Sunday, December 30, 2007


Ice cream in Berkeley at Ici.

Pink Peppermint, nice minty flavor with small chunks of sweet peppermint candy. Interesting color. Candied Tangerine, not a very strong citrus flavor. The candied chunks taste just like the pieces of fruit in fruit cake, but a little too small to add enough interest to this very subtle flavor of ice cream.

College near Ashby

Thursday, December 27, 2007

SEA SALT Lunch**'

Back to Sea Salt, this time for lunch. Started with some cold items, Hawaiian Blue Prawns, Kumamoto, Kushi (?), and Luna Oysters. The Kumamoto had a lightly sea flavored brine with a sweet finish, the kushi had a very salty brine and a creamy texture a little more substantial than the kumi, the luna was creamy and had a neutral brine taste. The kumamotos are still my favorite. The prawns were fresh and cooked well and chilled. A good start. For our mains we tried the BLT (bacon lettuce and trout) sandwich and the salmon and goat cheese terrine.

The trout was pan fried with a nice crispy skin, full trout flavor and topped with two slices of smokey bacon. The portion was substantial even without bread. The accompanying greens were fine, but the coleslaw was a little disappointing. The slaw did not have much flavor and lacked crunchiness. This is something to order again just for the delicious trout.

The terrine of salmon and goat cheese was also disappointing. The smoked salmon was good, but served too cold to show off salmon flavor. The amount of goat cheese was a bit overwhelming and overall the texture of the dish was soft and mushy, it could've done better with a crunchy starch element.

Service was fine and the restaurant is comfortable, light and airy. After an excellent dinner at there, it was nice to find that it also worked well for a casual lunch. I'll definitely return to sample more of the interesting lunch offerings.

Previous Sea Salt Post

Berkeley, San Pablo at Dwight

Wednesday, December 26, 2007


It seems rather odd to me that there is such a dearth of good ramen shops in the City. While visiting a friend that lives in J town we headed to Tanpopo for a quick bite. Not bad. After a couple more trips, I've tried the Karamiso and Ankake Ramens, as well as the Chahan. The karamiso was a spicy broth with good flavor, not overly salty and the noodles were slightly chewy. The soup was good, though the three pieces of cha-su were on the dry side and lacked any fat. The noodles themselves were o.k., but not chewy enough.

The next time I had the ankake ramen, a thicker soup with ground pork and cha-su. This time the cha-su had some fat and was much juicier, however the noodles were slightly over cooked. This was a late lunch, so perhaps they had pre-cooked the noodles for too long. Again a decent showing of ankake style soup, though I prefer the karamiso.

On a ramen rampage, I had recently been to Ramen Halu in San Jose. The ramen noodles at Halu were much better than those at Tanpopo, but the Halu soup was over salted and lacked the depth of the karamiso soup here. So Tanpopo could improve a bit on the noodle front.

Finally, I had a bowl of the cha-han which was light and flecked with smokey bits of dark brown flakes of pork. Good enough to order again, though nothing particularly outstanding. Judging by the tables around us, it is a very popular item.

The lunch menu is a good deal and the place is always busy. The service is efficient, making everything move pretty quickly, so there's no wait for a table.

Buchanan at Sutter

Thursday, December 20, 2007


For my friend's birthday dinner, she said she was in the mood for some pig. Incanto immediately came to mind. Perfect timing because I had just finished a race and felt it was reasonable to indulge myself for an evening. We started with a Pork Trotter served on a piece of bruschetta with a layer of foie gras then a cover of bacon accompanied by poached pears and topped with a savory pork sauce. A ridiculously porky dish and absolutely delicious. The creamy texture of the trotter went well with the slightly caramelized foie gras and salty bacon. The sauce was savory, but not heavy. The pears made a perfect sweet slightly tart counterpoint to the rest of the dish. Definitely something to order again.

