Top 5 Bay Area Dishes: March 2016

Per usual, I’ve been dining up a storm at many a newcomer, covered in my top openings and standout dishes of March. In addition, here are my five top tastes from three of SF’s best restaurants, one new bar menu and one pop-up dinner preview of an upcoming restaurant.

4. ‘AINA’S SPAM MUSUBI

About to open in the next couple weeks, ‘Aina is an exciting Hawaiian concept, first a beloved pop-up, and now a Dogpatch brick-and-mortar, from Hawaiian-born chefJordan Keao, wife Cheryl Keao and business partner and bar manager Jason Alonzo (stay tuned for his creative low proof cocktails).

If a recent, multi-course preview dinner is any indication, this restaurant is going to be special. Inspired interpretations of Hawaiian classics like poke, loco moco and lomi lomi salmon take the rich cuisine of Hawaii into fresh territory: refined but maintaining that chill aloha spirit. A favorite course is hard to narrow down.

It might be the spam musubi, Keao’s own spam recipe wrapped in a red butter leaf with kimchi, rice, unagi sauce and egg yolk furikake, rather like a deconstructed musubi. But I also loved his Portuguese bean cassoulet: heartwarming yet gourmet, laden with house Portuguese sausage, beans, green garlic, crispy tripe, beet greens and pickled shallots.