At the remodeled E&O, wheat is not an issue
We forgot we were eating gluten-free at the new E&O Asian Kitchen.
We were too distracted by salmon crudo ($15), arrayed on a pink salt block, and the umami-drenched broccolini with chiles and Red Boat Fish Sauce ($9).
We had stopped in the former E&O Trading Company to check out its recent relaunch, which had the place closed for seven weeks. The cosmetic changes represented more than a few new chairs. Orange and gold tones have been replaced with cool grays and creams, actual bamboo with bamboo patterns behind the dramatically sleek bar.
We also spotted the separate gluten-free menu, which consulting chef Arnold Wong introduced several years ago. It's one of the most thoughtful and generous in the city.
Occasionally, the 16-item list instructs diners to ask the server to hold an ingredient, such as the puffed rice on the crudo, or suggests that ultra-sensitive diners avoid a dish.
But many dishes come off the regular menu, which Wong radically updated for the restaurant's relaunch. His "gnocchi" ($18) tosses together cylindrical Korean rice noodles, springy but not dense, with great chunks of filet mignon and cabbage. And for E&O's wonderful "Japanese bop" ($16), the cooks smother a crisped rectangle of rice in sharp daikon pickles, stir-fried cucumbers and spinach, and an oozy-yolked egg.
Free of gluten, not of pleasure.
E&O Asian Kitchen, 314 Sutter St. (at Stockton St.); 415-693-0303 or eosanfrancisco.com