We had really enjoyed our time visiting Petaluma and hitting the Cheese Trail, which was a great time. But, all things must come to an end, and it was time head back to SFO. But not before the really friendly cat came by to bid us farewell.
I'd planned a single stop on the way to the airport and we decided to getting Dim Sum at Zen Peninsula which had been recommended to us. A big plus was it was basically on the way to the airport. The small parking lot is quite odd here, since the dining room is one of those cavernous dim sum places.
We were hungry and ended up ordering way too much food....well, it didn't seem to be a lot when we ordered, but the portion sizes seemed quite large.
We were also quite surprised at how slowly this place filled up....a slow trickle of people. The place wasn't even full when we left at 1145. Anyway, on to the food.
The Missus enjoyed the Chicken Feet.
This was decently flavored, good soy, fermented black bean, but nothing special. Still, it was toe-sucking goodness to the Missus.
The Gailan was under-cooked; very crunchy, lacking in flavor.
The flavor of the Pork Neck was nice; sweet and savory.
But the Missus didn't care for the almost crunchy texture of it.
The portion size of the Soy Sauce Noodles was quite large.
This was ok if a bit too salty.
The Missus saw Turnip Cake with XO Sauce and automatically thought it would be like Sea Harbour.
No such luck Chuck. The flavor was on the milder side and the radish cake a bit too mushy for our taste. Still, not bad. One funny thing; we didn't want to waste food so ended up taking this on our flight.......nothing like the smell of XO sauce on Virgin America!
I saw the Mustard Steamed Pork Intestine and decided I needed to try it. It was very fragrant, and the "sauce" tasted good, though I wasn't a big fan of all the scum.
And while there were some bits that looked like part of the Piggy's last meal floating around; the pungency of the dish masked all of that. This also added to the pungency of our carry-on....I really felt bad. In fact, I made sure not to buy any washed rind cheeses so as to not bother other passengers.....and here I was bringing pork intestine along for the flight. Luckily, no one sat around us and the flight was relatively empty. I didn't see anyone sniffing around wondering "what the heck is that smell"......
One last item I wanted to try was the Duck Liver Sausage Bun. Think ducky lapcheong.
While I felt the steamed bun could have been a bit lighter....it seemed to be getting gummy pretty quickly; I liked the flavor. The Missus's Shandong roots betrayed Her as She declared this way too sweet.
In spite of what you might think upon reading to this point; this was a decent dim sum meal; nothing spectacular, but still better, and cheaper than San Diego. Of course the Missus wanted to head to the SGV as soon as we got home.
Zen Peninsula 1180 El Camino Real Millbrae, CA 94030
We finished lunch a bit earlier than expected, so I decided to head over to Burlingame. I'd heard that one of the Tea Shops also made tea infused chocolates. After finding a parking spot, which was a lot more difficult than I anticipated, then wandering around a bit....the shop isn't the easiest place to find....we got to Rue Du Thé , which I believe is also named Leland Tea Company.
Really friendly folks. And while not on the same level....according to the Missus as Wine Country Chocolates, She did enjoy what She selected. Especially the chili infused chocolates.
Rue Du Thé 1223 Donnelly Ave Burlingame, CA 94010
We really enjoyed our short trip to the Bay Area. In fact, the Missus is already planning a return....for more cheese!
Yeah, I know, perhaps I should mention something about the Michelin star in my title. But I figure there will be folks who know of Wakuriya and perhaps people "skimming" would spend enough time to read the first sentence of the post. I'm not totally sold on the Michelin Guide, it is after all a tourist guide. The one thing I've found with all the Michelin Starred Restaurants I've been to, the last one being The French Laundry, when I was young and thought it was all about expense and prestige, is that service in these named establishments have always been excellent.....sometimes a bit too much, but still excellent at its core. To be honest, it's not what the Michelin Guide said that drew me to Wakuriya, but the pedigree of the husband and wife team that runs the place. Katsuhiro & Mayumi Yamasaki both worked at the legendary Kaiseki restaurant Kitcho in Kyoto. The place has been on my list for quite a while. The restaurant takes only about 15 customers per evening, it's a small intimate experience. You call for reservations starting at midnight 30 days before. Knowing we were finally headed back up to the Bay Area, though only as North as Daly City, the Missus was all for a nice dinner...... So I called when I woke on a weekday morning 445 am, called an left a message for a reservation. And receiving a call back later in the day telling me, in the most polite Japanese way, "nice try, but you better try a bit harder if you really want to eat here...." I went home and told the Missus. Now usually, She'd be a bit irritated and decide the effort was not worth it....but for some reason, She was quite interested. So interested that She woke up just before midnight and called for reservations right when the clocked flashed 12:00.......and got a busy signal! She hung up and called back and left a message and later that day we found out that we'd gotten two seats at Wakuriya.