The following dish was the
Braised Pork. A huge piece of pork braised so that it was tender and falling apart with a subtle five spice flavored juice. I liked that there was a decent amount of fat within the piece giving it a soft texture. It came on a bed of ramps which had a slight pickle flavor and some mashed potatoes. Perhaps the starter had put us over the top, as my overall impression of the braised pork was that it was good one which I would gladly order again, though not on the top of my list.

Our other entree was the spaghettini, cured tuna heart and egg yolk. The portion was very large and the amount of tuna heart looked like it was too much. It was not, the salty sea flavor of the tuna heart perfectly seasoned the pasta and the egg yolk added body and texture to the dish. The tuna heart had a smokier flavor than the one at La Ciccia, which was also very good. The La Ciccia tuna heart pasta was lighter in flavor and texture, -- more like a primi piatti than a secondi. Incanto's chef did not shy away from the tuna heart at all, I thought the smokey sea flavor and the egg made this very hearty and better than traditional carbonara made with bacon. Another must order dish.

I was impressed with the relaxed atmosphere of the restaurant, upscale though not stuffy. The server was knowledgeable about the menu, gracious and unobtrusive. And having been a regular viewer of the NIC series, I was happy to see Chef Chris Cosentino in the kitchen on a weeknight dinner service. So we got the real thing. Thank goodness for San Francisco.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


A pleasant lunch at Lyang Lyang on a weekend. Having been here several times before, we've already established our favorites: the Sizzling Princess Tofu, Sarang Seafood, and the Kang Kung Belachan.

The Sizzling Princess Tofu are large pieces of fried tofu covered in a mix of seafood and served sizzling in a savory brown sauce. The tofu pieces have a chewy outer layer with soft fresh tofu inside. The sauce matches perfectly with the slightly caramelized tofu and the seafood adds crunch and sea flavor to the dish.

Sarang Seafood is a mix of shrimp, scallops, and squid with vegetables in a bowl made of fried taro. The seafood mix and sauce is the same as that of the princess tofu though there seemed to be slightly less seafood in this one. The best part of this is the fried taro which is light and crispy with a thick layer of creamy taro within. The taro bowl soaks up the seafood sauce making this very rich and filling.

Kang Kung Belachan is the typical kong shin tsai or ong choi or water spinach that is served at many restaurants. Here it is fresh and has a good balance of shrimp paste to vegetable.

We also sampled the
Chow Kuey Teow which I liked very much, but as I haven't had it at too many other places, I can't say if it is a good representation of the dish. The murtebak which I've had at several other places, was just o.k., the filling had a bit too much egg and weighed down the entire dish. I'd probably stick with the plain roti next time. The dipping sauce here better than the places I've tried and the roti itself is not greasy or overly buttery.

My only quibble with the place is that the seafood is most likely frozen. Though it tastes perfectly fine considering the sauces that coat it. Service is quick and efficient. I would come regularly if it were in the City.

DeAnza near Prospect, San Jose

Friday, December 14, 2007


Update: This place is now Poc Chuc.

Just returned from dinner at Chichen Itza, the restaurant formerly known as Popol Vuh. The food was a great value, the overall quality of the food was high and dishes well executed. There are few places in the City, if any, that eight people could eat this well for a pre-tip bill of $16 per person.

The restaurant was kind enough to share a two traditional Yucatecan dishes that are not on their menu. The
roast chicken leg in mole and the tamales colado. The roast chicken was tender, though I felt that the mole was somewhat thick and lacked depth. The tamales colado on the other hand had the texture of soft creamy and very fine polenta -- comforting. The filling was shredded chicken in a savory yellow sauce that had a slight cheese flavor. The flavors blended well with the creamy outer layer, this was my definitely my favorite dish of the night. Unfortunately, they don't make this regularly.

The other stand out for me were the handmade
tortillas. Almost too good to fill with lots of things, just a bit of pork or a smear of bean puree was enough to highlight the fresh handmade goodness.

Also good were
escabeche de pavo, panucho, poc chuc and the extra creamy and savory mashed potatoes that accompanied several dishes.

