3 stars for Pan-Asian eats at Shokudo in Buena Vista

 

3 stars for Pan-Asian eats at Shokudo in Buena Vista

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Victoria Pesce Elliott

My then-fiancé and I loved to camp out at World Resource Cafe on Lincoln Road in the ’90s. An order of red Thai curry, pad Thai and a few glass of cheap, over-chilled white wine would keep us hanging out for hours. The check was usually less than 50 bucks. Life was good. World Resource got even better when veteran restaurateurs Lilly and Tony Takarada took it over, and when it left South Beach, loyal fans wailed. Their daughter, Yoko Takarada, who is mourning the loss of her parents (they died two weeks apart in the spring) is keeping up the family tradition in Buena Vista under a new name, Shokudo by World Resource Cafe.

Ambience: Takarada has transformed the former bodega space into a simple, roomy white and gray dining room that is at once elegant and casual, with white orchids and thick, black cloth napkins gracing each white marble table. Outside, sweet jasmine blooms along the vine-lined wall that leads to garden tables and another dining room.

The tightly edited menu is pan-Asian with dishes from Korea, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Japan and China. The name means something like, “The journey of food,” Yoko Takarada explains. “I find it important to find comfort in the things you know or grew up with.” Executive chef Armando Litiatco cooked at Boulevard in his native San Francisco and at Daniel Boulud’s Restaurant Daniel in New York before being lured here by the Takarada clan. The culinary team is on view in the vibrant kitchen, as are the giggling pair of Spanish-speaking chefs behind the sushi bar who seem to know their stuff.

What Worked

  • Spicy kimchi
  • Slippery spinach
  • Salty, pin-size, dried anchovies as chewy as jerky
  • Pho with a complex, beef broth and super fresh toppings of bean sprouts, chiles, holy basil and mint 
  • House-made curry potato and turkey dumplings
  • Pork gyoza
  • Addictive buns with layers of flavors and textures
  • Bibimbap with a skillfully fried egg, bean sprouts, spinach, shiitake mushrooms, hearty rice and noodles
  • Fresh fish in sushi rolls
  • A serviceable wine list High-end, unfiltered sakes like Kamoizumi Nigori Ginjo and Tedorigawa Yamahai Daiginjo
  • A personable staff that makes diners feel at home
  • A miraculously airy flourless chocolate cake draped in a dark chocolate sauce with a hint of cardamom and crushed macadamia nuts

 

What Didn't Work

  • Julienned green peppers that look like oddly conjoined triplets
  • Chicken chunks strung together like sausage links

 

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