The tiny restaurant is situated in the most discreet and low-keyed locale....in a strip mall (of course - my kind of place) that contains a Safeway. It was the week after Thanksgiving; which turned out to be the coldest weekend of the winter. It was drizzling and pretty darn cold. As we walked to the door; we got the earliest reservations possible, 630, and had arrived a bit early....the door opened and Mayumi Yamasaki opened the door, saw us, and when we told her we had reservations, she asked us to come in because it was just to cold.
The interior is spartan; a couple of tables and a long wood bar. I don't know if it was by plan or just our timing, but we were seated at the bar, which only had two seats. We loved where we were, isolated from all the customers who would come in later, and able to watch the operations of putting together dinner take place.
I enjoy getting in early at restaurants.....though at time the kitchen hasn't hit its rhythm, I find the service and pacing to be much better, as was the case here; we got nice explanations of our dishes and even had time to chat a bit. Mayumi does the front of house.....this is basically a two person operation which means all of the front of house, Katsuhiro does all the cooking and most of the food prep. He works in silence. We heard him speak twice during our entire time in the restaurant...as we left; a "thank you" and "goodnight".
As you might guess the meal is in the style of Kaiseki, seasonal, much of it local, juggling taste and appearance, and was served in a fairly traditional order. I guess I'd call this "Modern California Kaiseki". Things started off with an apéritif, a wonderful infused nigori sake.
There are sake, wine, and other drinks available. We went with two of the tasting flights.
The Missus went with the "Fruity Flight"...the name still makes me laugh, with Yuzu Omoi - bascially yuzu infused sake, Kome Kome Shu - a light and tart "Riesling" like sake, and the Missus' favorite the Ume Shu.
I went with the premium sake flight; mainly because it had my favorite, Kubota Manju......
It is typical for a Kaiseki meal to start off with a Sakizuke, basically a small appetizer, almost like an amuse-bouche. In this case it was a fairly size-able oven baked "goma-tofu" topped with uni.
Goma tofu is not tofu in the classic sense; it is made with sesame paste and a thickening agent. Loved the rich flavor of sesame with the rich though refreshing flavor of the uni. This was actually a pretty good size appetizer.
The Zensai - the true appetizers featured three items; the lobster with egg yolk dressing and avocado.
The Missus is not the biggest fan of lobster, but this was tender and sweet, the ikura (salmon roe) added a perfect briney balance.
Fried Fresno Satoimo with miso two ways.....
This was served "dengaku" (topped with miso) style. The milder, sweeter, and less salty Saikyo miso version was a winner.
The grated apple on the Madai (Red Snapper) nigiri was a revelation....I would never for the life of me think of this combination.
The Onmono, which I thought of as "Futamono" was a nice, clean, dashi based broth with wonderful rich and velvety, kamo dango of sorts...duck meatballs.
So comforting on such a cold night.
Next up, the Sashimi Tsukuri. This was done in the form of a salad with a citrus dressing....
Nice, crisp, refreshing....the Missus said the Hokkaido Scallop hidden under everything might have been one of the best bites She's had in a while.
The Mushimono - steamed dish was a steamed black cod with sesame sauce.
Nice fish prep, the Missus isn't the biggest fan of sesame paste, so other than the brussel sprouts, this wasn't a favorite.
Some gelato to refresh....Satsuma Granite with sweet ginger syrup
By this time, 730 had arrived and all the other tables were full. Still, we had a bird's eye view of the proceedings. Things were never rushed, questions were always answered, and things moved like a well choreographed dance......no words between husband and wife, the magic of spousal instincts with regards to movement and order.