The only items that were not to my particular taste was the duck, which I prefer more rare and the lamb, which seemed somewhat dry. These were personal preferences not missteps by the kitchen. Service was friendly and eager to please, the food arrived quickly and the overall quality was excellent. Definitely return to try some other items.

16th at South Van Ness

Previous Posts:
Popol Vuh Revisted October 2007
Popol Vuh September 2007

Thursday, December 13, 2007


Lunch at Little Shanghai in San Mateo. An extensive menu of Shanghainese dishes and small plates. After surveying the tables around me, I decided to give the Xiao Long Bao and Water Boiled Beef a try. I added an order of Green Onion Pancake, just as a good point of comparison to other places. The Green Onion Pancake came first and was ordinary, the onion flavor was there, but it was not crispy on the outside and a bit oilier than I like. Next came the XLB which were a decent effort. Much more soup inside the dumplings than at other places in the City, but the skin was on the thick side and the pork filling was plain. The best of the three dishes was the Water Boiled Beef which I ordered extra spicy. It had a nice deep red pepper flavor and was full of beef sliced thick enough to stand up to the spicy sauce, but thin enough so that it was easy to bite through -- an almost silky texture. The pickled vegetables were a good texture contrast, but were somewhat overwhelmed by the strong red pepper flavor, still other flavor elements like garlic came through. I would order this again or try some of the other offerings on the menu.

E 25th Ave San Mateo

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


Lunch at Fresca in Noe Valley. Best items were the Toro Steak Salad and the Ceviche. The chupe de mariscos was on the creamy side and the other dishes were fair, but not particularly outstanding. The potato in the causa washed out the flavor of the ahi. Otherwise service was attentive and the atmosphere comfortable.

Thursday, December 6, 2007


My Salvadorean friend brought me to El Patio a while ago for some pupusas which he said are good, of course not as good as his mom makes. I thought they were pretty good, the outer shell not too thick and doughy with a good ratio of cheese to beans or meat. Made fresh. This time I had the loroco pupusa which was very fragrant, but a little heavy on the cheese for my tastes. Still one of the best I've had.

sopa de menudo was another story. I should've stuck with something from the Salvadorean section of the menu, but I was distracted by the extensive list of other items. Though packed with tripe and tendon the broth was flat, with the look color and taste of powder based soup. I'm sure it's used in restaurants more than I know, but this time it made for a very flat and somewhat salty soup.

I enjoyed the neighborhood atmosphere of the place. The service is very attentive and friendly. I sat at the tiny bar counter. Soon a handful of spanish speaking locals came in and joined me there -- for dinner or a drink and watch soccer or tv novellas. If the place was smaller, it would have an even cozier feel. Will be back for pupusas and to try more of the Salvadorean items.

Mission at Fair

Tuesday, December 4, 2007


Several weeks ago, dinner at Lolo. First off, extremely friendly staff some of whom hail from from Guadalajara the original home of the proprietors. The menu is a mix of the favorites from the couple's restaurant in Mexico with some influence from their Turkish co-owner. The menu is indeed eclectic with everything ranging from heirloom tomatoes with feta, kalamatas and oregano, to pistachio encrusted salmon with wasabi cream sauce to beef tongue with roasted poblano curry.

We started with the panko encrusted shrimp wrapped in jicama with chipotle aioli. The jicama was thinly sliced and served as the tortilla wrapper for the shrimp, the seasoning of the shrimp and the chipotle aioli were right on, but the shrimp were on the small side so they were overwhelmed by the fried outer shell. Not a lot of shrimp flavor, but still very tasty.

Next came my two favorite dishes of the evening. The Octopus Tiradito and the Huitlacoche Dumplings. The octopus was thinly sliced and topped with lime, red pepper powder and a squirt of chipotle aioli. The octopus was fresh and had a nice bite to it. We put the thin slices on bread like carpaccio and devoured the whole thing in about two minutes.

