Restaurants & Bars

Juban and Tango Gelato, Japantown/Fillmore, SF

Limster | May 5, 200201:54 AM    

Low End Theory and I did some table grilling at Juban tonight and were very pleased.

To maximize the range of tastes, we each ordered a combo dinner with different items. Each combo dinner also comes with a dish of cold salads (sprouts with sesame oil, a dab of spinach and sharp cold dakon pickles), an egg drop soup with a nice and light egg flavor but slightly too salty and a large bowl of rice, in addition to the stuff we were grilling. Also present was a lovely miso-based dipping sauce for the grilled food.

We cleaned out the seafood combo first. Plump scallops and prawns, as well as delicisou marinated squid. Fresh and clean flavors reflect quality ingredients. A wedge of lemon is provided for a touch of tang.

Next was an array of meats. Thin slices of beef tongue, pork ribs, good marinated beef short ribs and cubes of prime fillet mignon. All tender and fairly succulent. Excellent cuts with good marble. The marinates were subtle and gave each meat a different personality. We liked the flet mignon cubes a lot for the interesting flavors from the marinate.

Then we strolled up to Tango Gelato on Fillmore and ate 14 of the 31 flavors. (I'll only describe the ones we loved.) I'm aiming to the taste the remaining 17 on Joel's Victorians 'n' Chow tour. I asked, and they mentioned that the riso (rice) flavor might be available soon. I found the texture much softer than the Florentine gelati; apparently this is a characteristic of the Argentinian rendition, according to a chron writeup pasted outside. The flavors were fairly intense, although there were a few that could have been richer and more concentrated. Gelati should not be subtle in my book.

My personal favorite was the marron glace because I have a weakness for chestnuts, plus it's uncommon here in dishes and desserts. Sweet with a rich and lightly starchy texture as well as bits of chestnut. A wonderful comfort.

The lemon sorbetto was perfect -- it was deep dreamy lemon in flavor and fragrance. But unlike lesser lemon sorbettos, there was hardly any harsh acidic bite to it. Great balance, an act worthy of good winemaking.

How could we not try the dulce de leche. This one's a keeper -- loved the sweet caramel milkiness. The milky flavor is quite unique in my tastings of this flavor -- it brings up delightful images of condensed milk. One of the best of its kind.

I was very fond of the pistacchio -- deep, nutty and earthy, and unlike most pistacchio ice creams that present the lighter side of the nut.

Torroncino was also excellent with caramelized nuts.

The gianduia (hazelnut and chocolate) was lovely and the rich chewy texture was a definite pleasure.

Coconut is creamy and intense, with shreds of dried coconut. Compares very well with the excellent version at Marco Polo that uses fresh coconut flesh.

Good stuff on the whole. "I'll be back." (Austrian accent optional.)

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