East Meets West at E&O Asian Kitchen
At the recently redesigned, renovated, and renamed E&O Asian Kitchen everything seems to contribute to an exceptionally harmonious dining experience.
The restaurant’s ambiance is elegantly dark, with minimalist bamboo-shaped vertical lights backing the bar and yielding just enough luminosity to the candlelit dining area to provide a cozy intimate feel. Attentive and efficient servers, clad in black, are happy to provide suggestions, but judging from the few items I’ve tried at E & O, you cannot go wrong with anything from the menu.
The kitchen, led by Chef Sharon Nahm in collaboration with Arnold Eric Wong, perfected the art of modern Asian cuisine, so every dish here is an inspired little masterpiece.
Starting your meal with the restaurant’s signature cocktails created by lead bartender Carlos Yturria is a no-brainer, since there are wonderful libations on offer for every taste.
The simple-sounding Beefeater Gin, sea beans, and lime Sea Witch caught my imagination, and it was light, peridot-green and wickedly refreshing – with slim salty crunchy sea beans mocking seaweed in a tidal wave.
East Meets West, made with Wild Turkey bourbon, lemongrass, and soda, was pale pink, almost beige, and subtly creamy on the palate.
Other notable cocktails include the Gazebo, made with Hangar vodka, pineapple, basil and lemon, and the Concubine, with gin, St. Germain, house-made orgeat and lime – but hey, a girl can try only so many drinks in one sitting.
The enhanced dinner menu offers scrumptious starters, and among them are humble pickle jars. A daily selection of house-made pickles should never be overlooked. I tried all four specials of the day, and couldn’t decide which were the best – crunchy rainbow carrots with coriander, chewy shiitake with sea beans, bright yellow lemon cucumbers, or crimson li hing mui mangoes.
Oxtail dumplings from the short but enticing dumpling menu were served with black beans, carrots, and five-spice nage, and were very hard to share.
Asian “gnocchi” from the rice and noodles menu are short-cut on bias rice sticks generously interspersed with chunks of beef filet, cabbage, chili flakes, and topped with spicy soy sauce.
Another dish from the same menu section is a wonderfully satisfying Japanese “bop” – a little platform of crispy rice holding a construction of pickles, spinach, chili, and marinated plum crowned by a soft-fried fresh egg.
Seafood choices include a sweetly tender wood-roasted char siu black cod, garnished with sautéed pea tendrils, which makes for a light-yet-filling dish.
Among meat and poultry offerings there is a moderately spicy black pepper shaking beef, smothered with red onions, tomatoes, chili, and watercress.
E & O Asian Kitchen is located at 314 Sutter Street in San Francisco. For more information visit their website.