Monday, February 26, 2007

poleng lounge

from left: lumpia shanghai, beef tenderloin with bone marrow, burma samosa at the poleng lounge in san franciscoDinner last night was at the very chill Poleng Lounge. The Poleng Lounge is a restaurant / tea bar / nightclub on Fulton at Masonic, near USF and on the western edge of the improving NoPa neighborhood. It is opened last year, and it received 3 stars from Michael Bauer and a spot on his 10 best of 2006 list. He writes that Poleng Lounge:

is one of the freshest and most interesting restaurants to open in the Bay Area in some time. It could easily become my casual hangout simply because of the interesting Asian street food created by chef Timothy Luym. But the atmosphere is also terrific, attracting a young and wildly diverse crowd. And the staff is genuinely friendly and enthusiastic.
Poleng Lounge is Burmese influenced with menu items not dissimilar to (but less expensive than) what you might find at Straits Café. Poleng Lounge has two rooms: the Temple Room in back with room for large parties and a small stage for evening entertainment (see schedule); and, the Fireside Lounge in front (also with its own sound system). We dined at a small, low table in the center of the Fireside Lounge while seated on sofas and small stools, so the attentive staff had to pace our little dishes.

We started with sweet potato fries serverd with banana catsup ($3) and crispy roti ($1.50). We followed this with the Lumpia Shanghai (mini egg rolls filled with shrimp and pork, $6) and Burma Samosas (curry roasted potatoes and peas with a sweet tamarind chutney, $6.50).

Next up - garlic noodles with crab ($10). I had just been back to Thanh Long so their very buttery, rich version was still in mind. At Poleng Lounge, the flavor is quite a bit spicier and much less garlicy. Still yummy however. Then we had the highlight of the meal: poached bone marrow ($11). It is served with cubes of beef tenderloin, fried onions and a pineapple salsa, but the standout is the delicious, fatty marrow and the buttery rectangles of toast.

After the Beef Salpicao we had the Golden Gindara ($12), black cod in miso-mirin sauce with sesame spinach. It was a perfect transition to the desert that Joy, our waitress, brought when she overheard that we were celebrating my birthday. Coconut is not one of my favorite things, but both the bread pudding with fresh shaved coconut and the unusual coconut milk tapioca with basil seeds were delicious. Great company, tasty food and a very reasonable prices – I am looking forward to my next trip to the Poleng Lounge.

Poleng Lounge: 1751 Fulton, San Francisco, CA (415) 441-1710

from left: black cod in miso, bread pudding with coconut tapioca