Monday, May 7, 2012

San Wang Restaurant

San Wang sits in a strange juxtaposition as a Chinese restaurant in Japantown owned by a Korean family. It is the strangest, but most delicious combination of food ever. San Wang is known for their dry-fried style of cooking. Their secret dry-fried recipe comes in various forms such as dry-fried chicken, shrimp, beef, scallops, squid, green beans, and eggplant. The chicken is especially popular as they are essentially large delicious fried chicken wings of magic. I recommend trying the dry-fried chicken and shrimp or the beans if you are a vegetarian.

San Wang also offers family-style meals that serve up to 10 people. The fanciest being the Peking Dinner for $159.99 that has an assortment of dishes as well as the much desired Peking Duck dish.

The appetizers aren't anything to write home about. The potstickers take an average of 15 minutes, which is well after all your entrees arrive at this quick turn-over establishment. Plus they taste as if they are previously frozen (the potstickers at Trader Joe's are better). The soups are good especially the Hot and Sour Soup.

Come hungry and leave in a food-coma as San Wang serves up some of the best Chinese food outside of Chinatown. An average meal for two is $30-40.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Credo: A happy hour bust

I have passed Credo on Pine Street numerous times and was really looking forward to sampling their happy hour. I made a reservation online for a table and was happy to get one at short notice. Once I got to the restaurants, I realized why OpenTable was completely open--there was only about 5 customers in the restaurant. We sat at our table.....and sat.....after about 10 minutes we got up and moved over to the bar. The hostess came up to me and said in a snarky manner, "Was there something wrong with your table." I replied that there wasn't but we want happy hour and it seemed that you weren't serving the tables during happy hour. To that response, she scoffed off without responding.

We sat at the bar for another 5 minutes as the bartender finished up making a cocktail for another customer. Once he directed his attention to us, we asked to see a happy hour menu, since we hadn't seen one yet. Much to our surprise, happy hour was over in just a few minutes, at 6pm. The website states 6:30pm, so we had assumed we would have plenty of time to order a drink and a few snacks. Another surprise about their in-person happy hour menu is that about 1/3 of what is advertised online is actually offered. We opted for a cheese plate of 5 different cheeses. It looked great; however, the five large slices of cheese came with 4, yes only 4 mini slices of crostini. Straight away I asked for more bread and was told it would be $1-2 for more crostinis. Fine. The food runner came back with 4 small crostinis which cost us $.50 each. I just don't understand how a restaurant can charge you for bread on a cheese plate. Four slices of tiny crostini is not nearly enough for 5 large slabs of cheese. Until they fix this problem, I would avoid the cheese plate, unless you don't mind spending an additional $10 on bread to eat with your cheese.

I must say, I was thoroughly disappointed in Credo. Although, I only sampled their happy hour, I was not impressed and a bit frustrated when I left. Happy hour should be fun....Don't nickle and time your customers and then not offer the advertised happy hour.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

On the Bridge

News alert: Japanese food isn't just about sushi and tempura. This was a fascinating fact I learned when I visited On the Bridge in San Francisco's Japantown. On the Bridge is a little Japanese restaurant in the Japantown Mall. The restaurant specializes in Yoshuko Cuisine which is the Japanese take on Western Cuisine such as Okonomiyaki Pizza and Mentaiko Spaghetti.

The food at On the Bridge is hands-down delicious. Every item we ordered was divine, even if our mouths were on fire. On the Bridge offers 20 different kinds of Japanese curry. You can have it mild, medium, spicy, x-spicy, xx-spicy, and xxx-spicy. I ordered the medium curry; I don't think I had a taste bud left on my tongue after I finished. I imagine the xxx-spicy to be on a Man Vs. Food on the Food Network. It has to hurt.

Besides the delicious and creative food, the decor in the restaurant brought a smile to my face. The owner put it perfectly when he described it as, "Anime/Jazzy Design Atmosphere." The walls are plastered with Anime posters and the shelves full of plush dolls and other trinkets. We had the pleasure of sitting at the long counter that spans the length of the restaurant. From that vantage point we could inspect all the toys behind the counter, as well as chat it up with the owner and daughter. This is truly a mom-and-pop establishment as the mom said to us when we finished eating, "You ordered too much food, but you ate it all. Good. Good." I felt as if my own mom was giving me a pat on the back.

If you are looking for a culinary adventure and you find yourself in Japantown, look no further than On the Bridge. It was a delicious meal and a fun experience (and I learned a bit about Japanese cuisine).

Monday, February 6, 2012

Sichuan Home

We stumbled upon this unassuming restaurant last Thursday and were extremely happy with that decision. The restaurant was full with tables of mostly young Asian twenty-somethings. The moment we walked in, the entire restaurant went silent and stared at us (clue #1 we are in a good place). The server quickly cleaned off a table and sat us near the door. At first glance of the menu, we realized we had actually found an authentic Sichuan restaurant. A moment of euphoria took over as I remembered the mouthwatering dishes of Sichuan province that I sampled a few years back. I had been looking for spicy chicken just like the little hole-in-the wall restaurant in Chengdu and I finally had found it. I also had my brother with me who has been living in China for the past seven years and fancies himself somewhat of a Sichuan expert.

