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Food & Drink

This bowl of wagyu beef udon might have the city’s most exquisite Japanese noodles 

A bowl of beef udon with tempura, garnished with green onions and red spices.
Katsu + Kombu's Niku beef udon features dashi-braised thin sliced Wagyu beef. | Source: Morgan Ellis/The Standard

This is All Things Consumed, a column by The Standard’s eater-at-large, Omar Mamoon, featuring three great dishes he’s eaten, one thing he’s drunk and one other food product he’s stoked on.

Niku beef udon at Katsuo + Kombu

I love a place with a limited menu focused on just one thing. At Katsuo + Kombu, the small udon shop from Takashi Saito and Jiro Lin that opened last summer on Divisadero Street, noodles are the name of the game. This casual, counter-service spot specializes in Fukuoka-style udon, which is a bit thinner and softer than what you’ll find at places like Udon Mugizo in Japantown. Made in-house daily with the help of a special machine imported from Japan, they’re boiled to order and have a texture unlike any other noodle I’ve had in the Bay Area. They’re silky and supple, yet they maintain their shape and integrity when slurping.

A bowl of beef udon with sliced green onions and a dollop of ginger on top.
At Divisadero Street's Katsuo + Kombu, the silky noodles in the Niku beef udon are unlike those found in other bowls around town. | Source: Morgan Ellis/The Standard

All sorts of versions with various toppings show up on this menu. I like to get the niku, which features a generous helping of thinly shaved wagyu beef braised in a piping hot, savory-sweet dashi broth, a smattering of thinly sliced scallions, a dab of both freshly grated ginger and spicy yuzu kosho (a Japanese condiment made with fermented chili), crispy strips of burdock root, tempura and plenty of those slippery noodles. I like the interplay of the various textures and the comfort of a steamy bowl of noodle soup on a cold San Francisco night. 

💰 $20
📍 559 Divisadero St., San Francisco

Snails at Snail Bar

There are certain dishes at Bay Area restaurants that have become iconic over the years, menu mainstays that never go out of style and always deliver on deliciousness, like the famed roast chicken at Zuni or a Mission burrito at La Taqueria. The snails at Snail Bar, the restaurant disguised as a natural wine bar and bottle shop by the talented chef Andres Giraldo Florez in Oakland’s Temescal neighborhood, comprise another of those dishes. 

Prior to opening Snail Bar in June 2021, Florez worked in fine-dining restaurants around the world like the Michelin-starred Saison in San Francisco and Mugaritz just outside San Sebastian, Spain. He brings the same attention to detail and finesse but in a much more casual setting at his spot on Shattuck. 

A plate of escargot with garlic butter, slices of rustic bread, and an empty plate on a wooden table.
Why wouldn't Snail Bar offer snails? Served in portions of six, they come with in butter spiked with garlic confit and cashew miso, plus a single slice of kumquat. | Source: Omar Mamoon for The Standard

The menu changes often and with the seasons–order anything and everything that calls your name, but do not miss the menu mainstays: crudité with a creamy umami dip, the best damn ham-and-cheese sandwich and the aforementioned signature snails. Six tiger-striped gastropods come in each order, piped with a mixture of butter spiked with garlic confit and cashew miso before being blasted in the oven until bubbling. They’re then given a single slice of kumquat that helps lighten and lift the rich dish. Use the accompanying seeded levain bread to dip into the buttery, oozy goodness and pair with a champagne or nicely effervescent pét-nat. 

💰 $23
📍 4935 Shattuck Ave., Oakland

Meatballs at Tartine Manufactory 

Tartine Manufactory reintroduced dinner service last month for the first time since the pandemic, and I was excited to check it out, because the menu is focused on my one true love in life: pizza. As expected from the legendary bakery, the pies are solid: They’re made from Tartine’s sourdough starter and undergo a two-day cold fermentation that helps create an easily digestible, light and crispy crust. You can crush five or six slices from the 14-inch pie, no problem. But what surprised me the most was the meatball appetizer, which was unexpectedly and unreasonably delicious. 

A baked dish topped with cheese and herbs, in tomato sauce, presented in a round bowl with a fork.
The secret ingredient in Tartine Manufactory's meatballs is gelatinized tomato water, which helps boost texture and flavor. | Source: Omar Mamoon for The Standard

You might think a meatball is just a meatball, but these were something else—soft and juicy, with a nice bite. They’re made from a mixture of pork, beef and, for a little extra fat, pancetta, plus salt, parmesan, egg yolk, dry herbs and—of course—buttermilk-soaked Tartine sourdough breadcrumbs. The secret ingredient is gelatinized tomato water, which helps boost texture and flavor. This technique was developed by chef Brian Bertelsen, who spent years cooking in Shanghai and borrowed the idea from xiao long bao soup dumplings, which usually incorporate gelatinized meat stock. Genius. 

💰 $15
📍 595 Alabama St., San Francisco

A bottle I’m loving

Sometimes, I just want something easy-drinking that doesn’t break the bank, and the Črnko Jareninčan is it. I recently enjoyed a glass of this Slovenian white wine at Fool’s Errand, the tiny, dark craft beer and wine bar on Divisadero Street. It’s a blend of riesling, chardonnay and sauvignon blanc. It’s light, bright and acidic but balanced, and only $13 for a glass. If you go during happy hour (2-6 p.m. weekdays), it’s $9/glass, and you get free popcorn. Better yet: If you just get the bottle—a 1-liter big boy—during happy hour, they’ll throw in a delicious mortadella sandwich. I love this little bar so much.

🍷 Črnko Jareninčan
📍 639A Divisadero St., San Francisco

And one more thing I'm stoked on: Laudemio olive oil

I have two olive oils at home: one to cook with, and one to finish with. This is the latter. I top everything I can with this Tuscan olive oil from Laudemio Frescobaldi, from pastas to roasted meats to blanched asparagus. The emerald green, extra virgin olive oil smells grassy on the nose and has a slight bitterness in the finish but tastes balanced, with a rich, round, silky texture. This is the good stuff and will make all your food taste like it came from a restaurant (because it’s what many kitchens use). Find it for $39.99 for a 16.9-ounce bottle at Bi-Rite, 3639 18th St., San Francisco.

Omar Mamoon is a San Francisco-based writer and cookie dough professional. Find him on Instagram.