New American, Asian
$ $ $ $
22 Hawthorne St (at Howard St)
San Francisco, CA 94105
(415) 685-4860
5:30pm - 8:30pm
5:30pm - 8:30pm
5:30pm - 8:30pm
5:30pm - 9:30pm
5:30pm - 9:30pm

Since chef Corey Lee opened Benu after four years at The French Laundry (see No. 6), it has consistently been ranked one of the finest restaurants in the country. Lee is a rising star, and he continues to collect stars, too. In 2015, Michelin gave three to Benu, putting it on par with two of California’s most celebrated restaurants, Thomas Keller’s aforementioned St. Helena icon and Chris Kostow’s Restaurant at Meadowood (see No. 18). But unlike those wine country establishments, Benu is located in a historic building in the heart of San Francisco’s SOMA district.

Lee’s menus incorporate the best of Asian and American cuisine, combining them in thoughtful ways. To hear him discuss a recent source of inspiration for his upcoming cookbook, the Haenyeo of Jeju — women in their 60s, 70s, and 80s (the oldest was 87) who carry on a dying, centuries-old tradition of free-diving for seafood to provide for their families — is to understand the depth of consideration and feeling the chef puts into his work. On the plate, this all translates to a $228 tasting menu featuring dishes like thousand-year-old quail egg with potage and ginger; frog leg with mountain yam and celery; sea urchin with okra and nori; foie gras xiao long bao; and Ossetra caviar with winter melon and chicken cream.

— Arthur Bovino, 101 Best Restaurants, April 1, 2015



  • 7x7's Big Eat 2012 says the faux shark's fin soup is delicious. Yum!
  • SF Weeklys Best Of 2012 Winner Editorial Pick - Best California Cuisine. Twenty years ago, Benu would have been described as an Asian fusion...
  • Lee masterfully blends myriad influences into a cuisine that transcends cultural boundaries, and sommelier Yoon Ha's insane pairing suggestions complete the entire experience. [Eater 38 Member]
  • After eight years at The French Laundry, Corey Lee finally gets the spotlight. At his SOMA-district jewel box, everything is well sourcedfrom the porcelain to the $160 tasting menu.
  • Chef Corey Lee combines Asian-inspired flavors to create dishes like his must-try faux sharks-fin soup. He loves to work with unusual ingredients, like pine needles from the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
  • Travel + Leisure, one of our professional reviewers, says, "A bowl of wild-salmon roe with puffed buckwheat conjures taste memories of cold soba."
  • Everything about this new temple to fine dining is part of a larger theatrical experience, from the custom-designed utensils, plates, and bowls to the intricately-plated food.
  • To try: Mock shark's fin soup with Dungeness crabmeat and black truffle custard is set inside a pork stock made from a rare Chinese prosciutto. Yum!
  • The ultimate tasting menu experience. The food here is beautiful. Highlights for me were the thousand year old egg, oyster with pork belly and kimchi, xo sausage and shark fin soup.
  • The tasting menu is now $180 and worth every penny. The kimchee oyster pork belly, the salmon roe with buckwheat, and the foie grois xiao long bao are fantastic.
  • The $160 tasting menu is worth every penny (entres, $24-$40). Also: Try the faux shark's fin soup with truffle custard.
  • Try the Birthday cake - Complimentary birthday cake! :D Happy birthday to me! :)
  • Try the Salad Emmanuelle
  • Get the tasting menu for Korean, Chinese, Japanese, and French influences in harmony. Try monkfish liver + pumpkin tofu. Green Guide Editor
  • At the clean-lined Benu, in SoMa, every detail is carefully considered, from the porcelain tableware to the Eastern-inspired chefs tasting menu (a 1,000-year-old quail egg; salt-and-pepper squid).
  • The tasting menu: a $180 spiritual experience. Everything was prepared with such creativity, thoughtfulness and consideration; porcelain custom made for the food.
  • French Laundry alum Corey Lee creates dishes reflecting both his Asian heritage and personal obsessions. A bowl of wild-salmon roe with puffed buckwheat is one of 18 courses on the $180 tasting menu.
  • Salt and pepper squid or chicharron de calamar aka fried squid rinds!!! I know it sounds odd and it is delicious! It is squid ink and pulverized squid made into fried rinds like chips.
  • Three Michelin stars.
  • The conch dish is one of the most beautiful plates you will ever feast your eyes and taste buds on.