Hello there! It's Vicky again... Blogging about the latest act of gluttony.
In my previous post, I blogged about Gluttony Partner and my trip up to Point Reyes to gorge ourselves on oysters. (And speaking of Gluttony Partner, after a short conversation with him, he's willing to forgo whatever anonimity he has remaining and is allowing me to use his name. Voila! Now we're both going to ousted as societal gluttons. Muahaha!) We had lunch at the ever elusive Long John Silver's (Yes... what is up with that anyway? I remember seeing all these ads for them on tv when I lived in SD, and even when I moved up, I'm continuously flooded with blown up pictures of fried goodness. Yet, there was never a location convenient to me. Argh!)
Fortunately, I found out there was a new one that had just opened up in South San Francisco so that was where we made our second stop for food.... the first being a donut shop in Half Moon Bay. I did mention it was a trip of gluttony right? Sadly to say, in our hunger and elation of finding Long John Silver's I forgot to take the pictures of the food prior to gobbling it all down. We just have a few silly pictures of us wearing the paper cut out pirate wannabe hats, which if you even glance in the mere direction of, is enough to make you blind. Hence, they're not posted.
So after a breakfast of donuts and milk (yes... we are the poster kids of the healthy food pyramid....) and a lunch of fried seafood at Long John Silvers (man... I'm making my nutritionist mother proud!)....and a pit stop at a farmers market fruit stand (oh yes. must have our one peach to balance out all the fried goodness! See! I know how to eat healthy!)... and over 50 oysters at Hog Island...we finally made it to dinner. Thank god this little restaurant closes at 11! We finally drove out of the Point Reyes area around 930pm and made it down to San Mateo. Sam and I absolutely love ramen. We constantly need to get our ramen fix. I had introduced him to this restaurant after a hike we took in the San Mateo hills and needless to say, it was the perfect way to end a great day of excercise. I shall now present to you.... HIMAWARI in downtown San Mateo. The main thoroughway of downtown is 3rd Avenue. Himawari is located a little off to the side on 2nd.
We walked in and got seated immediately and ordered our usual appetizer. I absolutely love the Buta Kakuni ($7.95) appetizer they have. Early on, Sam had cooked me an amazing meal of Dong Po Rou (Braised Pork Belly), and ever since then, after discovering our mutual liking for fatty cuts of pork, I've been raving about the Buta Kakuni here. Unfortunately, in our eagerness to polish off the dish, I forgot to pull out my camera and take a lovely picture. All I have to offer the dear readers is a picture of the last piece of Buta in the precious death grip of Sam's chopsticks, with of course, his upper body cropped out. Don't worry, he doesn't really look headless in reality.
I think Himawari just has large vats of this braised fatty goodness bubbling behind the counters. In the appetizer version, they take the cubed pieces, lightly dust them in what I think is Mochiko powder, and fry them so that the outsides are dry and crispy. Placed on a bed of thinly sliced onions and topped with scallions, they serve the Buta Kakuni with this tangy and slightly sweet soy based sauce. Absolutely divine!! The textural contrast of this dish is amazing. The outsides are dry, crisp and fragrant, and the center of the cubes are braised to the point where the fibers of meet are falling-apart tender. Yes... you read that right, it is a fried piece of cubed pork belly. No, I do not care to know how bad it is for me and how clogged my arteries are. They do a very good job of rendering out most of the fat from the meat during all the braising so I'd like to think that most of it is cooked out.... Thank god Himawari is around half an hour away from us. Otherwise we'd turn into roley poley's from eating this all day long. This stuff is so good, that all I have to do is mention "Hima..." to Sam, and I can see his eyes glaze over and images of this dish dancing like sugarplums above his head.
While Sam was busy polishing off the last treasured piece Buta Kakuni, our server brought out our other appetizer. Make sure you take the time to read the cover of the menu. They post up their seasonal specials and this was one of the ones available during our visit. I now present to you, Seared Hokkaido Scallops w/ Wild Mushrooms on an Artichoke Tapenade ($10.95). (Now say that ten times fast!) These plump little babies were GOOOD! The restaurant definately did not skimp out on the quality of the scallops. They were sashimi grade - sweet, fresh, and tender. I really enjoyed the twist on surf and turf. The earthiness of the wild mushrooms contrasted nicely with the slight hint of sea from the scallops. The mushrooms were cooked in a sweet mirin/soy base and that went well with the tapenande. The tapenade had a very unique texture - being that it was made from artichokes... It was slightly tangy, reminscent of yuzu, and really pulled the entire dish together. Now if only I could have this for breakfast...and lunch... and dinner...
Patience, dear readers, we're not even onto our main course yet! This is yet ANOTHER appetizer we ordered: Asari Garlic Butter Clams ($6.95). I'm guessing it is the Japanese version of clams cooked scampi style. The clams are cooked in their own juices, and the broth tasted strongly of clam essence. It was balanced out with just enough sake and sweet butter. Oh the glory my tastebuds were in! The clams were firm and al dente, combined with the wonderful broth they were swimming in, I really wished I had a loaf of crusty ciabatta to dip.
That is my bowl of Shoyu Ramen with Extra Bamboo ($7.95 + $1 for the bamboo). Himawari also offers the Deluxe Ramen which comes with 3, yes THREE pieces of the braised (unfried) buta kakuni and extra toppings for a price of $10.95. The ramen was cooked to a perfect bite and the hot steaming soup warmed us right up. The broth carried a lot of depth and hinted at all the bones sacrified in the making of the soup. I honestly would not be surprised if they snuck in a couple spoonfuls of the braising liquid from the buta kakuni. Needless to say, it was a great way to have dinner. (And if you are wondering... we did have dessert after this... at Hong Kong Style dessert place around the corner. And no... we're not trying to set a new guiness record for stomach capacity...)
202 2nd Avenue
Mon-Thu 11:30 a.m.-11:00 p.m.
Fri-Sat 11:30 a.m.-12:00 a.m.
Sun 11:30 a.m.-9:00 p.m.