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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Pork Belly from The Alembic

Posted By on Wed, May 5, 2010 at 12:14 PM

click to enlarge So much better than jalapeño poppers and chicken quesadillas. - JONATHAN KAUFFMAN
  • Jonathan Kauffman
  • So much better than jalapeño poppers and chicken quesadillas.

As a daily windup to the Weekly's Best of S.F. 2010 on May 19, we've teased out 92 of our favorite local dishes that taste like here. All the tasty details after the jump.

Number 10: Pork Belly with Quince Paste and Pickled Mustard Seeds from The Alembic

Pork belly is this decade's foie gras. Because it's so rich, it can be matched by sweet and tart flavors of almost overwhelming intensity, and the id appeal of the cut inspires cooks to wallow in high-low excess. At this point, we've been overexposed to pork belly sliders and deep-fried pork belly, which is why we love The Alembic's restrained, even delicate, treatment of the cut.

The Alembic is not to everyone's tastes: too loud/too hipster/too much of a bar/too fancy/ew, bone marrow? But, man, is chef Ted Fleury putting out some of the most unabashedly creative food in this city ― jerk-spiced grilled duck hearts, seared albacore sliders with veal bacon, pickled quail eggs.

Fleury braises his pork belly long and slow, so it comes out as pale and mild as milk-fed veal. Then, just before service, he fries just its top fatty layer, which forms an evenly brown, paper-thin crust. Garlicky braised escarole and marble-sized turnips anchor the dish in late spring. The drama of the dish comes from the the way the cubes of sweet quince paste melt on the tongue and the clusters of pickled mustard seeds pop and flash like a string of Chinese fireworks. At $15, the dish is priced 30 to 50 percent less than most restaurants would charge for it, and we've passed The Alembic on a Sunday night to see the sandwich board outside advertise a ridiculously cheap $35 three-course prix-fixe dinner. Cocktails extra, of course.

The Alembic 1725 Haight (at Cole), 666-0822

Hungry for more? Click on the links in our countdown so far:

No. 92: Cracked Half Dungeness from Swan Oyster Depot
No. 91: Pastrami Sandwich from Orson

No. 90: Coconut Bun from Out the Door on Bush
No. 89: Brown Sugar-Black Pepper Biscuits from Little Skillet
No. 88: Spit-Roasted Porchetta Sandwich from Il Cane Rosso
No. 87: Indian Pizza from Zante
No. 86: Tamales from All-Star
No. 85: Chilaquiles from Nopalito
No. 84: Poc Chuc from Poc-Chuc
No. 83: Chocolate Beignet from Arlequin Cafe
No. 82: Scallop Crêpe from Ti Couz
No. 81: Gin and Tonic from Pizzaiolo/Boot and Shoe Service
No. 80: Quesadilla from Rico Pan
No. 79: Turkey Kati Rolls from Kasa
No. 78: Emperor's Pancake from Suppenküche
No. 77: Lasagna from Zuppa
No. 76: Chicharrones from 4505 Meats
No. 75: Langka Ice Cream from Mitchell's
No. 74: Bacon Potato Chips from Who's Your Daddy
No. 73: Lamb Dumplings from Kingdom of Dumpling
No. 72: Chile-Braised Carnitas Sandwich from Bento 415
No. 71: Chili from Mission Burger
No. 70: Croissants from La Farine
No. 69: Xiu Mai Banh Mi from Saigon Sandwich
No. 68: Creme Brulee from Sweet.
No. 67: Limon Cebiche from Limon
No. 66: Chicken and Waffles from Brown Sugar Kitchen
No. 65: Brioche Bread Pudding from Tartine Bakery
No. 64: Turkish Salad from Old Jerusalem
No. 63: Ribs from Bruno's
No. 62: Prupisceddu in Umidu (Stewed Octopus) from La Ciccia
No. 61: Hot and Spicy Beef Jerky from Marin Sun Farms
No. 60: Pozole from Chilango
No. 59: Lobster Roll from Sam's ChowderMobile
No. 58: Dry-Fried Chicken Wings from San Tung
No. 57: John Campbell's Scones from Lovejoy's Tea Room
No. 56: Prahok from Angkor Borei
No. 55: The Garden-Fresh Pie from Pizzetta 211
No. 54: Pata Negra Ham from Contigo
No. 53: Stone Bowl Bibimbap at Han Il Kwan
No. 52: Green Papaya Salad from Green Papaya Deli
No. 51: Egg Puffs from Shanghai Dumpling King
No. 50: Cactus Tortillas from La Palma
No 49: Thai Barbecue Chicken from Manivanh
No. 48: Salt and Pepper Crab from R&G Lounge
No. 47: Aztec Chocolate Cupcakes from Mission Minis
No. 46: Octopus Tostada from Mariscos La Costa
No. 45: Pan con Chicharron from El Perol
No. 44: Burmese Chicken-Noodle Soup at Yamo
No. 43: Roast Duck from Cheung Hing
No. 42: Rotisserie Bird from Goood Frickin' Chicken
No. 41: Franklin's Teleme Cheese
No. 40: Pho Dac Biet from Turtle Tower
No. 39: Sea Salted Dark Chocolate Caramels from Hooker's
No. 38: Dottie's Famous Pancakes from Dottie's True Blue Cafe
No. 37: XXX Chocolate Cake from Baker and Banker
No. 36: Carnitas Burrito from La Taqueria
No. 35: Little Fried Fish from Nopa
No. 34: Marlowe's Burger
No. 33: Crispy Pata from Patio Filipino
No. 32: Jam Thumbprints from Piccino Coffee Bar
No. 31: Slow-Cooked Egg from Commis
No. 30: Pulled Lamb Sandwich from Wexler's
No. 29: Cornmeal-Cherry-Rosemary Doughnut from Dynamo
No. 28: The Rising Sun from 15 Romolo
No. 27: The Cholle Bhature from Vik's Chaat Corner
No. 26: Plant Burger from The Plant Café Organic
No. 25: Stuffed Pasta from Flour + Water
No. 24: Potato Vareniki from Katia's Russian Tea Room
No. 23: Tokyo Ramen from Suzu Noodle House
No. 22: Margherita Pizza from Tony's Pizza Napoletana
No. 21: PB&J from Mission Street Food
No. 20: Sam's Sundae from Bi-Rite Creamery
No. 19: Timballo di Maccheroni from Quince
No. 18: New Orleans Iced Coffee from Blue Bottle
No. 17: Xiao Long Bao at Yank Sing
No. 16: Tacos from Taqueria Vallarta
No. 15: Caribeño Cocktail at Smuggler's Cove
No. 14: House-Cured Anchovies at Zuni Cafe
No. 13: Rabbit Pot Pie from Mission Beach Cafe
No. 12: Cappuccino It's-It
No. 11: Death & Taxes from Moonlight Brewing

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Jonathan Kauffman

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