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It's hard to dine at Masa's without having high expectations. Masa's has been one of the top restaurants in San Francisco almost since it opened. The latest in a series of head chefs since Masa Kobayashi himself, Gregory Short, sous chef at French Laundry for several years, has stepped in as of 2005. Like Thomas Keller, Short shares a sense of whimsy and great respect for quality, seasonal ingredients.
The interior of the restaurant is gorgeously appointed in chocolate brown, luxurious and contemporary but also comfortable, which complements the refined and smooth service. The mostly European décor with Asian touches is matched with the cuisine. As at the French Laundry, the multi-course options are customized to give each diner a unique set of courses. The six-course menu ($90 per person) recently featured an amuse bouche of a perfect, tiny morsel of Japanese mackerel (saba) with a soy glaze perched on a bit of seaweed salad. -- Amy Sherman