The huitlacoche is something that I had never tried before and was described to me as a corn truffle or mushroom growing on corn. Pronounced 'kweet-lah-coh-chay', it is essentially a fungus or smut that infects corn. The dumpling wrappers were thin and allowed the huitlacoche paste to shine through. It was a smokey savory flavor, so delicious.

For entrees we sampled the
flank steak with peach and strawberry mole, braised beef tongue with roasted poblano curry, and pistachio encrusted salmon with wasabi cream sauce. The steak was properly cooked and the accompanying peach and strawberry mole dipping sauce was savory, not sweet as we had expected. The sauce was unique enough to make me order this even though I normally enjoy steak at home.

The only miss was the braised beef tongue. The meat was tender and cooked well, but the poblano curry had a Japanese curry flavor and didn't match well with the tongue.

The pistachio encrusted salmon was also very Japanese, the crust was light and crispy and the salmon just lightly rare on a pool of teriyaki style sauce. The texture of the crust with the pistachios and the creamy wasabi sauce worked well. This is one I would definitely order next time.

22nd near Mission

Thursday, November 29, 2007


Sometimes I miss the down to earth grittiness of the East coast. Or maybe it's just the greasy mom and pop fast food places I crave?

After a run through the Presidio and Chrissy Field on a gorgeous sunny day, it became clear to me that it was the food that I missed. I headed back to Jake's Steaks. The previous week, I enjoyed a great
cheesesteak with American cheese, but was disappointed by the chili on the chili cheese fries. I wanted to go back to try the cheese fries made with Cheese Whiz. To make more room for the fries I opted to go bunless. The cheesesteak salad was good and a large portion, it had as much steak as the sandwich with about two cups worth of salad greens. The cheese fries were outstanding. Plenty of salty cheese coating the crisp waffle fries enough for two people. Next time I'll order the cheese fries as my meal.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


A birthday celebration for J at Pesce in Russian Hill. He loves seafood and variety so the small plate style fit perfectly. We were immediately impressed with the warmth of the restaurant's decor and service, a nice long bar dominating the restaurant giving it a cozy neighborhood feel. We started with the Merluzzo Mantecato a grilled buckwheat polenta with cod brandade. The flavor of the salt cod matched well with the grilled polenta and was devoured quickly. The texture of the polenta was stiffened by the grilling and use of buckwheat, but we wished there was less softness and more contrast in texture between the cod and the polenta.

Next came the
Polpo a warm octopus, potato and celery antipasta in a garlic vinaigrette. The braised octopus was full of a garlicky briney sea flavor which was also incorporated in the soft potato. The combination of the soft potato the braised octopus, the crunch of the celery and the savory sea flavor made this my favorite dish of the evening.

The Roasted Whole Tai Snapper was fresh and came in a simple tomato based sauce allowing the fish to shine. The fish was filet and deboned at the table which made for a nice presentation. Though dish itself was upstaged by the juicy Merlot braised lamb shank. Our mouths watered as the dark red lamb fall off the bone with the first gentle touch of the fork. I thought the lamb was excellent, but would've like more spice to the sauce. J felt the simple sauce was a good foil to the rich render meat and was the highlight of the meal.

and squid ink risotto with grilled calamari were among the other items we sampled. I particularly liked the squid ink risotto which was thick and had a deep squid ink flavor. I understand that the restaurant is related to Antica Trattoria, which was one of my favorites when I lived in nearby. Happy to find that they've applied much of the same qualities to Pesce.

Polk near Green

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Thursday, November 15, 2007


I usually go to Thai House Express on Larkin when I'm in the mood for some good red curry with duck and other Thai standbys. For some reason the Thai House Express on Castro has never won me over. The food is o.k. but, not as good as the one on Larkin or the Thai Chef nearby. This time I gave the Kao Ka Moo "special pork leg stew over rice" a try. The server described it as a Chinese style braised dish. Hmm. As I learned from Kasma, there are several dishes served in Thailand that Chinese immigrants brought to the country. Out came a mouth watering mound of juicy pork fall off your fork tender and flavored with the five spice anise soy sauce base. One taste and I realized it was the familiar base used in Chinese "lu-roe" and "hong sao ro." This one was good, though the five spice was not as strong as I've had at Chinese places. And there was a fish sauce based dipping sauce which had a nice sour flavor to contrast with the buttery pork. Something I'll look forward to ordering again.

