State Bird Provisions has been one of the hottest tickets in San Francisco ever since its opening. The concept sounds a bit quirky, in a Western “dim sum” style where servers bring daily changing small plates in push carts. While there are also printed menu items, the real fun of choosing each bite from the push carts is perhaps what drew San Franciscans in hordes such that waiting time at this largely walk-in restaurant can run hours. I was obviously very intrigued by what was going on at this restaurant, and at the end of the meal was absolutely stunned by the versatility of food.
I typically give higher scores to restaurants with inventiveness that is hard to replicate elsewhere, and State Bird Provisions definitely belongs in that category. Among some memorable items from the push carts included the perfectly cooked pork belly, the silky smooth farro risotto with shiitake mushroom that had a nice Asian touch, duck liver mousse with almond financier that my dining companion couldn’t stop raving about, the delightful trout parfait that was literally melting in my mouth, and persimmon (I don’t even eat the fruit regularly, but was truly impressed with the salty spice that came with it).
Among the printed menus, obviously you have to go for state bird (quail in this case), which was as crisp as you would imagine in your dream, and other dishes like quail eggs that came with farro, green olive salsa verde and apple and maitake and duck “fried rice” also showed a range of flavor and texture that was brilliant. Don’t skip dessert and go for the szechuan pepper “ice cream” sandwich (despite its name, it wasn’t spicy at all) and “world peace” peanut muscovado milk that was a delightful sip. I was looking for a dining experience in San Francisco that I haven’t had before in NYC, and this place defniitely delivered!
I showed up slightly after 5:30 p.m. when the restaurant opened and was offered seats for a party of three at the counter at 7:30 p.m. Good thing that I persevered and waited! The restaurant has a concise wine and beer menu so definitely sip a glass or two while cherishing the awesome dishes coming out from the kitchen. The dining area has that casual, hip vibe (I was somewhat surprised that the restaurant was located at a rather quiet and slightly sketchy corner of Japantown) that would make your dining experience even better, with friendly staffs explaining each dish on the push carts in detail. The hype for State Bird Provisions is real, and if you can score a spot within two hours, kill some time somewhere and wait. You won’t regret it!
- Creativity: 9.5/10
- Execution: 8.5/10
- Ingredients: 8.5/10
- Flavor: 9.0/10
- Texture: 8.5
Address: 1529 Fillmore Street, San Francisco, CA 94115
Telephone: (415) 795-1272