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.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

POPOL VUH**' Revisited

This place has been renamed POC CHUC and serves the same excellent panuchos, beans and tortillas as before.

When you've got a cold, nothing hits the spot like soup. The spicier and saltier the better, because all subtle flavors are lost to your cold. Perhaps that is why I thoroughly enjoyed the Mondongo at Popol Vuh. A beefy broth with a roasted tomato base flavor surrounding pieces of tender tripe. The soup gets its flavor from the large bones which look like cross sections of a shank bone, but were lined with a fatty looking protein. As I bit into the slightly chewy gelatinous layer, the server told me that it was the 'knuckle' of the cow. Um, cows don't have hands -- so then this must be cow's feet? In any case, the consistency and taste was almost exactly like pig's feet which explains the rich flavor of the soup. With the addition of half a habanero, some cilantro and onions, I regained the ability to breathe through my nose. Who needs sudafed when you have chilis?

Previous Post on Popol Vuh

16th at South Van Ness

Monday, October 1, 2007

Cowgirl Creamery

Once you've made it to the Highway One coastline, you might as well stop at Point Reyes Station, a quaint (though clearly on the tourist route) two road town for the local organic farmers that is also the home of Cowgirl Creamery. As you wind around the hills of Point Reyes and see the cows enjoying the lush green grass and views of the ocean, you can't help but wonder if happy cows means better cheese. Well, the cheese at Cowgirl Creamery indicates that their cows are indeed living the high life. Housed in a small building labeled Tomales Bay Food Company, the creamery along with a small organic produce stand and the Cowgirl Cantina, has an open viewing area to watch cheesemaking. That day they were making the Red Hawk, one of their very popular cheeses.

Having charged my other companions to get cheese for our picnic, I headed to the Cantina for a mid morning snack. The menu surprised me. You'd think that there would be grilled cheese or macaroni and cheese or some dishes to highlight the product sitting right next to the Cantina. But no, there was an array of sandwiches, salads and charcuterie items. I assume their plan is for you to purchase the cheese and then get some Cantina items to compliment it. I ordered the Ham and Tam, which was Niman Ranch Ham and Mt. Tam cheese with Dijon on a baguette. The bread was decent, though the lettuce was soggy and had a very thin slice of Mt. Tam cheese. Let's just say that I was not impressed. But I'll take the blame, what am I doing ordering a "ready to go" sandwich when I am only fifteen minutes away from a bbq at an oyster farm? Next time I'll just get some cheese.