the house: Modern Asian Beacon in Italian Sea [CLOSED]

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Restaurant San Francisco

The House has a common name, but distinctive Asian cuisine.

This North Beach Asian cafe rarely gets mentioned as a heavy hitter in the San Francisco dining scene, which is a shame, since the food is consistently terrific at the house. Maybe it’s because of its proximity to Italian tourist traps and low-rent strip joints. I’ll stop the speculation and savor Larry Tse and wife Angela’s reasonable marvel, which is still going strong in its fifteenth year.

We received cool, complimentary cucumbers dressed in chile-infused sesame oil, studded with sesame seeds.

Salad San Francisco

Tse tossed his Caesar salad with crispy bay scallops ($8).

Salad San Francisco

Special Heirloom tomato salad featured mixed greens, caramelized Black Mission Figs and lemon shallot dressing.

Asian Food San Francisco

The house’s top-flight salmon rolls ($7.50), encased in delicately fried nori, came topped with orange smelt eggs and plated on spicy Asian slaw, which included cabbage, chilies, chile oil and sesame seeds. House-made Chinese hot mustard provided another flavor jolt.

Crab Cake San Francisco

A pear-shaped Maine crab cake ($9.50) plumed with a fried plantain chip arrived with a dish of pickled ginger remoulade and two colorful radish discs topped with pastel green tobiko (flying fish eggs), plus citrus, lemongrass and balsamic oils. Plenty of perfectly good crabs reside in the Bay Area, so it’s curious Chef Tse would defer to Maine to construct his crab cakes. Still, I can’t argue with the flavor.

Asian Food San Francisco

An inventive appetizer special of red and white tuna ceviche was served in a bowl with chile coconut milk broth, fried grains of rice and dyed tobiko eggs.

Asian Food San Francisco

Warm wasabi house noodles and Angus flatiron steak ($17) were plated with another big scoop of Asian slaw. Tender sliced steak, springy noodles and spicy slaw were a fabulous combination.

Asian Food San Francisco

Grilled sea bass ($24) is a house specialty, with good reason. The buttery fish was glazed with garlic, ginger and soy ($24) then plated with garlic noodles and snap-fresh string beans.

Asian Food San Francisco

My thick-cut but tender Niman Ranch pork chop was lacquered with rich pomegranate currant sauce ($18).

The chop was supposed to come with mashed potatoes and asparagus, a traditional but boring duo. I asked the manager if I could get replacement sides, and he granted me garlic noodles. They were udon-like, topped with a light sauce and thin strips of purple cabbage.

To drink, I had a glass of iced black tea with a single pitted lychee in it. Allison drank a glass of fresh-squeezed lemonade.

Dessert San Francisco

Apple crumb pie ($7.50) rested on the counter between our table and the kitchen. This signature house dessert couldn’t escape our focus. It arrived warm, dusted with powdered sugar. I appreciated the sweet baked apple slabs and excellent crumble.

Dessert San Francisco

This dessert special was nearly as good as the pie. A moist blueberry and buttermilk bread pudding cube came drizzled with creme Anglaise and served with sweet berries.

I only get to spend a week or so each year in the Bay Area, so I don’t like to repeat restaurants, but when a restaurant is as good as the house, there’s no inner conflict.


Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

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