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Shabu-shabu with wagyu beef

The bar heats up at happy hour

A creative take on tiramisu

The Stars Align

When Michael Mina brings one of the city’s most accomplished chefs to run his kitchen, the food is lighter and brighter, yet still Mina all the way.

I had this stunning dish as part of the six-course tasting menu, which, at $125, is not quite the budget-buster you might imagine (a nine-course tasting menu at the French Laundry is $270). It’s also the best way to experience the restaurant because it showcases Siegel’s nimble work with seafood. The night I had the prix fixe, it moved easily from kampachi sashimi to flour-dusted abalone with turnips, shiitakes, and miso consommé, past the turbot, and finally to a vermilion rib eye, its beefiness balanced by sancho pepper gastrique and nettle purée.

Because I was dining alone, I opted to sit at the bar, in part because I thought I’d look less like a weirdo, but also because it was more fun. Though the cocktail menu is awash in shiso foam, the crowd around me seemed partial to dirty martinis and oaky chardonnay. As my dessert arrived (a riff on tiramisu, updated with white chocolate spheres filled with mascarpone and perched on moist, milk-dusted blocks of coffee-soaked sponge cake), tuna tartare went out to a couple in the corner. Three other parties soon ordered the same. Maybe Michael Mina’s restaurant isn’t the best reflection of the city’s current culinary leanings, but I picked up high levels of customer contentment. And who needs fashion when you’ve got drawing power over time?

 

The Ticket
A recommended dinner for two people (before drinks, tax, and tip).

Tuna tartare......................................................$19
Shabu-shabu.....................................................$35
Black truffle fumé–poached turbot....................$43
Rib eye with maitake and sancho pepper..........$49
Dessert medley for two.....................................$30
Total...............................................................$176

Michael Mina, 252 California St. (near front St.), 415-397-9222; Stars Received: 3

 

Originally published in the January 2013 issue of San Francisco.

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