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5 Top Dishes From 2004

By Stett Holbrook

I SPEND a lot of my time eating out, and last year several dishes stood out. Here are my top picks for 2004. Here's to a new year of more good food.

In this creative riff on green papaya salad, a South Asia favorite, Anise Cafe's Green Apple Salad With Grilled Beef pairs tart apples with juicy slices of marinated steak. 1663 W. San Carlos St, San Jose. 408.298.8178.

Salang Pass: It's hard to pick a favorite at this excellent Afghan restaurant, but I have to give my vote to Borani Badenjan. This dish combines meltingly rich, slow-cooked eggplant with a great tomato sauce and the exotic yet familiar flavors of coriander and cardamom. 37462 Fremont Blvd., Fremont. 510.785.9200.

Stoa Restaurant & Wine Bar: If I had to select the perfect winter dish, I'd go for Stoa's warming Wild Mushroom and Leek Ragu. Creamy, ultrarich polenta is bejeweled with plump hedgehog mushrooms, earthy leeks and tiny pearl onions. A small salad of fresh herbs and microgreens crowns it all. 632 Emerson St., Palo Alto. 650.328.2600.

Uncle Frank's Barbeque: Outside of the Texas barbecue town of Lockhart, Uncle Frank's Brisket is the best I've had. It's smoked for 30 hours and stands proud without the addition of sauce—though the sauce is quite good here, too. To accommodate his increasing base of 'cue fans, Uncle Frank has moved to Mountain View. 2135 Old Middlefield Way. 650.321.6369.

Yasu: Tiny Yasu is a Japantown standout, especially with dishes like the seductive Black Cod. A miso glaze gives the already rich fish a deep, caramel-like flavor. 211 E. Jackson St., San Jose. 408.291.0684.

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From the January 5-11, 2005 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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