The next dish, the heaviest and most substantial was actually our least favorite of the evening; the wagyu no miso sukiyaki.
The meat was very tender, but had a strong metallic tinge to it; the miso sauce wasa bit too salty for my taste.
The end of the meal (except for dessert) was a typical Gohanmono - the rice dish. There was a choice of two offered, so of course we got one each.
The ebi no tempura donburi - fried shrimp over rice was nice, the shrimp tender, though the Missus enjoys a lighter, more crisp batter.....I loved the tsuyu which had a perfect balance for my taste.
The "Tai Chazuke" featured snapper with sesame paste and dashi over rice.
To me, this is comfort food elevated.......for the Missus, it had more sesame paste than She enjoys.
As for dessert, matcha and and white bean mousse with petit “tai-yaki”......
Well it must have been good since the Missus ate both of them!
We both really enjoyed our meals. The service was excellent, not only was our hostess efficient and knowledgeable, but also quite gracious....and those little things were apparent. When my first dish arrived, the settings were on my right....but after I ate it with my left hand, all my settings were placed on my left. The matcha to end the meal was as perfect as I've ever had.....we watched Mayumi preparing the tea; she added some hot water, then took a pause to check the temperature by feel, it was apparently too hot so she waited and then added water waiting to serve us until she thought it was the correct temp........which we got to see since we were seated at the bar.
While not quite in the league of Urasawa, I'd say this meal is well worth the $95 price tag (minus drinks). With 15 settings a night, you know this isn't a money grab......
I'm positive we'll try to return during another season....if the Missus can get through on the phone line!
In 1996 I had a meal that changed my view of dim sum. I had grown up eating the typical, run of the mill stuff back home in Honolulu, siu mai, char siu bao, blah, blah, blah.....I was in San Francisco, had a car, and decided to visit this new (at that time) Chinese Restaurant that was supposed to be "possibly" the best in the country. Hyperbole? Perhaps. But I'll say this much, that visit to Koi Palace changed the way I looked at dim sum, in terms of quality, flavor, and how things were put together. I'd longed to return. In fact, I once mentioned Koi Palace to a supposed "foodie", who looked at me, laughed, and said, you're "the only person I know who wants to go to Daly City and eat"....such was the depth and breath of much of San Diego when I arrived here in 2001. Gladly, much has changed since then.....and so have I. So when we made plans for this little road trip, I really wanted to see Koi Palace circa 2013. I also wanted to share that experience with the Missus.
We arrived just before opening. Folks were already milling around just inside the door. When they started seating, all the "Popo's" pushed to the front of the crowd....it was chaos; though controlled chaos, as the host had kept track of who was in line and ignored the folks who cut in front of the line.
17, almost 18 years, is a lot of water under the bridge, and I have to say the place really shows its age; dark, somewhat dank, scuffed tables...well, I felt right at home. The Missus on the other hand, "the best dim sum in the states, huh?"
We started things off with the Steamed Shrimp Dumpling with XO Sauce:
In many ways this was just perfect; the shrimp plump, full of flavor, steamed to perfection, the XO sauce added that wonderful, deep savory flavor....the much over-used "umami". My biggest problem with this were the wrappers, too thick, too sticky, and falling to pieces when you picked it up with chopsticks....the juices leaked onto the table....of course, this is Koi Palace, so they just placed the next dish right on the oil slick.
I have a rule, "never order Xiao Long Bao at a Cantonese Dim Sum chop", but I broke that rule after seeing Crab Roe Xiao Long Bao on the menu. And I'm glad I did.
This was very good. The dough was just chewy enough, the filling had a wonderful balance of sweetness, which wasn'y cloying, along with pork tones. There was enough "soup" to keep me happy. And yes, you definitely could taste the crab in this. I'm glad we ordered it.
We also ordered the Seafood Pan Fried Noodles, which was good, but not great.
The cooking technique of the seafood was excellent....down to the the oft mishandled squid which was very tender. The sauce/gravy was really bland and there was too little of it and some parts of the noodles were hard instead of crisp.
