There are only two Michelin three star restaurants within the city limits of San Francisco. Among the two, Benu is the most affordable: $248 tasting menu compared to $395 at Saison. The food is Asian with a French twist. But this is not your usual fusion restaurant. Chef Corey Lee prepares dishes with masterful technique and great finesse.
I dined here two consecutive years. Some of my favorite dishes are:
Oysters, pork belly wrapped in a thin film of kimchi skin
Sea urchin tofu with salmon roe
Tomato skin dehydrated into power and preserved plum
Salt and pepper squid
Lobster coral xiao long bao
Shiso, white chocolate snow and yuzu
Sake lees sherbert, dehydrated strawberry and yuzu
And to complete such an exquisite meal, chocolate truffles from La Foret
Srijith Gopinathan’s restaurant inside the Taj hotel has been Michelin starred since 2011. Last week when the new 2016 San Francisco Michelin Star ratings came out, it was elevated to two star. The restaurant has a cozy and old world ambiance. The food is Northern Californian with Indian notes.
We opted for the Six course Spice Route Menu, which includes:
Naan sampler with strawberry melon soup
“Summer chaat” with whey shorva, young peas and tamarind
Day boat scallop “Potli” with Goan shellfish broth, romano beans and scallop pappadum
Maine lobster with brussels sprouts kurkure, apple and coconut butter
Black cod with shrimp podimas, paratha crust and snow peas
Slow-cooked lamb rack with wild rice, biriyani spice, pea leaf coulis and sweet yogurt
Green apple gelée with douglas fir snow
Pear with meyer lemon,kataifi and pistachio
Chocolate and Figs with soft chocolate pavé, roasted vanilla ice cream and citrus lace
Mango lassi cremcicle and passion fruit profiteroles
Every single dish was perfectly spiced and orchestrated to perfection. The portions and number of courses are just right. Good attentive service and a comprehensive wine list. This is by far my favorite Michelin two star restaurant in San Francisco.
Aziza‘s Michelin starred chef opened a new restaurant this year and it’s named after him, Mourad. The food is creative Moroccan. $120 for the 12 course tasting menu.
SNACK: Shigoku oysters with champagne pearl and concord grapes, goat cheese pastry, eggplant spread in a tart shell
SANMA brussels . smoke . gooseberry
CARROT date . urfa . pecan
SALMON sunchoke . seaweed . cilantro
HEN EGG charmoula . cumin . quinoa
AVOCADO lentil . agretti . scallop
BEEF hazelnut . pumpkin . mecalef
COUSCOUS preserved lemon . blossoms
TISANE mint . verbena
LEMON huckleberry . vadouvan
HONEY & ALMOND beeswax . granita
After a disappointing meal at Ame two years ago, Mourad restored my confidence in the one-starred category in America. We absolutely loved the carrot dish! The beef is juicy and tender; the couscous with preserved lemon and candied sunflower seeds is light and fluffy; the mint and verbena tea is a nice touch after the meat course. We were getting a little full after the sixth course, but that’s just us. The restaurant is in the newly rehabbed Pacific Telephone Building, which also hosts Yelp’s headquarter.
RESTAURANT GARY DANKO*
Gary Danko has been a San Francisco Institution since 1999. Their food are not fancy or pretentious, just honestly good food cooked to perfection night in night out. You can pick a three course menu for $83. For appetizer, I recommend Risotto with Rock Shrimp, Dungeness Crab, Shimeji Mushrooms, Corn and Roasted Tomatoes
Seared Foie Gras with Caramelized Onions and Apples is a good alternative if you don’t like shellfish..
For the main course, Roast Maine Lobster with Potato Purée, Chanterelle Mushrooms, Corn and Tarragon
But dessert is what I come here for: Baked Chocolate Soufflé with Two Sauces
This is when I let myself loose on table manners, for I will not let the server take my cup until it is spotless clean. Trust me, it is that good!
There you have it, my favorite Michelin starred restaurants in San Francisco. I have also been to Quince**, which has a beautifully presented tasting menu for $198. I intend to check out Kin Khao, the newly starred Thai eatery sometime in the near future.
There is no doubt that San Francisco is a one of the best foodie cities in America.