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Timothy Hollingsworth on Chefs to Watch: Corey Lee, Benu

Benu San Francisco

Courtesy of Benu

Sea urchin with buckwheat capellini at Benu.

The Chef: Corey Lee

The Locale: 22 Hawthorne Street

What to Expect: The highly anticipated new Benu is housed in a historic building in San Francisco’s SOMA district. Lee spent more than a year collaborating with purveyors, designers, gardeners and architects to fine-tune each aspect of the experience. “Corey was the chef at French Laundry for nine years, and he’s one of the most talented chefs out there,” Hollingsworth says. “He’s a perfectionist, very focused, extremely intelligent and a hard worker.” Expect modern fine dining inspired by Lee’s global restaurant experiences, his Korean heritage and Mr. Keller.

Details, Details: Take a moment to admire the porcelain tableware designed by the supplier to Korean royalty, a hushed minimalist space designed by architect Richard Bloch and an exquisite courtyard entrance.

The Food: Benu has an à la carte menu, but expect the unexpected, such as snapping turtle velouté, semolina rigatoni with sea cucumber and beef short ribs and poularde cooked en vessie (aka chicken braised in pig’s bladder).

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