The Turnip Cakes were average.
The texture was too gummy, like too much flour was used. Not much flavor; I think we make better at home, though that XO sauce that came with it was killer......
The other dish that was "killer", though not in a good way was the Cheong Fun with Fried Fish Filet. It sounded like a good idea, but was a mistake in retrospect.
I've noticed this fad recently, especially at Sichuan Restaurants where fish filets are being coated with a sweet flour, that reminds me of artificially sweet cake mix. It's not a pleasant flavor to us and this was no exception. I'm not sure if anyone else has noticed that. The sauce(balanced salty and sweet) and the rice flour roll(thin and of perfect texture) were excellent, but that fish and the batter was just not our thing.
Things ended on a high note though, as you can see.
This wonderful example of porky beauty is the Koi Palace Suckling Pig. It ain't cheap at $18, but I'd pay that much just for the skin, which was just spot on, perfect in texture....light, crisp, swiney deliciousness. The meat itself was on the chewy side, but the pork flavor was just so good. I hadn't eaten swine so good since we got back from Pork-u-all, ummm Portugal. This is the real deal.....
I think the place needs to be freshened up a bit, that carpet looks like it hasn't been cleaned since 1996. Perhaps more effort goes into their other location(s).The service was pretty good, efficient, non-intrusive......
As to what the Missus thought about Koi Palace, "I expected more, I think Sea Harbour in Rosemead is better...." I read some time ago that Jonathan Gold was of the opinion that Koi Palace was the best "Hong Kong style restaurant in the US".....or something like that. Personally, I'm not so sure.....but that suckling pig was really good....
But in response to the person who made that remark about Daly City all those years ago, "yes, Daly City is a great spot to find good eats; just ask the hundreds of thousands who've been to Koi Palace."
One thing I really enjoyed about our post Thanksgiving Roadtrip was the theme....it really wasn't planned, but much of it revolved around food in one way or another......we ended up in San Bruno for two nights. San Mateo is close enough and we ended up going market-hopping. There are places where I didn't really take the time out to take photos; Nijiya and Whole Paycheck in San Mateo, but here's a couple of other places we stopped at while just checking things out:
Crystal Springs Produce:
I had read about tis place and thought it might be a nice stop. I didn't quite know where it was and the irony of the location and where we were was to evident in our selection for dinner, which was basically right across the street, though we didn't know it at the time.
The shop is not very big and you can't really do all your shopping here, but this is one of those places that every neighborhood should have; a nice selection of local, organic, with a nice selection of European products.
The Missus was especially interested in the Sardines and tinned Seafood, having been to Portugal earlier in the year.
The Missus was obsessed with apples at this time; She hoarded them, Jazz Apples, Crimson Gold, Blakc Arkansas......we added to the collection here.....
Remember those" I went to xxxx and all I got to show for it was this t-shirt", well, I went to NorCal and all I got to show for it was a bunch of apples.....
This was a nice shop, every neighborhood should have one of this quality; though I gotta say, the young man manning the counter treated me like he was doing me a favor by ringing me up......
Crystal Springs Produce 770 Polhemus Rd San Mateo, CA 94402
The Gourmet Corner:
I'd actually heard about this shop a while back.
When we entered, it looked like what I'd call a "box wine shop".....
With a nice selection of canard products. I mean, I really wish I had room for a six pack of duck confit!
Things really didn't click for us until one of the guys working here said, "we've got lots of other stuff in the back" and opened the door......
While there wasn't anything amazing.....think of this as the "Smart and Final" of French ingredients.
I was tempted to ask "Pardon me, would you have any Grey Poupon?"
Some of it was quite good......
Some of it was meh......
Still, I'd really love a shop like this in San Diego....though I'm not sure we could support it. The gentleman at the front counter told me that a good majority of the duck products went to Canada and I later saw some of it a Surfas. I was also told that I "should have come here before the foie gras ban"
I really enjoyed this stop.
The Gourmet Corner 873 N San Mateo Dr San Mateo, CA 94401
Full and happy after lunch at the Firestone Grill, we headed northward. Hitting Gilroy we couldn't help but stop at one of these tourists traps.....
