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Three New Restaurants to Try Now

Noodle soup and khao mun gai in Berkeley and Cal-Asian in San Anselmo.

Rabbit Tortelloni, Parmesan Foam, and Mushrooms at Madcap in San Anselmo.

 

Ippudo
Berkeley
In this age of instant gratification, what explains our willingness to wait so long for ramen? An openness to cults is part of the answer. But so is the quality of places like Ippudo, the latest wildly popular noodle soup purveyor to land within our midst from Japan and draw round-the-block lines. Inside, the baseline broth is a pork-bone tonkotsu, which the kitchen dresses up into two other styles by adding miso paste or a fiery chili mix. The ramen looks fairly standard but tastes better than it does most everywhere else, the textures contrapuntal, the flavors a complex sweet-salty-umami medley that is tricky to define but even harder to forget. 2015 Shattuck Ave. (Near University Ave.), 510-666-8807 —Josh Sens

Madcap
San Anselmo
After decades spent in service of fine dining rooms, Ron Siegel has the right to relax his apron strings. He’s done that, sort of, with his first solo project, which puts a neighborhoody spin on Cal-Asian cuisine. An avocado roll, bulging with shrimp and brightened with tart stone fruit, shares menu space with smartly composed dishes like rabbit tortellini with parmesan foam, and shimmering slivers of striped jackfish with kombu and compressed watermelon. In Siegel’s hands, herb-roasted chicken is an elevated bird arranged in a garden of bok choy, cherry tomatoes, and red-peppery romesco. The art-filled space has the feel of a cozy corner haunt, but a tasting menu underscores the kitchen’s high intentions. Think of Madcap as a destination restaurant for locals disinclined to cross the bridge. 198 Sir Francis Drake Blvd. (Near Bank St.), 415-453-9898 —J.S.

Chick’n Rice
Berkeley
The newest startup product from the founders of the Caviar food-delivery service isn’t an app or a labor market disruptor. Instead it’s a tiny counter-service restaurant specializing in a decidedly low-tech dish: chicken poached until tender and served with rice cooked in the resulting chicken broth. Chick’n Rice isn’t the first fast-casual joint to bring khao mun gai to America’s millennial masses, but its chicken is worth seeking out—as are the savory dipping sauce and side of concentrated chicken broth. Veteran khao mun gai eaters might quibble about the texture of the rice (which skews dry) and the non-chicken menu items (e.g., a too-lean braised pork). But in the end this is ideal takeout fare: inexpensive and packed conveniently in tidy wooden boxes. Even the mango sticky rice—presented as a kind of parfait cup—is built for the road. 2136 Center St. (Near Shattuck Ave.), 510-990-6576 —Luke Tsai

 

Originally published in the November issue of San Francisco 

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