Castro at 19th

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


Dinner at Weird Fish, with some weird service. After waiting quite a while, we were hoping for a good meal. We started with the fried calamari and Yo-Yo's. The calamari had a typical cornmeal crust and had a good ratio of ring pieces to the tentacle pieces to which I am partial. Yo-Yo's were pickles battered and fried with two dipping sauces, one yogurty cream tasting and one tomato based sauce. The batter was tasty and the pickles were good, we polished them off quickly. Good start.

Fish and chips is a deceptively simple dish to cook and one that Weird Fish claims as a signature dish. We had two servings of this and both came out looking quite brown, as if they were overcooked. In fact, they were perfectly cooked, the batter was crisp and not greasy, the tilapia was tender and moist. The batter had good flavor and I suspect that the dark color was due to the batter mixture rather than over frying. Are these the best? It has been a while since I had the fish and chips at Edinburgh Castle (prepared by the neighboring shop), but I think they were better than this version. The one's at Martin Macks and the Pig and Whistle are greasier than these, but a larger portion due to their use of cod fillets.

Chips-wise, I was disappointed, these chips were greasy and not very crispy. To their credit they were the shape and size of the chips served in England. The sweet potato chips were fine, though nothing special.

grilled tilapia and the sweet potato taco were fine. The sweet potato was the better of the two tacos and had some seed (sunflower?) that gave it a nice crunch. The rice had cilantro mixed in and the beans were nothing worth noting. Overall it was a middling effort, but o.k. for the price.

The trout dishes were recommended by our server, the
cornmeal crusted tilapia was reported to be o.k. though the noodles accompanying it were not to my companion's taste.

After enjoying the batter on the fried pickles, we tried for a strong finish with the
fried banana dessert. We were unsuccessful. Between the four of us we were unable to eat even two of the little bananas. They were coated with something that was not batter and the consistency of the banana was actually chalky. The cookie in the middle had no flavor and just tasted of sugar, but the soy ice cream was pretty good.

I appreciate that the prices are reasonable, the menu is vegetarian friendly and that the place has its neighborhood fans. Overall, I was underwhelmed by the preparations. The ingredients seemed good, but the finished dishes unremarkable and even bland. The Yo-Yo's and Sweet Potato Taco were unique and the fried fish was decent. These items are probably not enough to make me return for more, but I'll still have breakfast at
Boogaloos its sister restaurant.

A side note about the service, we waited about forty minutes on a weeknight for a four top and we saw no other people waiting before or after us. After watching a party enter and get seated before us, we came in to discover that the servers didn't communicate to each other we had been put on a wait list and were waiting outside. Disorganized service or perhaps our bad luck.

Mission at 18th

Thursday, November 8, 2007


Just Won Ton is a noodle soup shop located across from some accountants' offices, on Vincente Street in the Outer Sunset. Hot Beef Wonton Noodle Soup and their fried tofu stuffed with pork are the two items I consistently order. It's a Cantonese diner style food with some homestyle rice plates and a neighborhood crowd. The wontons are the best thing they have, with a thin wrapper, a good ratio of shrimp to pork and a nice little pop when you bite into them. The hot beef is actually not that spicy but adds a little hot oil flavor to the broth.

The fried tofu is nothing special, but it's a nice conduit for soy sauce and the hot pickled condiments. Each fried tofu triangle is has a small slit in the middle where they stuff some ground pork to add a bit more to it. This might actually be more successful if the tofu pieces were a bit smaller. The large tofu pieces drown out any porky taste, but still I like their general thinking on the dish.