We also stopped at the Gilroy Outlets. The Missus doesn't shop much at outlets, it's not Her "thing" I guess. But She was interested to see what the lululemon shop had to offer. Of course She was wearing some limited edition jacket thingy which made all the sales girls go "that's so nice isn't it?" ick..... Then I came to find out that we didn't stop for Her.....we stopped here to get some stuff for me???? Anyway, two shirts later we left the place......me wearing lululemon, sigh. I feel somewhat emasculated for some reason. They are comfortable though.
We eventually got to our hotel. We were staying in San Bruno at the Villa Montes. It gave us lots of options and we kept joking that we were going to NorCal, but not into SF......
After a short rest we got back on the road a drove around a bit. We were still pretty full form lunch and decided on a fairly light dinner. I gave the Missus a couple of options and She chose the restaurant which was located in Daly City. So we drove to Daly City stopping here and there. When the Missus saw the 99 Ranch Market we decided to stop since we were still running a bit early. After stretching our legs a bit we headed to our dinner destination, Burma Cafe.
Burma Cafe is located in, what else, a strip mall. The mall looked a little run down, with most of the shops looking like this one right next to Burma Cafe.
Burma Cafe was without a doubt the nicest looking shop in the place.
They had just opened for dinner when we arrived, so it was pretty empty. The interior was on the dark side, yet it created a fairly nice intimate mood.
The really nice young lady seated us, we came to find out she is the owner's daughter.
The menu is concise, but full of dishes I wanted to try.
Of course we had to have the Lahpet Thoke, the Fermented Tea Leaf Salad, which is often called the Burmese National Dish.
I realize that the traditional version of this dish doesn't usually include lettuce, but in this case the crispness of the greens really made this a refreshing dish. The mildly bitter-astringent-pickled flavor of the fermented tea leaves, which looked a lot like pesto was really enjoyable for us. The addition of various nuts, beans, and seeds added textural contrast and flavor. The tomato gave the dish a bit of an acid kick as well. I'd have this weekly if we lived in the area.
A while back, I read that kabocha is used quite a bit in Burmese cooking. I thought the Missus would really enjoy the Kabocha Pork Stew.
The Missus, a big fan of kabocha loved this dish....even if it had pork in it. The pork was perfectly tender, soft, but not mushy. I really enjoyed the combination of spices used in this dish, complex, mildly spicy, but not overwhelming. I wasn't such a big fan of the kabocha, I felt it was a bit too starchy and undercooked....but hey, the Missus loved it.
We both enjoyed the ambiance. The young lady who served us was very nice and even chatted with us about how the food was prepared and the spices they use. I wish we had a place like this in San Diego.
Hi Everyone! :) It's Vicky again... blogging about my gluttony up here in the Wonderful SF Bay Area. For some time I thought I fell off the face of the earth!
Taiwan is well known for a type of "sandwich" where a fluffy slightly sweet steamed bun (think a la Peking duck bun) that's filled with a thick slice of stewed pork belly, pickled mustard (suan cai), cilantro, and a sprinkling of ground peanut and sugar. It's called a "Gua Bao" and you can find it all along the streets throughout the island country.
It used to be really hard to find these pork belly buns here in the states but in the last 5 years, it seems like everyone has their own version of it. Momofuku (NYC), Ippudo (NYC), random izakayas here and in the SF Bay Area, there's even a food truck that sells buns like hot cakes named "The Chairman" (play on words with Chairman Bao).
The concept of these buns are pretty easy to make and this past weekend I whipped up a large batch of them using David Chang's Momofuku recipe as inspiration. I brined a large pork belly after removing the skin, roasted it on high heat to render out the fat and then switched to low heat to let it slowly confit in its own juices and fat. Chilled, sliced, steamed some buns, added in some quick pickles, shredded green onions, smudge of hoisin sauce and a squirt of kewpie mayo. Voila! Luscious pork belly buns at home.
No more standing in long lines at the Chairman truck to get my buns...