Between the three of us, we ordered MaPo DouFu, Spicy Chicken (bone-in), Beef with Vegetables, potstickers, and egg rolls. I was blown away with the authenticity of the MaPo DouFu and the Spicy Chicken. My mouth was numb with the familiar burn of Sichuan chili oil and I loved it. The only disappointing dish was the beef with vegetables. My husband ordered it because he is a Mongolian Beef kind of guy and loves American-Chinese food. The vegetables were horribly disappointing as they were the frozen pea and carrot mix that once graced cafeterias across the United States.

The bill was $40 for three people for all the food we ordered. You should definitely head to this little restaurant in the Outer Richmond. You will not be disappointed with its authentic flavors; however, your mouth will be on fire from the chili oil. Yum!

Monday, January 23, 2012

16th Ave Tiled Steps Project

On a clear day in San Francisco, the 16th Ave Tiled Steps Project is a great place to see panoramic views of the city. Located on Moraga between 16th and 17th Street, the 163 mosaic steps soar straight up to the base of Grand View Park (one of San Francisco's highest points). The steps paint a picture of the sea flowing into the sky. A colorful twist of water and sea life swirl up the steps to land with flowers, plants, birds, and frogs and ends with a beautiful sky with stars and even a massive sun. 

The project started as a community effort to beautify the steps and ended up a work of art known around the world. Started in 2003, the 16th Ave Tiled Steps Project along with hundreds of volunteers helped the vision become a reality. Artists Aileen Barr and Colette Crutcher created the unique design of the risers and over 300 community volunteers helped make the tiles and bring the project to life.

The steps aren't only known for their beauty. Many locals enjoy using the 163 as a work-out or a place to sit and reflect. The steps are located in Golden Gate Heights, a quiet neighborhood in the Sunset. They are easy to reach by Muni or by car with ample parking.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Jackson Fillmore Trattoria

Jackson Fillmore Trattoria is a cozy little neighborhood restaurant in the Fillmore District. I recently went there for dinner with two friends. The restaurant's decor is very simple in keeping with the family/neighborhood motif. We were immediately greeted at the door and sat on time for our reservation. A ton of reviews on Yelp complain about the size of the restaurant and the wait for a table. To those people who don't appreciate the cozy friendly neighborhood vibe of this place, you should hit the local Olive Garden. When a restaurant claims they are "cozy", it means they are small, so plan accordingly.

I ordered the Linguini Fra Diavolo which claims to be "a total Jackson Fillmore classic", but sadly I wasn't very impressed. The sauce was nice, but lacked the spice that I usually find in a Fra Diavolo sauce. I was expecting my mouth to be on fire with the devil, but sadly it wasn't. My friends ordered the Zuppetta Di Pesce and the Polla Alla Noci. The Zuppetta Di Pesce was a hit and my friend was very happy with her cioppino-like dish. The Pollo Alla Noci literally disappeared into my friends stomach in 2 minutes. (I think he liked it.) The dish was a boneless chicken breast covered with mushrooms, walnuts, pine nuts, sherry wine and a touch of cream. It looked delicious. If I wan't allergic to nuts, I would have asked for a taste. The waiter was super friendly in that he noticed my friend inhailed his dish and we were still eating, so he offered to bring him some bread to slop up the sauce.

I liked Jackson Fillmore Trattoria; however, I don't know if it tops my list of neighborhood pasta joints. The service is friendly and the price is right. My favorite part of the meal was the complimentary bruschetta for the table. I wasn't as impressed with my meal as my friends were with theirs.

A final positive for the restaurant was that I made a reservation by leaving a message on their voicemail as their service wasn't working properly. I quickly received a call back which was a nice personal touch by the staff. Too often restaurants don't call you back and assume you will call them again, which is just plain rude.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Pearl's Delux Burgers

As we continue the search for the best burger in San Francisco, we stumbled upon Pearl's Delux Burgers last Saturday night. I have no idea how we missed this unassuming establishment for so long. It isn't as fancy as a Sliders or as trendy hip as Umami Burger in the Marina, but it's damn well tastier.

We hit up the Pearl's in downtown San Francisco on Post and Jones. There are two other locations, one in SOMA and another in Alameda. Pearl's has an assortment of standard burgers as well as some out-of the-ordinary choices like the Bomb Burger, an open faced burger smothered in chili, shredded cheese, and diced onions. I chose the mini-burger (1/4 lb.) as opposed to my husband who chose the Delux (Standard) 1/2lb burger. The burger was absolutely melt in your mouth delicious. Pearl's doesn't offer a "topping bar" like Sliders, because the burgers speak for themselves. No need to dress them up. Two points for Pearls also in that they had a bucket of serve yourself pickles on the counter. (Yum) Pearl's also offers fancy burgers like Kobe beef and buffalo meat for almost double the price.

I'd say my second favorite thing about Pearl's besides the delicious burger is that the Post location is right down the street from 2 international hostels. I couldn't figure out if I was in a hostel common room or an actual restaurant in San Francisco. I loved it! Listening to all the hipster travelers brought me back to my good old traveling days. I would probably walk the extra few blocks from our house past Sliders to hit up Pearl's just for the entertaining conversation.