Benu, San Francisco's Michelin two-star restaurant run by artist/chef Cory Lee, garnered raves from critics and diners alike since it opened in 2010. Rightfully so. The sparsely-decorated joint and Lee's avant-garde molecular gastronomy, with Asian and European touches, are unparalleled. We were fortunate enough to have our birthday dinner there over the weekend thanks to friends with fat wallets and even fatter hearts. (Per person? 12 courses for $180, add $120 more for wine pairings.) And while we typically loathe diners who snap shots of their food with their phones, we couldn't resist taking footage of Benu's whimsical birthday box and cake that arrived at our table.

If you can afford it and/or have generous friends who want to take you someplace grand for your birthday or whatnot, we cannot recommend Benu strongly enough. Even San Francisco hater David Chang loves the joint, declaring it the best restaurant in America.

Benu, 22 Hawthorne Street (at Howard), S.F., 415-685-4860