The Other Critics

Patty U. Deems Nojo ‘Japanese with Midwestern Values’; Bauer Recalls ‘Mad Genius’ of Alan Rondelli

Patricia Unterman reviews Nojo this week, comparing chef-owner Greg Dunmore’s ingredient-driven Japanese cooking to Charles Phan at Slanted Door, Barbara Tropp of China Moon, or Bruce Cost of Monsoon. Though she says Japanese purists may not recognize many of the dishes, she notes, “It speaks to people like me – the seasonal and local food crowd, ethnic food explorers, Hayes Valley neighbors – all of whom, in all honesty, happen to be 30 years younger than me. Who cares? I feel at home there.” She describes dishes like Chawanmushi (steamed custard with crab) as “voluptuous”. [Examiner]

Michael Bauer gets nostalgic early this morning as he wraps up his series on restaurants that have made an impact on the San Francisco dining scene. His final installment remembers the “mad cooking genius” of Alain Rondelli, who worked at SF landmark, Ernie’s, and had his own four-star restaurant in the 1990’s in a space that now houses Chapeau. Describing Rondelli as “a chef’s chef”, Bauer compares what David Kinch of Manresa is doing in the 2000’s, to what Rondelli did in his time (Kinch was also an executive chef at Ernie’s). Kinch says of Rondelli, “He was an iconoclast and visionary who really hasn’t gotten his due.” [Chron]

Meanwhile, Janny Hu files the Thursday review of The Pot Sticker in Chinatown, the newish Sichuan restaurant from chef Truman Du that blew Patty’s head off with the spiciness back in December. Hu’s favorite dishes are the mildest, including the Mouthwatering Chicken, and the Tender Fresh Fish Filet Boiled in Sichuan Pickled Mustard Broth With Tofu, which she describes as “a delicate seafood soup, with white peppercorn heat that tickles the back of your throat.” All told: two stars. [Chron]

Patty U. Deems Nojo ‘Japanese with Midwestern Values’; Bauer Recalls