Vincente at 23rd

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Monday, November 5, 2007


In search of a place to sit down and enjoy a long meal, we headed to El Delfin on 24th Street. The service was very homey and we were immediately given freshly fried tortilla chips. The two rounds of sangria were reported as excellent. We had the molcajete volcano as a starter then two types of shrimp, enchiladas and fajitas. The molcajete (mortar) volcano was bubbling red mortar full of spicy red sauce, fresh cheese, green onions, nopales, and beef accompanied by tortillas. The sauce was spicy and was supposed to be balanced by the cheese, but the cheese was a plain farm cheese which did not add or reveal any depth to the sauce. The nopales and meat were good wrapped in the tortillas, but overall the interesting presentation overshadowed the one dimensional taste of the red sauce.

The restaurant offers several different preparations of shrimp. We chose the
camarones de arbol chile and the camarones de chile chipotle. De arbol chile originated in Mexcico and is popoular in Western Mexican cooking. It tastes similar to it's cousin the cayenne pepper, but had more depth than cayenne. The pepper was cooked with a cream resulting in a creamy red-orange colored sauce. The shrimp were perfectly cooked and complimented by the spicy sauce. The camarones de chile chipotle was also excellent and had the bold flavor of chipotle chilis, milder and more smokey than the de arbol sauce.

enchiladas are a favorite of the one El Delfin regular at the table. He felt that the red enchilada sauce was more flavorful than the other places on Mission and would definitely order this dish again.

Next time, the
camarones de chili arbol and sample a dish that uses the enchilada sauce.

24th and Folsom

Sunday, November 4, 2007

That Takes the Cake**

Cupcakes from That Takes the Cake. The owner is a very friendly and experienced caterer. Sampled three different flavors: Sleepless in SF - chocolate buttermilk cake topped with coffee buttercream -- moist chocolate cake with chocolate chips, the coffee buttercream was a good combo, a very chocolatey and rich tasting cupcake. Bunny Bites - carrot cake with pecans and pineapple topped with cream cheese frosting was good, but the cake was not as moist as at Noe Valley Bakery and the cream cheese frosting was not as sour as I like. Orange Zinger - orange cake with orange buttercream frosting was my favorite, a zesty orange flavored cake and the citrus helped cut the cream frosting so that it was not sugary tasting.

Thursday, November 1, 2007


**Update: This restaurant is now closed**

I've passed New Cheung Hing too many times to count. Somehow their hanging ducks have never enticed me to taste something from their counter of prepared foods. The few times that I have walked into the restaurant, the prepared foods seemed like they had been in the steaming trays for a long time. It just didn't appear as fresh as the food found at similar places on Clement. On a night when I was craving some vegetables, I decided to give the sit down part of the restaurant a try. The menu had a lot of decent sounding items and I quickly zoomed in on the Rock Cod Fillet with Tender Greens. When I asked what the greens were they told me it was bok choy. O.k. that's typical for a Cantonese restaurant, but I was craving something else. After asking if they had anything else, she said no, but then I suggested Kong Xin Tsai (water spinach) one of my favorite greens and she said they could do that. I was a little hesitant because I wondered whether the produce would be fresh. Turned out great. Some nice fillets sauteed in a light garlic sauce with a heaping mound of vegetables, the sauce was light and allowed the fish and the greens to shine. It tasted great and looked so good that the table next to me asked for theirs to be cooked the same way.

To whet my appetite, I started with the Crab with Fish Maw Soup, one of my favorite soups. Their version had a decent amount of fish maw and real crab. Though they might have gone a little overboard with the thickening agent, I would definitely order this again.

The menu shows some very inexpensive family dinners ranging from four to ten folks, which might be worth trying. The place is not bad, the food much better than I expected and the service efficient. I probably wouldn't get anything from their already made counter except for the duck or roasted meats, but wouldn't mind coming back to sample a few more of their freshly cooked items.

