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When we heard Daniel Patterson had been awarded Best Chef in the West by the James Beard Foundation, we rushed over to Ume, his new Cal-Asian concept that replaces his Plum restaurant. Ume (which means “plum” and “tasty” in Japanese) is a cozy spot with an avant-garde purple polish, a paean to the summer fruit. We started with a Mount Fuji–sized pile of puffy rice crackers, but they were so light and ethereal, they were easily conquered. Crisp Chinese broccoli with “misonnaise” was crunchy and creamy, and the braised oxtail, spiked with ginger and kimchi, was at once rich and refreshing. A few dishes proved lackluster: The “sticky pork” was dry, for example. Next door is Patterson’s Plum Bar, his dazzling hot spot with a bar menu that features an adult Happy Meal (cheeseburger with Four Roses bourbon and a pint).
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