2-3 lbs of Pork Belly (have your butcher remove the skin)
1/2 c. kosher salt
1/2 c. sugar
1 T 5 spice powder
2 c. water
Mix the salt, sugar, and 5 spice powder together and dissolve in the water. I use the lazy method and toss everything into a large gallon sized ziplock bag and shake. Put the pork belly in and squeeze out all the air in there and let it brine overnight in the refridgerator.
Preheat the oven to 400, remove the pork belly and wipe dry. Place in a roasting pan and roast the belly at 400 for an hour and then turn the temperature down to 250 for another 2 hours. The belly should plump up and per Momofuku, "feel pillowy."
Let it cool down and wrap it in a sheet of saran wrap and chill in the refridgerator so it can be easily sliced.
2-3 persian pickles thinly sliced
Slice the pickles and toss in the sugar and salt mixture. Let it sit for about 20 minutes and then rinse. Do a quick 5 minute soak in fresh water to remove the excess saltiness. Squeeze dry and set aside.
Slice the pork belly into slices and reheat on a good cast iron pan to crisp up the edges, steam some store bought buns, shred green onions, and get the hoisin/kewpie ready. Put a dollop of hoisin on one side of the bun, tuck in the hot pork belly slices, squirt some kewpie on there and top off with the shredded green onions and enjoy!
Hi Everyone! :) It's Vicky again... blogging about my gluttony up here in the Wonderful SF Bay Area. Actually not too wonderful as we're getting another storm pass through.
So my workplace placed us in teams and challenged us to a weight loss challenge.. a "Biggest Loser" or sorts. Before the challenge started, I managed to get one more wonderful delicious brunch in. Being that I LOOOOOOVE Cajun food, we made a trip up to the city to go eat at Brenda's Soul Kitchen. (Keep in mind, this place is in a shady place.... The Tenderloin... and you'll get taunted at as you wait outside for an hour for your table... We've had more than one hobo walk by and go "Man, who would spend 15 bucks on breakfast! You're nuts!" Seriously? I'd spend 15 bucks on my breakfast... especially from Brenda's!
The cafe is a tiny little place; you bump shoulders with everyone around you and you better get there right when they open or an hour before they close at 3PM so that you don't have to wait eons for food. Oh yeah... and out of towners, go on Sunday or have a Handicapped placard cause those meters are sharks!!
We finally settled in and Sam ordered the Andouille Sausage Omelette with a biscuit. I LOVE their biscuits. Flakey... light, buttery, oh so delicious!! It came topped with a smokey cajun-y salsa. Yum!
I ordered their special for that day: Bananas Foster French Toast. OMG it was French Toast heaven... Delicious and completely out of this world... The bananas were tender, well balanced with a hint of rum, and had a wonderful carmelization to them.
Being a Southern cafe, Brenda's also served biegnets. OMG... Biegnets.... Strangely, I hate doughnuts but LOVE biegnets. Something about the chewiness of them just totally appeal to me. Brenda's offers plain, Ghiradelli chocolate filled, cinnamon sugar and apple filled, and spicy Creole Crawfish and Cheddar filled. For those who can't decide, they also make a biegnet flight.. You get one of each!
I guess my days of eating Brenda's is now on hold...
Brenda's Soul Food www.frenchsoulfood.com
652 Polk Street San Francisco, CA 94102-3328 (415) 345-8100
Happy New Year's!! It's me, Vicky, blogging again about the food I put into my mouth.
One of the biggest benefits to moving away from San Diego and into the Bay Area is the endless amount of food options up here. Granted we don't have a great taqueria where I can get my carne asada fix, or that I'm still finding something to rival Din Tai Fung's dumplings, but the food up here is pretty amazing. The biggest find up here is the amount of stars up here. Now I'm not talking about Catherine Zeta Jones or Brad Pitt... but something even more coveted. Michelin Stars. Yup! The Bay Area boasts of plenty of Michelin Stars... including the only 3 star restaurant in the US. French Laundry! I'm still awaiting the day where I can eat there again... with my D300 so I can capture my meal in its wonderful photographic glory!
Last year, for my 21st birthday (yes, I'm still celebrating my 21st birthday... I think we're up to a few anniversaries of my 21st birthday... but seriously, whose counting right?) Sam arranged for a lovely get together at the wonderful One Market in San Francisco. It touts a star so now overall my star count is up to 8... They were wonderful in keeping a large round table for our dinner party and the food there was delicate and well thought out.