Irving and 20th

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


Close to the corner of 9th and Judah is Sandy's a small Vietnamese restaurant with a menu of typical banh mi sandwiches. I went for the combination pork, a steamed pork patty and pork stew on a toasted french roll with pickled carrots, cucumbers, and fresh cilantro and jalepenos. Despite the nice mayonnaise and seasoning, the sandwich was dry, the fillings a little flat compared to those at Saigon Sandwich. Still it was inexpensive and very filling. Next time, I'll try some of their other dishes.


9th and Judah

Saturday, October 27, 2007


Upon the invitation of some food loving friends, I headed to Polk Gulch for brunch. There in the mix with all the Polk Street bars, was Brenda's, a small 'French Soul Food' restaurant. Brenda, the former executive chef at Oritalia grew up in a Filipino-Creole household and started her cooking career in New Orleans. Her menu had plenty of New Orleans favorites such as beignets, gumbo, grits, andouille sausage. And some French items such as a croque and a tartine. The specials board included jambalaya and catfish. We sampled a flight of Beignets, Granola Pancakes, Catfish Sandwich, Creole Veggie Omelet, Hangtown Fry, Cream Cheese Stuffed French Toast. The beignets were a good way to start the meal. Out of the four types, I preferred the crawfish, which were savory and spiced with cayenne. The others were fine, but not as good as the plain ones at Cafe du Monde. Our other starter was the granola pancakes, two giant ones, moist and with granola mixed into the batter. It had the right amount of granola, enough to taste, but no so much as to dry up or take over the pancake. There were a few creamy spots in the pancakes that tasted like vanilla cream, we were not sure whether it was cream or just a slightly less cooked part of the pancake. The catfish sandwich was reported to be good and the accompanying fries were cut McD's style.

Another friend liked the creole veggie omelet and said that the corn inside was well seasoned, so much so that she didn't need to add the hot sauce she usually uses on egg dishes. The Hangtown Fry, an egg scramble with bacon, fried oysters and mushrooms was the best of the entrees. The oysters were coated with cornmeal and fried to add a nice crunch to the omelet. Each breakfast entree came with a good biscuit, salty and crunchy on the outside with a soft buttery moist interior. The pot of grits was a little less exciting, very creamy but far too thick for my taste.

The only failed dish was the Cream Cheese Stuffed French Toast which was from the specials board. The main complaint was that the plain white bread (wonder bread style) was too thin and flimsy to be topped with cream cheese and then doused with berry sauce. The dining companion that had grown up with Southern food said that using plain white bread was how it would be cooked in the South. So, I guess it was authentic, though not to my taste.

As far as the atmosphere of the restaurant, it is casual and cute, but very small. There are about six or seven tables and a counter along the wall for seating. It was full on a Saturday morning and the service was rather slow. It took a while to get coffee on the table, though refills were prompt. I've heard that people line up for the breakfast at Dottie's, this is much better than that, so I can imagine that soon enough there will be a wait on weekends.

Overall, I liked the menu and felt the food was of a good quality. I will return again for the food, but wouldn't wait in a long line for a table. Next time I'll try their oyster po'boy or some jambalaya.

Friday, October 26, 2007


In search of a quick bite to eat on Irving, we headed to Naan N' Curry. Though it had been a while since my last visit, I remembered it as being decent and quick. Well, it was quick. Unfortunately the saag paneer lacked any flavor or spice whatsoever, but seemed freshly made. The lamb vindaloo was oily and full tough, chewy and gristle laden lamb. The daal was fine and I did not have a taste of the chicken tikka masala. The most disappointing item was the samosas, which came to us with a completely soggy and soft outer "shell" as if they had been steamed (or most likely microwaved). The filling was fine, but inexcusable that the samosas were reheated, there were perhaps two other parties in the entire restaurant. In addition to naan, we ordered roti. The roti was terrible, completely burnt, cracker dry and really just seemed like an unleavened naan. I know that this chain makes its curries in bulk and essentially reheats them on the range, but there's no reason not to fry fresh samosas or make fresh roti when the restaurant is relatively empty. Perhaps I've been spoiled by my last Indian meal at Lahore Karahi, but I'll find another place for quick eats on Irving. If I ever return, I'll just stick with the daal and ask for an extra spicy saag paneer.

