Right next to Union Square, E&O calls itself a “modern Asian restaurant,” carrying Korean, Indonesian, and Chinese influences in their regular Californian Asian menu.
That means in addition to lamb naan and steamed duck buns, you can get a cheeseburger or New York steak should that tickle your fancy. However, in addition to this inter-continental selection, E&O has special Lunar New Year dishes, available through Feb. 8 which we sampled.
Headed by executive Sharon Nahm, E&O has a ridiculous amount of private space for corporate gatherings and the like — the kind of groups you’d find around Union Square to begin with.
It also has a bar with some really stellar cocktails that are pretty to look at and even better to drink. Their Japanese Maple “Old Fashioned” ($13) uses Suntory Toki Whiskey with housemade maple bitters and reduced sake syrup for a tasty twist on the classic. It’s topped with a lone maple leaf and orange peel — a stylish drink, much like the rest of E&O’s cocktail menu. Their Jaded Buddha ($13) comes with crushed ice and thai basil leaves sprouting from the rim, and the Sangri-la ($14) looks like a pink fishbowl adorned with a slice of grapefruit and edible flowers. (Of the two, the Jaded Buddha is a favorite: Matcha and lime juice round out Hanger One’s Buddha’s Hand Citron vodka for an incredibly smooth drink.)
Of course, there’s also their special ode to Frank Sinatra off the special Lunar New Year menu, here only for a limited time through Feb. 8. The E&Ol’ Blue Eyes ($13) contains Suntory Roku japanese gin, dry sake, cointreau, and “just a whisper of blue curacao.” It’s topped with bleu cheese stuffed olives, and is a strong drink with a light aroma from its orange zest.
It’s the only cocktail from the E&O Lunar New Year menu, which carries a small selection of four smaller and larger plates, including a prosperity salad ($15), Dungeness crab and pork siu mai dumplings ($16), long life noodles ($18). Of the three we tried, the prosperity salad was the clear winner — a beautiful combination of thinly sliced bell peppers, kelp noodles, crispy beets, and tangerine slices, all tossed in a sweet plum-soy vinaigrette. The siu mai were a close runner up, though they felt a little bit more like crab cakes stuffed in dumpling wrappers due to its slightly drier texture.
The Lunar New Year menu only lasts for so long, but if you’re looking to try things off their permanent selections, go for the steamed duck buns ($16), the shaking beef ($28), and the warm ginger spiced cookies ($9). While I wish the steamed duck buns had more crispy duck skin to lend more fat and bite, they’re still packing nearly all of the flavor you’d expect from duck buns. The shaking beef isn’t very powerful with its seasoning, but it shines through its ingredients: chunks of tender filet mignon are cooked in a hot wok with red onions, chilies, and tomatoes that are bursting to the touch and melting.
Don’t be deceived by how simple E&O’s warm ginger spiced cookies may appear. They’re the kind of treats that are perfect for staying inside on cold weather days, which is convenient as E&O offers these to go. Warm and soft in the center, crispier on the edges, and decorated with small pieces of candied ginger, these cookies are not too sweet, and just spicy enough.
E&O Kitchen and Bar, 314 Sutter St.
Grace Li covers arts, culture, and food for SF Weekly. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.