Restaurant Review

Cossu

A little night music
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paulr@sfbg.com

Having spent many months — too many months — watching presidential aspirants address television cameras from cavernous halls, I stepped into Cossu recently and found it oddly familiar. The restaurant is cavernous, and it even has a spotlit stage, although not for presidential candidates or other bloviating politicos but live musical acts. It also, until recently, was called Pasha.

The place has changed hands and changed chefs, according to one of our servers, and it's even (we were reassured) been redecorated. Read more »

A long look

Long Bar on Fillmore Street impresses with good (but not too fancy) food at reasonable prices
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paulr@sfbg.com

If you're old enough to remember Loongbar — and I'm too polite to ask — you might experience a moment of confusion about Long Bar. You might wonder if there's a familial connection, and why did the name of the restaurant split in two (some kind of verbal mitosis?), and what happened to the other O? But ... no worries, as the Aussies say. Read more »

Chinafornia

Dishes at Kathy's California Chinese Cuisine have a north-China look with western US influence, complemented by an old world Vienna atmosphere
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paulr@sfbg.com

The specter of linoleum haunts the neighborhood Chinese restaurant. Many of us have paid visits to these purgatories, where the food is tasty and cheap but the lighting is harsh and fluorescent and the flooring looks as if it had been laid down, without much love, during the Eisenhower administration. One ponders this trade-off, wondering, in particular, whether it's inevitable. Then one goes to Kathy's California Chinese Cuisine and finds an answer.

Rumors of Kathy's' culinary excellence had been reaching me for some time. Read more »

My kingdom for a dumpling

King of Dumpling in the Sunset is a fresh revelation of handmade deliciousness
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paulr@sfbg.com

As kingdoms go, Kingdom of Dumpling is a rather Lilliputian affair — a runt, actually, if that word can be used in conjunction with "kingdom." Dumplings are small objects, of course, even the Bavarian ones made from potatoes, also known as knödel, and they seem even smaller when described in the singular. Kingdom of Dumpling? Is there only one kind of dumpling, or only one permitted per customer, or (our worst-case scenario) only one of one kind permitted per customer? Read more »

Flaming in the Castro

A new branch of Brandy Ho's offers spicy, wood-smoked Hunan treats in the Castro's human aquarium
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paulr@sfbg.com

At Brandy Ho's newish outpost in the Castro District, the fuchsia-colored paper place settings are embossed with the image of a chili pepper. For spice freaks, this is the equivalent of the famous blinking boob in North Beach — the neighborhood that is the home of the original Brandy Ho's, which turns 30 next year. Let us meditate on the complex irony of all this.

People in the vicinity of their 30th birthdays often find themselves with procreation on the brain, so perhaps it isn't so surprising that restaurants sometimes develop a similar fever. Read more »

Little Delhi

Favoring curry
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paulr@sfbg.com

Manhattan joke: a part of Murray Hill, along Lexington Avenue in the '20s, is known as Curry Hill because of its profusion of Indian and Pakistani restaurants. Even if you hadn't heard the joke, you would probably recognize the neighborhood's scent: no cuisine I'm aware of has a stronger or clearer olfactory signature. (Backyard barbecuing might deserve an honorable mention.)

We have our own Curry Hill, but it's on Nob Hill, which pretty well mutes the word play, if not the scent. Read more »

Chan Chan can cook

The chefs at Chan Chan Cafe Cubano work their island magic with Cuban favorites
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paulr@sfbg.com

One is tempted to say that Chan Chan Café Cubano is authentically Cuban, but one has no idea, really. These days it is easier for Americans to visit Albania than Cuba, which, after nearly 50 years, remains sequestered behind the rusty remains of the iron curtain. Maybe Barack, if he manages to fend off the dazzling Republicans — he a grizzled ex-maverick with recurrent skin cancer, she a sporty gunner-down of wolves from helicopters (Tail Gunner Sarah?) — will rethink the wisdom of our Cuba policy. Read more »

Janitzi

"The cuisine of the Americas" served with style on Valencia Street
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paulr@sfbg.com

It's hard to imagine a restaurant actually failing on Valencia Street, but from time to time one does notice a casualty. The west side of the block between 22nd and 23rd streets, in particular, has turned out to be something of a killing field lately. The long-running Saigon Saigon folded two years ago, leaving a memorial — I hope not permanent — of boarded-up windows. Next door is a sliver of a space, once home to the amazing Gravity Spot, that has had multiple occupants since the mid-1990s. Read more »

Domo

The bar's the thing at this Hayes Valley sushi hotspot
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paulr@sfbg.com

For lovers of sushi bars (like me!), a sushi restaurant with a dining room consisting entirely of counter space would indeed be a glimpse of heaven. Sushi could be the ultimate counter food: you sit, you order a few things and watch them be made by chefs whose skills can seem quite magical, and once you've eaten them, you order some more. Read more »

Porcoteca

Uva Enoteca in Lower Haight offers pig-heavy eats with a dazzling array of wines
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paulr@sfbg.com

Uva styles itself an enoteca — a wine bar — but when you step through the door, the first thing you see is a large chalkboard with a butcher's sketch of a pig, with the major cuts labeled in Italian. Read more »