized in Chinese spices and then deep-fried. And you can stuff yourself with the kitchen’s solid rendition of xiao long bao, a bocce-ball-size lion’s head meatball, Shanghai chow fun, and the like for under $20. (C.A.) 3641 BaLBoa st. (at 38th aVe.), 415-831-9288 $ CW (3/13) / ( 9/12) NEW Inner and Outer Sunset izakaya sozai Although Izakaya Sozai predates the iza-kaya genre’s newfound trendiness, this clean and minimal, often jam-packed little joint still has a wait for a table on weeknights after 7 p.m. Many ramen devotees say that its tonkotsu ramen is the best in San Francisco, but the rest of the menu is worth dabbling in as well. Izakaya novices can make a meal of braised pork belly, fish carpaccios, bacon-wrapped mochi, and tsukune skewers. For the initiated, there are takoyaki, skewered chicken hearts, and—when it’s in season in the winter —a lovely tempura treatment of a Japa-nese delicacy, shirako. (C.A.) 1500 iRVinG st. (at 16th aVe.), 415-742-5122 $$ dRW (3/13) M.y. China Martin Yan’s latest restaurant project is the new darling of Westfield San Fran-cisco Centre. Without walls, the front spills out under the dome of the mall almost like sidewalk seating. The menu leans toward the traditional from regions all over China, including clas-sics such as soup (or, as the restaurant calls them, “juicy”) dumplings and salt-and-pepper crab. Yes, it’s touristy, but it also makes a great stop before a movie. The theater is just an escalator ride away. (S.D.) 845 MaRket st. (neaR 5th st.), 415-580-3001 $$$$ RVW (2/13) Inner and Outer Richmond aziza As written on the menu—lamb shank, saffron, couscous, olives—Mourad Lahlou’s dishes bear some hallmarks of his homeland, yet his compositions owe more to modern global currents than they do to anything in Marrakech. A cucumber-beet pairing reads tradition-ally enough, but Lahlou turns the beets into towers rising from a purple pool of beet reduction and compresses the cucumbers into dense batons. He plates the combination as a low-slung skyline, landscaped with spiced peanuts and crème fraîche. A dense pouf of flaky phyllo is his take on a classic beesteya, this one filled with duck confit. The set-ting hints at Morocco, with the arched doorways of an ancient Moorish dwell-ing. But everything else about Aziza, from the avant-garde cocktails to Melissa Chou’s inventive desserts, feels very happily situated in the here and now. (J.S.) 5800 GeaRy BLVd. (at 22nd aVe.), NEW With its mellow surfer vibe, this fog-shrouded café near Ocean Beach is a far cry from the slick kitchens at Coi and Saison where Brett Cooper cooked before he landed here. The faithful wait on a driftwood bench outside the door, wrapped in blankets, until one of the few tables opens up. The meal begins with thick slices of homemade bread and ends with a short list of elegantly simple desserts. In between, a lemon-tinged tangle of radishes, avocado, and cucum-bers tastes as if it has been ripped from the garden moments earlier, and entrées, like the fork-tender Prather Ranch pork shoulder with toasted-bar-ley risotto and morel mushrooms, are as filling and special as a holiday meal. (R.L.) 4001 Judah st. (at 45th aVe.), 415-661-6140 $$$ W (10/11) 415-752-2222 $$$$ DRW (3/12) Japantown and Pacific Heights HOT nabe With its wall of glass and its tables with built-in convection burners, this mod-ern little Japanese nabemono—or hot pot—place steams up in no time. Choose from five menu items, including tradi-tional sukiyaki with warishita broth and thinly sliced Berkshire pork belly with a kimchee miso broth. After all the dip-ping of veggies and thinly sliced meat, the broth is full of flavor. At the end of dinner, the server will ask if you want to mix the broth with rice, beaten egg, green onions, and nori. Say yes. It’s deli-cious. (S.D.) 1325 9th aVe. (neaR iRVinG st.), 415-731-2658 $$$ DRW (3/13) shanghai house Shanghai House looks like just another nondescript Richmond district Chinese restaurant from the outside, but it is one of the few where you can get authentic noodles hand-cut to order. There are Chefs Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasin-ski offer an experience that’s so refresh-ing, you wonder why no one has tried it before. A few items are available by request, but most are portioned onto small plates, then wheeled past you on carts, dim sum style. Restraint is required if you want a meal with reason-able pacing—just as patience is encour-aged in your dealings with the waitstaff, who tend to let the plates stack up at your table. Oysters come with still-warm potato chips, steelhead roe, and crème fraîche. Tuck into this until your atten-tion is diverted by crab suspended in a satsume gelée, or a stunning stew of pork, shellfish, and kimchee. Desserts are artful gifts in tiny packages, includ-ing chocolate sesame wafers paired with a pinch pot of clementine-cocoa jam. (J.S.) 1529 FiLLMoRe st. (neaR GeaRy BLVd.), 415-795-1272 $$ DRW (6/12) state Bird Provisions ★★★ SANTA CRUZ’ newest boutique hotel offers a retreat-style atmosphere for vacations, conferences and weekend escapes. Luxuriously appointed rooms Poolside cabanas, dining and fire pits Solaire Restaurant features farm-to-table menu and local wines EXPECT THE EXTRAORDINARY 0$&"/45t4"/5"$36;t 855.425.7200 t thehot elpar ado x.c om May 2013 | San Francisco 113 EXPEC T THE UNEXPECTED outerlands

The Hotel Paradox

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