Food & Drinks

The Best Restaurant Dishes BA Staff Ate In January

I’m not huge on New Year’s resolutions, and I didn’t exactly go into 2023 with a plan. I did, however, enter the year intent on eating very well, and if this roundup is any indication, so did the rest of our team. My highlights of the month were a beautiful, sweet-salty beef carpaccio from a Cambodian pop-up I follow around New York like a Deadhead, and a carbonara-ish dry ramen from a San Francisco chef’s counter, featuring uni and cured salmon roe that melted into a sort of briny pasta sauce. Other staffers’ best meals included life-changing okonomiyaki in Coral Gables, Florida, a caramelized onion torta in New York, and plenty more signs that, if nothing else, it’s going to be a very tasty year. —Elazar Sontag, restaurant editor


3115 22nd St, San Francisco, CA

It was a huge blow to the neighborhood, generally, and to me, personally, when Claire Sprouse closed Hunky Dory, a Brooklyn all-day café that served up incredible chicken sandwiches and cocktails. Some might say I even took it personally, CLAIRE. So on a recent trip to San Francisco, I prioritized stopping by Buddy, a wine bar that Sprouse co-owns with three other veterans of the Bay Area bar scene. With the warm service and the low-ABV sherry, vermouth, and amaro-based cocktails (including a dynamite clarified milk punch), I felt like I was back at Hunky’s bar. The tightly curated menu included my platonic ideal of a perfect bar bite—gougères generously topped with creamy labne and beads of smoked trout roe. It’s everything one could want from a neighborhood spot. If only it were my neighborhood… —MacKenzie Chung Fegan, senior commerce editor

Noodle in a Haystack

4601 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA

I’d read about the mind-altering experience of eating at this set-course ramen tasting counter in San Francisco, so of course I planned a visit when I was in town on a recent trip. I was extremely excited, but admittedly could not figure out what a set-course ramen dinner would look like. Was I going to pound six consecutive bowls of noodles and soup? That sounded good, but overwhelming. The entire experience ended up being much more gentle. Though the finale of the savory courses was a bowl of transcendent ramen with broth and all, the rest of the dishes were interpretations of the dish—calling on and repurposing the techniques and seasonings that make a bang-up bowl of ramen. 

What really got me was a dish that had no broth. A small swirl of bouncy, tightly wound noodles were slicked with salty shoyu tare and adorned with a lobe of uni, a soy-cured egg yolk, and cured salmon roe. I could’ve stared at the dish for hours, but the instructions from the kitchen were clear: “Stir it all up and make it ugly.” As the uni melted into the noodles and egg yolk glossed every strand, there was nothing ugly about it. —Elazar Sontag, restaurant editor

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