Get SF Weekly Newsletters

Friday, August 12, 2016

Eat This: the Pork Bowl at Dabba

Posted By on Fri, Aug 12, 2016 at 2:15 PM

click to enlarge Dabba's pork bowl - PETER LAWRENCE KANE
  • Peter Lawrence Kane
  • Dabba's pork bowl
There's something slightly suspicious about the category "fast-casual." Lunch is so rushed, and it's easy to settle for an unsatisfactory meal just to get something in your stomach, that a few buzzwords can lure us in. Fast-casual is the food equivalent of "athleisure," which basically consists of ugly clothes that are too functional too dismiss. (And if everybody else is wearing them, too, who will judge you?)

At its worst, fast-casual can be bloodless and corporatized, and leave you feeling like you got hoodwinked into paying a premium for a glorified Subway foot-long made with the world's palest tomato. But at its best, it's tasty, nutritious, and convenient. Dabba, the SoMa brick-and-mortar concept that evolved out of a food truck dedicated to "ethnic confusions" doesn't feel like anyone convened a focus group to determine what's trendy with the millennials. Rather, it derives from Avatar's, the Indian restaurant in Sausalito where the recipes were never written down.

Here, things are equal parts Mexican, Caribbean, and Indian. And Dabba's Pork Bowl — as well as the Pork Burrito — is unquestionably excellent, playfully messing with authenticity to yield strong flavors with a bit of originality.

Chef Walter Abrams has done stints at The French Laundry and at Spruce, as well as at Daniel Boulud's Cafe Boulud in Palm Beach, and the menu reflects his cosmopolitan approach. Dabba's menu is simple overall, essentially permutations of chicken, pork, lamb, and veggie (as bowls, burritos, and three-to-an-order tacos). But the $13 pork bowl isn't an industrial sous-vide preparation shipped from a centralized distribution center; it's braised for 12-hours in a Caribbean jerk, then plated — or bowled, as it were — with pickles, wilted greens, and yogurt, along with paratha, the Northern Indian flatbread. Get it spicy.

While the burrito was sheathed in foil to the point of suffocation — it does get a little frustrating to tear pieces off without ever seeming to unwrap it — it's equally delicious, a perfect balance of rice, meat, and zing. I like a ton of cilantro, and this sauce is tangy and pungent. At $11, it's arguably a shade costly as burritos go — although about what you'd pay for a Sushrrito around the block on New Montgomery — but the quality of the pork is undeniable and hey, there's real silverware.

OK, fast-casual, you win this round.

Dabba71 Stevenson St., 415-236-3984
  • Pin It

Tags: ,

About The Author

Peter Lawrence Kane

Bio:
Peter Lawrence Kane is SF Weekly's Arts Editor. He has lived in San Francisco since 2008 and is two-thirds the way toward his goal of visiting all 59 national parks.

Comments


Comments are closed.

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed

Like us on Facebook

Slideshows

  • clipping at Brava Theater Sept. 11
    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"