7th and Irving

Monday, October 22, 2007


The pupusas at Balompie's come in several varieties, unable to remember which ones I liked best I ordered the revueltas, a mix of chicharrones (fried pork) and cheese; and the nopales (cactus) and cheese. Both were tasty, but the nopales was very aromatic worked nicely with the cheese and was all around more flavorful. The curtido (pickled cabbage slaw) accompanying the pupusas was crisp and fresh and had the right amount of spicy kick. The whole dish was much better than Panchita's which was my last pupusa stop, but probably on par with those at that place in the outer Mission next to the church.

To accompany the pupusas and soothe my neverending cold, I sampled the mondongo. After having mondongo at Popul Vuh, I was curious to see if there was a difference between the Salvadorean and Yucatecan styles. The mondongo at Balompie had cabbage, yucca, carrots, corn, tripe and tendon. It had more tendon and less tripe and the vegetables made it more aromatic than the PV version. Despite the addition of the vegetables, I preferred the more meaty tasting broth at PV. In any case, I'd definitely order this again at either place.

18th and Capp

Thursday, October 18, 2007


Driving in the vicinity of Memphis Minnie's, I was hit with the craving for some beef brisket. Lo and behold a convenient parking spot right in front of the restaurant -- it must be fate. It's a place for carnivores, the corn bread muffins are often a little dry and grainy and the only side dish that stands out is the Texas style beans. Still, there's no better place for bbq meat in the city. This time, I deviated from my standard St. Louis Style Pork Ribs and Texas Beef Brisket and went with an all beef plate Beef Ribs and Brisket. The beef ribs never appealed to me before because the bones are so big, it looked like there wasn't much meat. And, like any person that eats at a bbq place weekly, I rationalized that the pork ribs might be a healthier alternative to the beef ribs.

Well, I had no idea what I had been missing. The beef ribs were huge and had a fair amount of meat, more than the pork ribs. They were slightly crunchy on the outside and tender on the inside, similar to the texture of good carnitas, but with a slightly smokey flavor. The 'big bones' as they call them, were meaty enough to stand up to the my mixture of mustard sauce and their spicy Beelzebob's Hot Sauce. By comparison, the St. Louis style pork ribs are more smokey and taste great without sauce, but less meaty. I love the mustard and hot sauce, so I might start getting the beef ribs as a conduit. The brisket was was very good, but soggy. I wouldn't have minded if it was dripping with the juiciness of pork fat, but this seemed watery. I'll have to ask them about that next time, hopefully it was just bad luck.

Previous Memphis Minnie's post

Haight and Steiner

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


Off to SFO to pick up someone only to find that the flight was delayed. I headed to Millbrae in search of some quick eats. The Kitchen was closing up, but Thai Stick, only a block away gladly took me in. The red curry with duck was just o.k. when I asked for them to make it extra spicy, they put jalapenos in it. It tasted fine, but nothing worth returning for. Fortunately this left a lot of room for dessert. The Sweet Crepe with Coconut Ice Cream redeemed the otherwise mediocre meal. The crisped layer of the crepe was the perfect counter point to the sweet coconut ice cream. Despite the fact that the ice cream was a little too sticky and gummy, I devoured the whole thing and confirmed that they serve the same dish at all the Thai Stick restaurants in the city. Next time I'll just go for dessert.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Tartine Bakery ***'

Tartine for lunch - Three Cheese Tasting Sandwich, Frangipan Tart, Ham and Tomato Croque Monsieur. The three cheese tasting sandwich had Bellwether Farms Jersey Carmody, Straus Cheddar and Idiazabal a truly decadent grilled cheese sandwich on crunchy well charred and pressed walnut bread with enough butter to taste, but not so much as to make it greasy. The tart had currants on it which was a nice sweet tart note to the almond paste.

Frangipan Croissant chock full of sliced almonds and almond paste.

Previous Tartine Post

Guerrero and 16th St.