E & O Kitchen, San Francisco
April 5, 2016
E & O Kitchen is a modern Asian restaurant a few blocks northeast of Union Square. Linda and I joined Bo there for dinner on February 22, 2016.
It was very crowded that evening because there were three large groups dining at E & O. One on the main floor, one upstairs and one downstairs.The noise was deafening in the spacious open ground floor dining room and bar. E & O has seven private dining rooms in its three floors. Our table was not yet ready when we arrived, so we were offered glasses of Marques de Gelida brut rosé, a Catalonian sparkling wine, while we waited on the comfortable chairs by the front door.
The hostess came back rather quickly and offered an available small private dining room, which they had already set up for us. We accepted in a flash and moved to this nice quiet room. It was across from the open kitchen with its hot, open oven.
We chose our dishes, all to share, with the advice of Bo, who is a regular at E & O. He drank their house-made spicy ginger ale. I ordered the first of two glasses of MacRostie Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, while Linda had a local Drake’s Hefeweizen draft beer.
Here were our plates.
AHI TUNA TARTARE
shallots, scallions, ginger, lily bulb petals, seaweed black sesame crackers
The diced raw tuna was of good quality, nicely flavored with the chopped shallots, etc. The sesame crackers were thin, crisp and a good flavor and texture match with the tuna.
INDONESIAN CORN FRITTERS
sweet tangy chili soy sauce
The flavor of the fresh corn kernels came through well after their battering and deep frying. Fortunately the dipping sauce was on the side and was to be used with discretion.
BUTTERNUT SQUASH DUMPLINGS
thai red curry lemongrass sauce, basil oil
“Thai red curry” sounds menacing, but the sauce was actually quite well balanced and created a good, aromatic dish. Green curry is hotter. Both are usually made from a prepared multi-ingredient paste cooked in coconut milk.
DRY FRIED GREEN BEANS
ginger, garlic, scallions, chilies
This staple of American Chinese restaurants was well seasoned. One did not have to eat the chilis, just enjoy their effect, which was pulling in the same direction as the ginger and garlic; otherwise boring green beans need this boost.
tofu, thai basil, chilies, dark soy
The soy sauce, which had been absorbed by the eggplant and tofu, dominated the flavorings, but the eggplant flavor still came through well.
INDONESIAN FRIED RICE
gulf white prawns, char siu pork, vegetables, egg, chilies
This fried rice provided a good, well flavored background and palate cleanser for the other dishes.
free range chicken breast, lemongrass, turmeric, peanut sauce
The skewered, marinated chicken breasts were well grilled. The traditional peanut sauce was good. The chunks of raw vegetables provided a contrast.
We finished with coconut sorbet, dolce de leche and green tea ice cream.
A refreshing finish.
We really enjoyed our meal. Each dish was well conceived in the choice and relationship of the flavorings to the main ingredient. The spiciness was evident, but properly constrained for American palates. (There were sauces to heat things up for those who desired.) The pace was surprisingly good considering the huge number of diners throughout the restaurant. While the service was not complicated: putting bowls in the middle of the table, the servers were always genial. The noise level was quiet when the door to our room was closed. Thank you, Bo, for taking us to E & O Kitchen.