I started out with the pea soup, accentuated with crisp pancetta and topped with a soft boiled organic egg. Now keep in mind, I've always hated egg yolks ever since I was a kid. It still baffles me to this day; this egg-yolk hating habit. Evolution has made it so that we crave high fat and rich foods (which explains my endless love affair with butter...) but to this day, I still have a hard time eating yolks. This soup... was perfect. This was the first time I understood why people call egg yolks creamy. We gently broke the egg and mixed it into the soup to create this amazing creamy rich finish. The pancetta broke up the smoothness and added a nice textural balance along with the briny saltiness. Emulsified peas never really appealed to me but the soup was this beautiful beautiful bright green color. Nothing was overlooked here; even the croutons were crisp and well seasoned!
I recall awhile ago when I was living in San Diego, there was quite a bit of controversy about foie gras. I'm not sure if it is still served down there, but it was offered on the menu up here. (Along with at the menus at the Google cafeteria... their Kobe burger with foie gras with a side of Maine lobster tail is amazing!!) In any case, we ordered a side of the foie gras to whet our palate. Oh Mr. Goose... you did not die in vain. The foie gras was seared perfectly; I normally hate liver in any shape, way, form or preparation but I didn't turn my nose down on this one. The foie gras had a perfect creamy consistency, paired with the carmelized hazelnuts and apricot compote, it was one fab dish!
In my family, we grew up eating a lot of fish. Having Taiwanese roots, fresh whole fish is super important to my family. When we have family dinners, there's alway a whole steamed fish which then the chopstick battles ensue to claim the fish cheeks. Yes... fish cheeks. Since fish spend their whole lives bug eyed and gulping, these two highly priced muscles are extremely tender yet firm at the same time. When I saw that they had Halibut Cheeks on the menu... I squealed. I ordered the Halibut Cheeks with Root Vegetables and Fennel Foam. I didn't really quite understand the foam component but the cheeks were amazing! Tender... chewy... and very "Q!"
Sam ordered the Seared Steak on Polenta with Bok Choy and Brussel Sprouts. Again... seared perfectly, but I couldn't really tear myself away from my fish cheeks to eye his dish. When I finally sampled it, it was utter steak heaven. The meat was amazingly tender, flavorful and seared perfectly. The centers were warm and moist and the edges were still slightly crusty from the hard sear. The sauce was a wonderful reduction and the bok choy was cooked perfectly.
All in all, it really showed on how well the restaurant was run. The dishes were very well presented and thought out. The pairings were great and our server suggested great wine pairings. I was pleasantly surprised at how great the service was since they were charging a standard service charge for how large our party was. If you ever find yourself up here in SF, check out One Market.
1 Market Street San Francisco, CA 94105 415.777.5577
Hi! It's Vicky again... blogging again... This time, I'm finally featuring one of my favorite hole in the wall lunch places.
My friend Jennifer introduced me to this gem that's super close to work (since we work together) and it's fairly off the beaten path. I've always liked Mediterranean/Greek/Middle Eastern food, but this hails as some pretty authentic cuisine. I didn't realize that so many places had their "take" on hummus (similar to how Panda Express does "sweet and sour chicken.") Needless to say, this place does a perfect style of the traditional-going-back-to-the-founding-roots type of hummus. Perfectly balanced out with tahini and garbanzo beans, served with a flavorful extra virgin olive oil, it's the balance to my carb addiction. Ahhh... Tartousa... It's truly our mini oasis during lunch.
Jenn and I love sitting in the back patio, soaking in the sun and savoring our long awaited lunch break. This restaurant tends to be kinda slow during lunches but picks up during dinner. Their back patio turns into a quasi-hookah lounge that serves food - often they have music too.
Today for lunch, we both ordered our usual... the chicken daya wrap with Mediterranean pomme frites, and a side of hummus. Behold... the glorious hummus!
Here's another shot of the hummus, with some of the pita bread served in the back. The hummus was perfectly creamy (not gritty like some places), thick, flavorful. It has become our fall back on comfort restaurant for rough day at the office.
