Top Tastes

Top Tastes is my usual run-down of tastes over the past two weeks. Rather than a list of all-time favorites (another thing altogether), it’s highlights since my last newsletter, often from new openings. Many don’t make the cut, being a revisit written about before or simply not as stand-out as dishes mentioned.

Bek Se Ju (herbal Korean rice/ginseng wine) & popcorn at Toyose

Bek Se Ju (herbal Korean rice/ginseng wine) & popcorn at Toyose


Insanely good Seabass at Circolo

Insanely good Sea Bass at Circolo (photo: Erin Kunkel for Circolo Restaurant)

• At Circolo, Miso-glazed Sea Bass ($23) with black forbidden rice, organic carrots and aji-amarillo coconut sauce, is the piece de resistance in a line of winning entrees. Unexpectedly, the entrees often shine over starters and salads (the opposite of many restaurants). I’m also delighted with a playful “Surf & Turf” (ask for it – a combo of two dishes): free range Sonoma Squab and a juicy Dayboat Scallop on chorizo-infused lentils.

Creole Shrimp with citrus and tequila foam is available at One Market‘s bar… ideal with a cocktail or sparkling wine, the juicy shrimp benefit from a light, zesty blend of flavors in the foam.

• Funky Toyose is an eatery populated by hip, young Koreans and groups of friends in an Outer Sunset garage… yes, a garage. It’s been around awhile and is far from the best Korean food, but it’s hearty, gratifying and the experience is great fun, with the substantial seafood pancake/pajeon being ideal to share.


Seafood Pancake at Toyose

Seafood Pancake at Toyose

• At One Market’s new Weekly Beast dinner (every Friday and Saturday night for a reasonable $49 per person and $20 to add wine pairings), an animal is served in five courses. We’ve seen whole hog dinners and the like proliferate, but how about whole goat? Lamb? Duck? Rabbit? Not as often. Chef Mark Dommen sources animals from local farms. My mouth waters reading the pig menu, with each dish thankfully available a la carte in the restaurant or bar. But first time around, I decided to go for goat, something I eat usually at Mexican hole-in-the-wall joints, but don’t see much otherwise. Goat Neck Ragu was my favorite: tender, shredded goat neck with pillowy gnocchi and Parmesan foam… paired with a 2004 Martin & Weyrich Nebbiolo from Paso Robles with notes of blackberry and tobacco.

Goat Neck Ragu at One Market

Goat Neck Ragu at One Market

Circolo begs a second mention for highly addictive  Plumed Duck Confit Tacos ($7), reminiscent of authentic Mexican street food with gourmet freshness.

Grilled Pork Bahn Mi ($4.25) at Market Street’s take-out only Cafe Dolci (I know… Italian name, Vietnamese food) is a worthy lunch on rightly crusty, tender French bread.

Bright interior of Queen's Louisiana matches Zydeco music & friendly staff

Bright interior of Queen’s Louisiana matches Zydeco music & friendly staff


• It’s old news by now: I’m mad about all things New Orleans. This is not a vegetarian place, by any means. Lots of fried crawfish tails, catfish, Gulf shrimp, gumbo and so on. As it should be. With a focus on Po Boys and Nola’s local Community Coffee served, Queen’s Louisiana Po-Boy Cafe also serves dense, but tasty straight-outta-the- frier, Hush Puppies with honey butter, as a side or $2.50 for three.


• I couldn’t resist this Fall dessert at One Market: the Great Pumpkin ($10), pumpkin doughnuts, maple syrup pot de creme, pecans, Tahitian vanilla bean ice cream.

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