No 83: Braised Oxtail and Daikon at Namu

Categories: SFoodie's 92
Misa Arnberger
Braised oxtail with daikon and garlic, $16.

SFoodie's countdown of the 92 best things to eat and drink in San Francisco, 2011 edition.

Oxtail braised with daikon and garlic sounds like a loud, blunt dish, a blaring assembly of strong flavors. But at Namu, Dennis Lee's take on a traditional Korean dish, kkori jjim, incorporates Japanese ingredients and French technique, coming out lilting and delicate.

Lee braises oxtail in house-made dashi for a few hours, then picks the meat out of the nooks of bone. Meanwhile, he strains and defats the stock, then reduces it to concentrate the flavors and gelatin in the broth, giving it a gloss that can be felt across the tongue. The daikon and garlic are braised separately. As anyone who's peeled the giant radishes knows, raw daikon, with its monstrous funk, is the kind of vegetable that makes small children cry and people open up their windows. Simmer it a while, though, and it turns out to be the most tender-hearted of monsters, sweet and almost porous. 

Just before service, the meat, vegetables, and broth come back together for a final simmer ― the oxtail meat now as tender as a ripple, the daikon tamed, the garlic custard-like. A final flourish: a scattering of shichimi, so that each spoonful of the stew hits the mouth with a delicate shimmer of spice. It's the sort of dish that makes you shush your tablemates ― just for a second ― to let you concentrate on. Not loud at all.

Namu: 439 Balboa (at Sixth Ave.), 386-8332.

Dishes in our series so far:
92: Goat tacos from El Norteño
91: Faux shark's fin soup at Benu
90: Esperpento's alcachofas a la plancha
89: Poco Dolce's olive oil chocolate bar
88: Decantr's chicken-liver mousseline
87: Outerlands' levain bread
86: Fraîche's frozen yogurt
85: Gyro King's spinach pie
84: Lahore Karahi's tandoori fish

Follow us on Twitter: @sfoodie. Follow me at @jonkauffman.

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Alex B.
Alex B.

someone needs to do this on a kare-kare...

Andrew H.
Andrew H.

If you are into oxtail, I highly recommend the braised oxtail at To Hyang in the Richmond (Geary near 2nd). It's a less involved preparation: oxtail, daikon, carrot, hard-boiled eggs, dates, and chestnuts, married in a rich, silky sweet-salty braising sauce.

I love oxtail, and grew up eating it, and my dad is an excellent cook, but this is the best oxtail I've ever had in my life. I'll have to try Namu's to compare.

Jo Boston
Jo Boston

i just had this last week. what an experience. i would go back to namu just for this.

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