It’s all about the sauces at this Asian-fusion spot run by chef Johnny Chu. Locals want him to bottle it, but so far here is the only place to taste the binding agents in various veggie, meat, or tofu combos including the Broccoli Island (brown garlic sauce), Spicy Saigon (spicy basil), and Healthy Asian (light garlic). Chu also opened an adjacent bar (appropriately named nextDOOR) with a second-floor DJ booth. Its open-air patio draws techno and hip-hop music fans and anyone waiting for a table. The trademark (along with an enormous metal Buddha face that separates the restaurant and bar) is a giant, mushroom-shape structure that gets packed with bottles and glasses during business hours and serves as the outdoor bar.
Tip: Avoid coming on a First Friday, when people crowd the city’s monthly art walk. If you’re determined to get in on a busy night, at least you can relax next door with a cocktail.
Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.