A Celebratory Treat!

What better way to celebrate our anniversary than to dine at one of the best restaurants in San Francisco.

Not only is Benu an outstanding restaurant when I dined there for my birthday in 2016, it’s also part of the restaurant group that I work for. Since Tommaso had never been there and I had been raving about it over the last two years, I thought it would be a perfect restaurant to celebrate our special occasion.

Benu’s Courtyard.

The serene minimalistic entrance to Benu with autumn hoshigaki hanging.

Champagne Greeting.

We were greeted by complimentary champagne, a nice gesture to start the meal.

The first 8 dishes were comprised of the small delicacies back to back. Since I had dined at Benu before, chef replaced some of the “signature” dishes so that one could try something new every visit.

Small Delicacies: Thousand Year Old Quail Egg with Ginger and Cabbage.

A signature of chef Corey’s is a modern interpretation of a Chinese delicacy called “thousand year old egg” or “century egg”. Essentially it’s an egg in a mixture of clay, ash, salt, and other ingredients that can take anywhere from a few weeks to months to preserve. This version used quail eggs (Chinese also use chicken or duck eggs as well) nestled in vibrant cabbage “juice” flavored with pungent ginger.

Small Delicacies: Stuffed Mussel with Glass Noodle and Vegetables.

A stunning presentation of layers of crunchy vegetables and glass noodle stuffed inside a plump mussel. I can only imagine the labor that goes into this visually beautiful dish.

Small Delicacies: Fried Shrimp Wrapped in Jellyfish.

Crispy shrimp with lightly fried and had the most supple sweet meat.

Small Delicacies: Monterey Squid Stuffed with Korean Blood Sausage Wrapped in Sesame Leaf.

Lightly charred tender squid was stuffed with Korean blood sausage and wrapped so elegantly in a whole sesame leaf.

Small Delicacies: Gingko Nut Pancake with Eel and Sansho.

This was almost like an “Asian” inspired taco with a thin pancake made from ground gingko nuts topped with small pieces of cooked eel, herbs, and sansho that added a nice spice.

Small Delicacies: Dungeness Crab Melt with Fermented Pepper Dip.

The cutest mini crab melt sando ever! Perfectly browned and toasted with sweet crab meat stuffed in between and a rich pepper dip on the side. This was almost like a rendition of an amped up “grilled cheese and tomato soup”.

Small Delicacies: Dungeness Crab Melt with Fermented Pepper Dip.

Perfectly cut on the diagonal.

Small Delicacies: Artichokes with Soy Milk Noodle and White Truffle.

Delicate flavors of tender artichoke with a creamy sauce and strands of soy milk noodles topped with aromatic white truffle.

Small Delicacies: Stuffed Chicken Wing with Abalone and it’s Liver.

This was a killer dish. A boneless chicken wing, perfectly juicy, stuffed with abalone and its liver. Absolutely amazing. I’m drooling thinking about it.

Bread and Butter Course.

Homemade Sprouted Grain Bread with Orange Blossom Honey Ginseng Butter.

Nothing is better than warm fresh bread and butter and their butter is drizzled with aromatic sweet orange blossom honey tableside.

Beautiful Butter.

Looks like honeycomb, gorgeous presentation.

Lobster Coral Xiao Long Bao with Homemade Soy Sauce and Vinegar.

Another signature dish is homemade elevated xiao long bao, also known as soup dumplings. Stuffed with lobster coral, these delicate packages were delicious with their homemade soy sauce with a touch of vinegar. I could have easily eaten a few more of these!

Left: Monkfish Liver Steamed in Rice Wine with Toasted Seaweed and Chili. Top: Sea Urchin Marinated in Fermented Crab Sauce and Thinly Sliced Celtuce. Bottom: Caviar with Hand Pressed Sesame Oil with Sesame Leaf and Daikon. Right: Rice to Accompany.

A lovely medley of highly prized seafood. Creamy intense monkfish liver (the “foie gras of the sea”), briny yet subtle Sterling caviar, and supple sweet uni. Each dish was impressive and unique and even the steamed rice was cooked to perfection.

Gorgeous Whole Quail.

Barbecued Quail with Pickled Cucumber and Black Truffle Bun with Black Truffle Cream.

Hands down the BEST quail you’ll ever taste. This was one of my favorite dishes on my previous visit and it still remains a favorite. The quail is impeccably cooked and paired with the steamed truffle bun and truffle cream; it was exquisite.

Veal Short Rib with Chrysanthemum-Scallion Salad, Kohlrabi Kkakdugi, Pear Kimchi, and Tomato Meju with Crudités.

The last savory course was tender meaty veal short rib served with an assortment of Korean condiments. Each condiment had a purpose whether it was to add freshness, acidity, texture, brightness, or spice, they all made the veal short rib even more delicious.

Rib to Finish off the Savory Course.

Omija and Olive Oil.

The perfect palate cleanser and transition to the dessert courses. Omija also known as five flavored berry really does have five flavors: a little sour and tangy, sweet, salty, bitter, and spice. The refreshing sorbet was sitting in a pool of fruity olive oil.

Anniversary Cake.

Look at those HAND PIPING SKILLZ, I mean it’s immaculate. A chiffon coconut cake was gifted to us for our anniversary and while I loved it, I still was curious to see the normal dessert that other diners received.

Fresh Pluots.

I love finishing meals with fresh fruit when it’s perfectly ripe.

Malted Rice Tea and Mint Tuile.

A soothing tea was served to end the meal. The accompanying mint tuile acted as a breath freshener.

Another remarkable meal at Benu where each dish was executed with precision and flavor was always the most important factor. I’m always amazed by the intricacies of all the dishes that come together to make the tasting menu really special. While I enjoyed my experience, I think typically you’re first time dining at any restaurant is the most impactful since it’s something new and exciting. Regardless, Benu remains a top restaurant and any diner would have a gastronomic experience.

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