No culinary leader in America deserves the honorific of “chef’s chef” more than Corey Lee. Easy labels don’t stick to his visionary cooking. Lee runs three San Francisco restaurants, including the bistro Monsieur Benjamin and In Situ at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, but it’s at his flagship where his virtuosic talents most hold sway. Lee was born in Korea, and he most often summons the cuisines of China, Japan, and his native country for his intricate, striking dishes. Lobster coral soup dumplings, mussels stuffed with glass noodles and layered vegetables, a combination of potato salad and caramelized anchovies that recalls two staples of banchan: After thousands of meals consumed for Eater, I don’t know another place in America that serves food more dazzlingly, gratifyingly singular than Benu. Master sommelier Yoon Ha’s beverage pairings keep pace with Lee’s kitchen — another of the restaurant’s near-impossible achievements.
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