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At Benu, former French Laundry chef de cuisine Corey Lee is developing a distinct language, both visual and culinary, within the conventions of haute cuisine. The luxury the room cultivates - stark, serene - is the feel of a shopping spree at Roche Bobois rather than a San Francisco Opera fundraiser. Lee's food, too, is in direct dialogue with San Francisco hip in its mix of of molecular gastronomy techniques, its farm-to-table ethos, and its blending of Asian, American, and European flavors. A la carte dishes at this SOMA restaurant, for example, include a rigatoni with oxtail, red wine, and sea cucumber, chosen for its gelatinous snap; the 12-course tasting meal segues from faux shark's fin soup to beef rib cap with matsutake mushrooms and Asian pear. Has he attained the perfection expected of four-star restaurants? Not yet. Will he? In all probability, given time to let his vision mature.