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100 short reviews, Louie's California Chinese, Maki


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100 short reviews, Louie's California Chinese, Maki

Paul H | Jul 29, 2003 06:49 PM

Louie's California Chinese Cuisine - Located across from the Holiday Inn, and just down the street from Portsmouth Square, Louie’s is off the beaten path in a building that used to house a Japanese restaurant. A Louie’s experience takes a little getting used to. Although the standard Cantonese restaurant fish tanks greet you, the space is broken up like a split-level ranch house, with a balcony and basement next to the center section on street level. The center section is broken into a number of banquet rooms separated by shoji screens (old Japanese restaurant, remember?). Because of the stairs there aren’t any carts. If you come here for dim sum, you have to order off of the menu, instead of inspecting the carts that go by. And if all of that isn’t strange enough, here is a place that has "Louie’s California" in its name, and it is one of the three or four best Chinese restaurants in San Francisco. Perhaps the food at Koi Palace is a bit better, but Louie’s isn’t as crowded as a zoo, and the staff tries to make you happy. Some places (which shall remain nameless) are resting on their laurels, but Louie’s is new and doesn’t have enough laurels yet for even a catnap. I had some Fried Rice here (seasoned with dried scallops and ginger juice) that is one of the best dishes I’ve ever had in a Chinese restaurant. The sautéed vegetables here are stir fried with garlic and served al dente. I’ve also had outstanding E-Fu noodles, and some superb fried whole soft-shell crab. I think it would be hard to go wrong here no matter what you order. The staff is professional and eager to please. Although they serve serious Chinese food, they aren’t condescending, and they want to help any round eyes that haven’t quite got the hang of Chinese food yet. Highly Recommended

Maki - Small, elegant, and approaching perfection like a Faberge Egg or a tiny intricately carved wooden box, Maki serves authentic and delicious Japanese cuisine - no California Rolls here! The official menu is limited, but the list of daily specials is always large, so be certain to ask. They have a good selection of high quality cold sake (served in a small 175mm decanter with an ice-filled insert and decorated with an orchid blossom) and the luxurious lacquer-ware and other implements will make you feel like a Japanese Emperor. Try the Wappa-meshi dishes (like a simple steamed Chirashi) and the savory custard (chawan mushi) - even the miso soup is special (white miso, high quality ingredients, and unlike any miso soup you’ve had before). Not cheap, but absolutely worth every penny. Highly recommended


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