Benu Corey Lee Benu
22 Hawthorne St. (Howard St.)
San Francisco, CA 94105
Chef Corey Lee offers progressive contemporary cuisine at his debut venture.
Openings: Dinner Tues.-Sat.


Benu, San Francisco, CA

Benu Restaurant Review:

Benu's chef is Corey Lee, former chef de cuisine of The French Laundry and opening sous chef at Per Se. His first solo venture is a soft, contemporary space with a serene inner courtyard, minimalist décor and room for 48 guests. An eighteen-course tasting menu is a well-paced barrage of canapé-size seasonal bites, comprising a three-hour journey into Lee's interpretation of new classics. Thousand-year-old quail egg launched our meal with a delicate flavor in a dense and tiny parcel, an optimal bite to ignite the palate. Much of Lee's cuisine is flavored with modern variants of Asian staples, including a pair of precocious soup dumplings perched on the lip of a small plate. Sommeliers are knowledgeable and attentive and, while the wine list is intriguing, the beverage pairing is the way to go, with saké, sour beer and red rice ale making memorable appearances among the wines. Plates are exceptionally diminutive, as evinced by two dessert courses: saké sherbet is more of a palate cleanser than a dessert, and fresh, dried yuba is intriguing and delightful but leaves diners wanting more. The experience is well executed and parallels those of other fine tasting menus with the expected California-meets-chef's-focused cuisine; for those collecting tasting menu credits it's well worth adding to your foodie CV. But a single visit will likely afford you all you need to fund.