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Jul 8, 2006 07:32 AM

Sand Dabs at Lulu--Probably the Best in SF

Three perfect grilled fish. And I mean perfect. Nothing I've had at any restaurant in SF, the venerable Tadich included, comes close. The next best thing would be a top-notch karei karaage at a really good Japanese restaurant.

One look and I knew I hadn't a hope of duplicating this at home. Uniformly crisp on the outside, moist and just at flaking point on the inside. Even the eggs inside the fish were done to a turn. A thick slick of browned butter sauce, with roasted garlic cloves, pepperoncini, olives, and lemon peel slivers strewn about, gave the dish richness and contrast, but it was the fennel seed and chili rubbed into the head and gill area that gave this dish a unique spark of flavor.

Squeamish hounds may want tos skip this part. So perfectly cooked were these dabs that even the eggs inside the fish were done to a turn. (I love fish eggs.) The edges were so nicely crisped that I was crunching on the small bones that rim the fish, and I even ate all the the little fins I could find. Unfortunately, I waited too long (distracted by an asparagus and prosciutto pizza and the rest of the fish), to eat the fish heads, which looked a delectable crunchy brown. But there will be a next time.

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