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Friday, May 11, 2012

Number 2: Steamed Sea Bass with Lime and Chile From Lers Ros

Posted By on Fri, May 11, 2012 at 11:00 AM

Lers Ros' steamed sea bass with chile and lime. - KIMBERLY SANDIE
  • Kimberly Sandie
  • Lers Ros' steamed sea bass with chile and lime.

SFoodie's countdown of our favorite 50 things to eat and drink, 2012 edition


Tom Silargorn has a flair for the dramatic. His soups are all served in ringed Mongolian hot pots, blue flames and sparks shooting up through the tube at their center; every day you order tom kha gai feels like July 4. And his best seafood dish, the steamed sea bass with chile and lime (pla kra pong nuang manow, arrives in an elevated chafing dish shaped like a fish. Flames underneath keep the milky broth the fish floats in bubbling, its perfume smelled halfway across the room.

And what a perfume! The description "chile and lime" sounds almost austere, but the profusion of herbs covering the surface of the fish give a better indication of its baroque flavor. Thick slices of garlic, green onions, and flecks of minced shallots. Skinny birds-eye chiles in red and green. Chinese celery stalks, looking more like flower stems than their Western counterpart, and their toothy leaves. Underneath the herbs, of course, can be sensed the rumbling funk of fish sauce.

The slicing burn of the red and green chiles, whetted by the lime, has the power to wound. Sip the broth too quickly, and you'll find yourself sputtering and hacking, wishing that you had some way to fan your sinuses. But the fish, from cheek to tail, is so tender, so delicate, that you forgive the dish the pain it causes, and each bite of celery offers a cool, fleeting solace. High drama, indeed.

Lers Ros: 730 Larkin (at Ellis), 931-6917; and 307 Hayes (at Gough), 874-9661;

Other favorites in this series:

4. Falafel from Sunrise Deli
5. Smitten's chocolate ice cream
6. Josey Baker's black pepper-parmesan loaf
7. Hakka Restaurant's stuffed tofu
8: Al pastor burrito from Taqueria La Alteña
9: Pizza focaccia from Liguria Bakery
10: Boxing Room's dirty rice
11: Wing Wingschicken salad biscuit
12: Pamonha de sal from Pamonha's
13: Kasa Indian Truck's gobi aloo kati roll
14: Delfina's trippa alla fiorentina
15: Truffled tater tots from Leatherneck Steakhouse
16: Baia Pasta's durum-wheat pastas
17: Z&Y's flaming fish with chile oil
18: Auntie April's fried catfish
19: None but the Brave from Heaven's Dog
20: Saha's vegan kibbeh
21: Starter Bakery's hazelnut kouign amann
22: Pupusas at Cafe and Restaurant Montecristo
23: 2 a.m. apple fritter at Bob's
24: Le Sanctuaire's vadouvan
25: Crab louis salad at Nettie's Crab Shack
26: Soy sauce chicken from Happy Bakery & Deli
27: Locanda's Jewish-style artichoke
28: Local: Mission Eatery's asparagus-egg sandwich
29: Memphis Minnie's 18-hour brisket
30: Custard buns from City View
31: Mission Chinese Food's kung pao pastrami
32: Panisse frites from Frances
33: Izakaya Yuzuki's chawanmushi
34: Fatted Calf's chorizo
35: Silvanas from House of Silvanas
36: Linden Street Brewery's black lager
37: Aged oolongs from Red Blossom Tea Company
38: Broken Record's crawfish grits
39: Cebiche mixto from La Mar 
40: Nutella-hazelnut hand pie from Black Jet Baking Co.
41: Fifth Floor's burger
42: Perbacco's agnolotti dal plin
43: Iced coffee from Sightglass
44: Cypress Grove's Purple Haze Chevre
45: Lechon from Tastebuds Cuisine
46: Duck with beets from AQ
47: Tai nigiri at ICHI Sushi
48: Fish with explosive chiles from Spices! 
49: Baker & Banker Bakery's blueberry cream cheese muffin
50: Kufta tajine from Cafe Zitouna

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Follow me at @JonKauffman.

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