Service here can be slightly spotty probably since we tend to sit on the patio and the waitress seems not to check up on us as much as I like. (I still have my camel tendencies and need multiple refills of water.) The upside is that when we just need to vent or talk, we're not constantly interrupted. Shortly after we scarfed down the basket of pita, our wraps came out. Delicious! The chicken was marinated perfectly, cubed and tossed in a creamy garlic sauce and wrapped up in a pita/shwarma bread. Paired with cubed tomatoes and their homemade Mediterranean pickles, it provided the perfect textural and taste balance. Ahhh...
I've always been particularly picky about my french fries. They need to be perfectly crisp and not greasy. Tartousa does a good job. They're cut thick so the centers are nice and mealy, tossed with some salt and paprika, served with a side of ketchup topped with a dollop of their garlic sauce. Delicious!
If you find yourself in the area on the way to SFO for a flight or having some time to kill, swing on by... The food was great!
Tartousa Mediterranean Bistro 514 Peninsula Ave San Mateo, CA94401 650.558.9674
It's Vicky again... blogging away about another restaurant up here in the Bay Area.
Sam and I recently moved in the Bay Area and left the vicinity of this restaurant that used to be a staple-go-to-place. For months we didn't swing by but would occasionally entertain the thought of eating there. Yesterday, bogged down with 18 library books were pushing the deadline for being overdue, we had rushed to my cousin's solo concert at San Jose State to hear her perform for her graduate studies... and still forgot to go to the library. When we got home, we decided to go to Darda for dinner since there was a library branch along the way.
It's interesting... how over time and distance certain cravings become more muted. When I first decided to move away from La Jolla, I couldn't fathom how I would be able to survive with Roberto's or Mister A's. Over time, I whetted my cravings with a taqueria crawl up here and spanning distance, those cravings slowly disappeared. To us, Darda was the same way. Fortunately, it's not a plane ride away. Unfortunately, it meant that we'd have to fight tooth and nail through some really bad traffic in order to get a good meal. Last night was the perfect opportunity.
It was a nice familiar shopping center and we found parking at our usual curbside spot. Walking into the restaurant, Sam had told me that we moved to the Peninsula to be closer to San Francisco, yet it seemed like our dinner variety had greatly been reduced and at the end of the day, we actually visited SF far more frequently than now. I guess that just means we should schedule in more day trips up to eat.
Darda is a favorite amongst the Muslim community here. I remember when I was attending UCSD, and meeting some of my new suitmates, one of them hailing from Walnut Creek (which is an hour northeast of San Jose) we bonded over our mutual liking of the green onion bread from Darda.
Sam and I settled in and ordered our classic staples: Knife Cut Noodles Stir Fried w/ Chicken, Green Onion Pancakes, Beef w/ Scallions, and Szechuan Green Beans... Ahhh... it was glorious!
The beef dish came out first, glistening was flavor and absolutely fragrant with the "high heat wok smell." The beef was extremely tender which leads me to put in a little blurb for how much I love Halal restaurants... their meats all taste extremely fresh and are tender to the bite.
The beef was followed up quickly by the knife cut noodles. Being that we just came back from TW, the noodles weren't as chewy or "Q" as we'd like them to be. They didn't have that much of a bite to them and the thinner pieces were bordering on the mushy side. At the end of the meal we had mentioned this to our server and she advised us to make it a point to order it on the "Q" side in the future and it would come out perfectly.
Ahhh... and the green onion pancakes... they were more like crepes, super thin, yet extremely extremely chewy. It was perfect! Sam wrapped the beef in the crepes and ate them a la burrito style.
I love that they sear the beans with oil at an extremely high heat which results in the skins separating and wrinkling. The beans are cooked with marinated turnip and ground beef and finished with some wine and soy sauce. Delicious!!
I'm starting to drool as I'm writing up my recap. As we finished our meal and walked out with really full stomachs, again... we questioned why it took us so long to make the drive out here after we moved... Darda... oh Darda...
Oh and ironically since I finally did do my TX post... I just booked my tickets to head back to Houston to spend New Year's. More southern eats coming ahead! :)