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Italian, L/D, $, AE/DISC/V.
Saji Japanese Cuisine Sit at the sushi bar and ask the resident sushi makers what's particularly good that day. As for the hot dishes, seafood yosenabe, served in a clay pot, is a virtual Discovery Channel of finned and scaly beasts, all tasty and fresh. (Staff) 3232 Scott, SF. 931-0563. Japanese, D, $, AE/DC/MC/V.
Sociale serves first-rate Cal-Ital food in bewitching surroundings — a heated courtyard, a beautifully upholstered interior — that will remind you of some hidden square in some city of Mediterranean Europe. (Staff) 3665 Sacramento, SF. 921-3200. Mediterranean, L/D, $$, AE/DC/DISC/MC/V.
Sushi Groove is easily as cool as its name. Behind wasabi green velvet curtains, salads can be inconsistent, but the sushi is impeccable, especially the silky salmon and special white tuna nigiri. (Staff) 1916 Hyde, SF. 440-1905. Japanese, D, $, AE/DC/DISC/MC/V.
Takara The menu offers plenty of sushi and sashimi, as well as udon, broiled items, and the occasional curiosity, such as grated yam. (Staff) 22 Peace Plaza, Suite 202 (Japan Center), SF. 921-2000. Japanese, L/D, $, MC/V.
Taste of the Himalayas is primarily Nepalese, but the Indian influences on the food are many, and there are a few Tibetan items. Spicing is vivid, value excellent. (PR, 10/04) 2420 Lombard, SF. 674-9898. Nepalese/Tibetan, L/D, $, AE/DC/DISC/MC/V.
*YaYa deals in Mesopotamian cuisine, and that means unusual and haunting combinations of sweet, sour, and salty. The halogen-lit setting of blue and gold includes a trompe l'oeil mural of an ancient Babylonian city. (PR, 6/05) 2424 Van Ness, SF. 440-0455. Mesopotamian, D, $$, MC/V.
ZAO Noodle Bar manages the seemingly impossible: the food’s good, cheap, and fresh; the service is friendly; and there’s an inexpensive parking lot half a block away. (Staff) 2406 California, SF. 345-8088. Asian, L/D, ¢, MC/V.
SUNSET
Bursa Kebabs brings a taste of Turkey to West Portal. The elegant pistachio-colored decor suggests a California bistro, but the carefully prepared food is traditional. (PR, 3/04) 60 West Portal (at Vicente), SF. 564-4006. Turkish, L/D, $, MC/V.
Cafe for All Seasons reflects the friendly vibrancy of its West Portal neighborhood. The California comfort food doesn't set off fireworks, but it's reliably good and fresh. (Staff) 150 West Portal, SF. 665-0900. California, L/D, $$, AE/MC/V.
Chouchou Patisserie Artisanale and French Bistro is the place to go for pastry, whether you like it as an edible cap on your potpies or as a crust beneath your fruit or chocolate tarts. French standards — charcuterie, onion soup — are executed with verve. (Staff) 400 Dewey, SF. 242-0960. French, L/D, $$, MC/V.
*Dragonfly serves the best contemporary Vietnamese food in town, in a calmer environment and at a fraction of the cost of better-known places. (PR, 8/05) 420 Judah, SF. 661-7755. Vietnamese, L/D, $$, AE/MC/V.
Eldos is a cross between a brew pub and a taquería, with a few standard American items thrown in. Fabulous chicken posole. (Staff) 1326 Ninth Ave, SF. 564-0425. Mexican/brew pub, L/D, $, AE/DC/MC/V.
Fresca has gone upscale, and its Peruvian menu has been expanded beyond burritos. Still excellent roast chicken, seviche, enchiladas. (Staff) 24 West Portal, SF. 759-8087. Peruvian, L/D, $, AE/MC/V.
[TK]Gold Mirror tells a tale of old San Francisco west of Twin Peaks, where the servers are in black tie and the menu is rich in veal, from saltimbocca to piccata and beyond. Baroque decor; large weekend dinner crowds. (PR, 11/05) 800 Taraval, SF. 564-0401. Italian, L/D, $$$, AE/DC/MC/V.
Hotei is a marvel of great Japanese fare combined with efficient, accommodating service. Four types of noodles are the foundation around which swirl lively broths. (Staff) 1290 Ninth Ave, SF. 753-6045. Japanese, L/D, ¢, AE/DC/MC/V.
Ichi-ban Kan Cafe serves sushi, sandwiches, burgers, teriyaki, an all-you-can-eat buffet — are you getting the picture? The winning neighborhood tone is reminiscent of Mayberry, RFD.