Not all the fusing, meantime, is flawless. It should be back to the drawing board for the seared blue-fin tuna belly ($28), a slim filet of doubtless pricey fish — in sushi bars, tuna belly is prized for its fattiness and commands a high price — that does not respond well to heat. Fish fat might be highly desirable when uncooked, but when cooked, it develops a strong, acrid scent and flavor I found dislikable despite the camouflage of celery-root puree, bean sprouts, and lime-herb sea salt. Since it takes all kinds to make a world, it did not entirely surprise me that my companion liked the tuna belly as much as I deplored it; he is, after all, a tireless eater of crackly, crinkly, aromatic bronze skin, whether of chicken or salmon. There was something deeply atavistic going on here, some ghost conjured from the hunter-gatherer past whose presence I could sense but not see, something about smoky, fatty flesh. I traded for the remains of the duck, gamy but still civilized.
The petits fours — an intense chocolate tart the size of a half-dollar and an orange financier of about the same size, glazed with Cointreau or some other orange liqueur — make a nice postprandial nibble. Sweet tooths of a harder core will want something more substantial, though, and among the more interesting of the larger choices is a black-sesame blancmange ($6.50), essentially a kind of pudding served in a nifty little capped pot and topped with pineapple dice: sweet but not too sweet, and interesting, though not shocking. *
Tues.–Sun., 5:30–10:30 p.m. (Fri. until 11:30 p.m.)
1638 Post, SF
Beer, wine, sake