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Restaurants & Bars 4

Baboo Cafe in the Inner Sunset

MartyinSF | Aug 28, 200501:59 AM

No, not like the one on Seinfeld. :-)

It's on Irving between 17th and 18th near the library.

I'm not sure precisely when it opened, but I know it was recently. In the last three weeks I've eaten there probably about six times. Most main dishes are under 6 dollars maybe one under 8. So it's in my budget.

The food seems to be what I would call Asian fusion or eclectic.

I've liked most of what I've had. The best was the curry noodle with grilled pork loin. A very tasty curry with some but not overpowering hotness with regular wheat noodles rather than a rice noodle like a Singapore chow mei fun. Also, the curry was more complex than in a standard chow mei fun. There was very attractive diced green and red peppers and onion in the noodle mixture as well as some additional bits of pork that seemed to have been premarinated and more darkly savory than the loin on top. The pork loin on top was tender and had it's own spicing. It all worked to gether very well.

I had the seafood udon which had a very good broth and abetter seasoned fishballs than I remember. I love opening the poached egg in it to spread the yolk quickly to enrich the both rather than have it cook to hardness in place. There was some shrimp and I can't remember what else, though I ewas wishing for fresh calamari which wasn't a part of the soup.

I liked the grilled beef short ribs: sweet marinade and glaze, but cut a little too thin. It wasn't that I though the portion was stingy (given the price) but rather that it may have cooked too quickly such that there was no chance that the center be just a touch pink.

The other night, I had the garlic chicken wings appetizer which were both sweet and garlicky. I think they could have been marinated longer. I also had the shrimp and leek dumplings with a dipping sauce with fresh ginger and a few chilis. I think the filling of the dumplings could have used some additional spicing -- maybe cilantro. So they were good and fresh, but nothing to write home about.

Tonight I had the batter fried loin of pork with rice and steamed mustard greens. The pork was tender and the batter and glaze(?) was well spiced and brought out the sweetness of the pork. I liked it A LOT. The cook does one very interesting thing with the rice: it's coated with black and white sesame seeds and either fried and/or dried bits of seaweed. I'm not a big seaweed fan, but it worked.

It's quite an interesting place. They serve these iced tea drinks with chewy tapioca and fruit flavors such as lychee, passionfruit and kumquat (those are the ones I had). I'd never had these before and I find them rather compelling. I like chewing on the tapioca pearls which take on the flavor of the drink.

I like the ambiance too, very sunny and airy..sometimes they play cool jazz on the sound system (which I think is really the PC). Other times, I've seen people behind the counter doing things with the computer or putting on some Chinese youth oriented shows that looked interesting, but I don't understand Mandarin or Cantonese.

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