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The Best New Restaurants to Try Now

 From Liberian in San Leandro to Korean in NoPa.

 Namu Stonepot



Kendejah Restaurant
San Leandro
With its preponderance of shiny boba shops and other assorted Asian eateries, you wouldn’t expect downtown San Leandro to be home to the Bay Area’s only traditional Liberian restaurant. But ours is not to question the blessings that the food gods, and owner Dougie Uso, have deigned to bestow: tender slow-simmered oxtails smothered in gravy so savory and rich that a second helping of rice is practically mandatory, and whole fried tilapia that you pick clean off the bone, dipping the crisp skin and soft, jiggly flesh into a green fried-pepper hot sauce with an addictive pickly tang. A meal at Kendejah might be your first encounter with Liberian cuisine. Chances are, you won’t want it to be your last. 197 Pelton Center Way (Near W. Juana Ave.), 510-756-6049 —Luke Tsai

RT Rotisserie
Hayes Valley
Roasting protein on a spit is caveman cooking, but the best of its kind requires care and craft. At this counter-service spin-off of nearby Rich Table, the chickens you see spinning over open flames have been brined in seasoned buttermilk for 24 hours and air-dried for two days to firm up their flesh. Just prior to plating, they are blasted in a broiler to blister their skins. The resulting birds, bursting with juice and jam-packed with flavor, rank among the finest simple entrées in the city. But they’ve got competition on the menu from a fat-dripping pork belly and a whole roasted cauliflower that tastes so decadent you might think you’re eating meat. That you can also order fries dusted with porcini powder only hammers home the point: Life is much improved since our hunter-gatherer days. 101 Oak St. (At Franklin St.), 415-829-7086 —Josh Sens

Namu Stonepot
At this fast-casual dining foray from the owners of Namu Gaji, the sizzle of meat and rice forms the soundtrack to your meal. If that’s music to your ears, you can thank the restaurant’s namesake Korean stone bowls, which arrive at the table hot enough to leave a mark—and to render just about everything they touch crunchy and extra delicious. The bowls crisp up a Cal-Japanese take on okonomiyaki and keep ramen broth at a roiling boil. Meanwhile, the bibimbap comes with enough California-inflected flourishes—seasonal vegetables and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil—to keep things interesting, but its truest pleasures derive from the layer of crispy rice that forms on the bottom of the bowl. And don’t skip the rice-flour-batter fried chicken. It’s one of the few dishes that owes its impeccable crunch to hot oil instead of hot rock. 553 Divisadero St. (Near Hayes St.), 415-926-8065 —L.T.


Originally published in the October issue of San Francisco 

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