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This husband-and-wife spot has grown up (and out) since it was our Best New Restaurant in America in 2012. The concept is still magical: Custom dim sum carts—now a fine-dining trend around the country—are wheeled around the room, delivering “provisions,” beautiful bites of modern California cuisine with a Japanese accent, such as guinea hen dumplings in broth, potato-trout fritters with mushroom “ranch,” and garlic bread with burrata. Order any and all pancakes, such as sourdough with ricotta, sauerkraut, and Pecorino, and always get the “state bird,” a.k.a. fried quail. Desserts are straightforward and lovely; the “world peace” shot—a sip of peanut-muscovado milk—is the most perfect sweet we’ve tried in ages. At $2 a shot, everyone should have at least one. (Get the recipe here.) The line to get in can still stretch from 30 minutes to an hour—techies have built bots to snap up the online reservations—but once inside, the mood is casual and congenial, with lots of sudden excited pointing as the cart is wheeled down the aisle between the long tables. It’s not a place to linger—that would be their newer family-style spot next door, The Progress.
PRO TIP: Online reservations open 60 days ahead; cancellations are posted as they happen, so flexibility helps. If you’re flying standby, the best nights for walk-ins tend to be Monday through Wednesday, with 9 p.m. seeming to be a magic time. Or just put your name in and go look through the selection at nearby Japanese bookstore Kinokuniya.
THE DETAILS: Open Sunday through Thursday, 5:30–10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 5:30–11 p.m.
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