the other critics

Kauffman Keeps It Real at Chabaa Thai; Bauer Goes Lokal; Reidinger Coughs at Cigar Bar

The Thai side of the Chabaa Thai menu.

The Thai side of the Chabaa Thai menu.

Jonathan Kauffman once again proves his ethnic food street cred by ordering solely off the Thai-language menu at Chabaa Thai in the Outer Sunset, and discovering some great dishes from the Isaan region of Thailand, home to many ethnic Laotians. (He goes so far as to enlist the help of Chez Pim in translating the menu into English.) He starts with the pork neck, whose meat he calls "bouncy" and describes as "the midpoint between hanger steak and a grapefruit segment, releasing a cascade of juices with each bite." He moves on to a delicious-sounding, not often seen orange curry, "fried fish, poached shrimp, and squares of an omelette threaded with cha om, or acacia, an herb so sulfuric when raw that it is rumored to stun birds, though, like raw onions, its flavor transubstantiates into something deep and vegetal when cooked." [SF Weekly]

Michael Bauer meanwhile headed up to Sonoma for his Sunday review, to Lokal, the "Eastern European soul food" restaurant and beer garden that Grub Street first alerted you to back in March. He writes that "the six appetizers and eight main courses are filled with sausage and were consistently good," and he compliments in particular a grouper special which he says "harked back to [chef Rick] Edge's days at Plumpjack [Café in Squaw Valley]." Don't bother, though, with the chicken paprikash. [Chron]

And finally, Paul Reidinger seems to go against his will and delicate nature to visit Cigar Bar and Grill at Jackson Square, where despite hating the smell of cigar smoke he gets all Freudian and saucy talking about "the spectacle of strapping 25-year-old lads (many with their Yahoo ID cards dangling from their belts) manfully chomping on their rolled cylinders amid swirling wreaths of smoke." (Once again Paul, you make us blush, especially when you wonder aloud of they "ever play strip poker.") He calls most of the tapas-y food "splendid," calling out the guacamole and the crispy polenta batons in particular. But mostly it's all about the boys and their oral fixations. [SFBG]

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