Review: International Smoke.

Chef Curry with the pot boy!

Chef and restauranteur Michael Mina has joined forces with Ayesha Curry, wife of Warriors basketball star Stephen Curry, to open up the most talked about restaurant this winter here in downtown San Francisco. International Smoke opened in November with high expectations and has been completely booked from opening day until March! Crazy right?! Well, the trick is to go right when the restaurant opens and grab a seat at the bar where you can enjoy the entire menu. Of course service won’t be the same as having your own table but if that doesn’t bother you why not give it a shot.

Complimentary Popcorn (3/10).

Anything complimentary is a nice gesture but this popcorn just sucked. It was stale, had no flavor, and definitely not worth my calorie intake. I had one kernel, no joke, and left the entire bowl untouched.

Buttered Curry Cornbread (8/10).

After the disappointing popcorn, the cornbread was actually freakin’ delicious. Extremely moist with the perfect balance of sweetness and a slightly spicy curry sauce on top. Get this.

Kalua “Instant Bacon” with Hawaiian Teriyaki and Pineapple Salsa (7/10).

I love a good steamed bun and while the bun was pillowy and soft stuffed with tender pork belly, the ratio was off. The steamed bun almost took over the pork belly and there was barely any pineapple salsa to add more complexity and texture.

Rib Combination: New Mexican Chili, Korean Gochujang, and American BBQ (7/10).

Overall the ribs were tasty but they all could have been more tender. I wanted fall off the bone, melt in your mouth meat, and these just weren’t it. Without a doubt my favorite flavor out of the three was the American BBQ.

Punjabi Spiced Fish Fry with Grilled Flatbread, Spiced Greens, and Cucumber Raïta (7/10).

The fish was nicely fried and seasoned and I actually liked the spiced braised greens underneath. The flatbread was slightly stale and didn’t have that soft pillowy texture that I was expecting.

French Fries with Garlic (7/10).

Basic fries are hard to mess up. These were fine, crispy yet fluffy, but if you’re advertising garlic fries, I expect more garlic.

Chocolate Icebox Cake with Toasted Marshmallow (5/10).

Overly sweet and one dimensional. It almost seemed like a crappy cake from a generic supermarket. Not that great.

Key Lime Pie with Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Whipped Cream (7/10).

This dessert was better than the chocolate icebox cake but I prefer a traditional key lime pie with a crust.

If you’re going to call your restaurant a smokehouse, every meat dish should be spot on and almost every dish needed tweaking. Maybe for the average American the food is good but for the price point I expected more. Service and atmosphere were fine but the overall food quality to price was my biggest issue. Therefore my rating is a 6.5-7/10.

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