Benu - SoMa

my first meal at benu many years ago i thought was very good but wasn’t very memorable, however my recent dinner here blew me away and was one of the best i’ve had in a long time. the words that keep coming to mind when thinking back are, deliciousness, technique, precision, execution, and service. truly a three-star restaurant, unfortunately nothing even comes close to this level in la.

Service
Professional, warm, and friendly. There’s a mandatory 20% service charge but no bullshit surcharges and no extra tip line which was refreshing.

Highlights
mussel
squid
shrimp
truffle, iberico taco
chicken wing
bread and butter
the fucking uni
quail
veal short rib

thousand-year-old quail egg, potage and preserved ginger

oyster, pork belly, kimchi

mussel, glass noodles, fine vegetables
the most tender and flavorful mussel i’ve ever had. the noodles and vegetables provided a nice crispy texture contrast.

squid, soondae, sesame leaf
chef lee’s take on a stuffed squid, really liked the herbal sesame leaf to cut the richness.

jellyfish-wrapped shrimp with kamtae
the sweet, plump shrimp couldn’t have been fried any more perfectly

from the oak - acorn, black truffle, iberico ham
the best taco i’ve ever had and another umami explosion.

chicken wing stuffed with abalone
the wing was deboned, stuffed with abalone, and grilled to give a nice smoky flavor. delicious.

"shark fin", dungeness crab, steamed custard
reminded me of a crab chawanmushi

orange blossom ginseng honey

butter x2
so good i had to ask for seconds

bread x2

lobster coral xiao long bao, homemade soy sauce and vinegar

perfect used-baby-diaper droop

sea urchin marinated in fermented crab sauce
fuck this was so good. take some uni, rice and crispy nori and this was flavor explosion in your mouth. best bite of the year. @chowseeker1999, @Hungrydrunk, @thecookie, @beefnoguy

green onion short grain rice with rock seaweed

nori

spicy caviar and egg yolk
use whatever leftover rice you have left to soak up all of this sauce

summer chrysanthemum tofu soup, baby corn and winter melon
nice and delicate but still flavorful, great way to reset the palate.

barbecued wolfe ranch quail
this is getting ridiculous, best quail i’ve ever had. the meat was unbelievably moist, tender and flavorful. and eating it with the xo sauce and black truffle butter just took it to another level. fucking #epicquail

xo condiment and pickles

steamed bun with black truffle

charcoal-grilled veal short rib
radish and pear kimchi
kohlrabi kkakdugi, scallion salad
tomato meju with lettuces
loved all the banchan and the lettuces to make your own ssam. again the meat impossibly so tender and flavorful.

omija and olive oil
nice palate cleanser that was sweet, sour, spicy, salty and bitter all at the same time.

milk pudding, salt, smoke, peat
thick and smooth with a salted caramel on the bottom.

ginkgo chip

tasted just like a fried sesame ball

I forget what this was but it reminded me of a vietnamese che dessert.

mint

toto

benu
22 Hawthorne St
San Francisco, CA 94105
(415) 685-4860
benusf.com

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Was there acorn flour in the tortilla or dotorimuk in the filling or what?

Hi @PorkyBelly,

Yay! So glad you liked your visit to Benu. It’s great, right? :blush:

It looks like you had many of the same dishes we had, but some new ones as well.

Bread & Honey Butter: Thanks for the reminder! I LOVED that dish! :heart: I was so tempted to order a 2nd helping of that Bread & Butter but I was already getting full. :sweat_smile:

And that Uni Rice! Amazing, right? :heart: Loved that as well!

The Beef Short Rib is new; it looked delicious and I wish we had that over the Holstein Beef we got (which was good, but not amazing).

The bowl of liquid for dessert, that might’ve been the same one we got which was: Malted Rice Tea, Pine Nuts, Pine Shoots perhaps?

Great report. :slight_smile:

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I’m curious why people don’t want to give their little write-ups on existing threads. It would make it easier to compare.

OMG… I love your food life.

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How long did the experience last?

Love Benu’s quail and especially their impossibly light truffle bun

Superb review and pictures! Think my last visit to Benu was at least 3 years ago, and I really enjoyed my visits thus far, almost as much as when Mosu was still in San Francisco. But Mosu relocated to Korea, and the only thing closest would be Benu (the grand daddy).

My friend who has been a regular since Benu opened, gets a slightly different menu each time. They apparently keep track of what you’ve had before if you go often enough, so to switch things up a little, yet keeps the kitchen’s creative juices flowing. Californios did that once when they had one star, and I visited twice over the course of a month. The fact Benu continues this thoughtfulness is quite commendable.

The courtyard looks very “Dae Jang Geum” (a nod to the Korean drama that had Asians in food panty melting mode when it came out).

Last time I had the thousand year old egg, it was a bit lacking in texture and that core gelatinous texture that something like Yung Kee (Hong Kong) was very famous for. The version of your visit looks far more improved over what I had!

I see quite a few dishes that they kept from my previous visit, lots of great memories!

Yup, I remember the Hokkaido sea urchin with fermented crab sauce. Good stuff indeed. I also recall the super eclectic wine pairing that was poured with it, a light bodied Pinot Noir (I think from Oregon) and it was very out of the box for me…but it worked!

The Wolfe Ranch Quail might have been partly inspired by chef’s visit to Yum’s Bistro some years back when the freelance food and wine critic for our local Chinese newspaper (a respected veteran in the community) took Corey and Yoon to a Cantonese feast…as Yum’s back in the day had this fantastic Cantonese style fried squab (listed as roasted squab, but it’s actually marinated and oil splashed onto the squab over the wok) with an intensity that was quite marvelous. As I bit into the quail, and unless the recipe changed, it was a reminder of Yum’s squab for me.

Good stuff for sure, I hope I can get back there sometime, glad you enjoyed!

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yes

Thanks @Chowseeker1999, your report was one of the reasons I wanted to go back.

And yes the bread and butter, uni, short ribs and almost everything was outstanding. Did you get nori sheets with your uni?

I definitely did not leave hungry, which i can’t say for many tasting menu places.

Yep I think you’re right

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So I asked upthread with no reply. Why not put your little writeup with previous ones? It would make it so much easier to compare things.

Thanks @PorkyBelly. :slight_smile:

No, we didn’t get nori sheets with our uni rice. That sounds lovely. Can’t wait to return. :slight_smile:

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About 2.75 hours.

thanks @beefnoguy and thanks for the great insight and background.

yeah i saw a few tables getting different courses. n/naka tries to do that same thing for their regulars.

i wonder if benu gets their onggi from the same pottery as majordomo

is yum’s bistro a place you would still recommend?

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The chef at Yum’s Bistro retired and sold the restaurant. Quality has taken a significant nosedive after new owners and chefs took over and original chef departed from assisting the transition, despite maintaining a very similar menu. It is not a destination stop anymore. Not to say it is horrible, but it is not worth a visit unless you have no other choices.

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The Indian pizza place next door is pretty good.

not soft shell uni :face_with_symbols_over_mouth:

Say what?

Fake news.

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