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Amaryll Schwertner Is Obsessed With Chawan Mushi

Go ahead—call Amaryll Schwertner an aesthete. As chef and co-owner (with partner Lori Regis) of Boulettes Larder, she has upped the food-as-art quotient in San Francisco and redefined prepared foods as we know them. Given all that, you can be sure she’s obsessed with something a bit more refined than, say, Cheez-doodles.

“If you really want to know what I seek out when I’m traveling and what I always order when I see it on a menu, it’s chawan mushi [a simple Japanese egg custard flavored with soy, mirin and dashi—a seaweed-based stock]. It’s a very simple dish, but sometimes it’s hard to get something simple exactly right. I used to eat it all the time at Maki, an idiosyncratic little restaurant in Japantown. You never know who you’ll run into there—Japanese businessmen, Alice Waters—but their savory chawan mushi is a spectacular delicacy. It’s not on the menu, but they often have it as a special. Theirs is best served ice-cold, and sometimes they put a little morsel of chicken or cube of potato at the bottom of the custard dish. So sophisticated! I also like the version at Ame. It’s a staple of the menu, and is always consistently good. I didn’t try Japanese food until I was well out of college, but I grew to love it—the flavors weren’t familiar to my native palate, but they made inroads into my heart.”

Maki, 1825 Post St., 415-921-5215
Ozumo, 161 Steuart St., 415-882-1333

Check out our other gallery of Obsessed Food people here.