Tuesday, March 23, 2010

2010 Big Eat SF List: #8 Tartine Bakery, #21 Pizzeria Delfina, #35 Bi-Rite Creamery & #100 Ike's Place

#8 Morning Bun at Tartine Bakery

As always, Tartine Bakery always consist a long line...but it's worth the wait. The aroma from the baked goods tends to draw people in.

The morning bun looks like a crispy cinnamon roll covered in a sugar glazed and more sugar. It was crispy on the outside and super sticky on the inside. It was sweet and a bit cinnamon-y. I like it!

#21 Pizza Margherita at Pizzeria Delfina

Delfina's Pizza Margherita is a thin crust pizza with tomato, fior di latte mozzarella, and basil toppings. What made this pizza so good and so different from other thin crust pizza is the tomato sauce. It was very light and surprisingly sweet. I felt like I can eat the whole pizza if I want to because it is so light and yummy.

#35 Salted Caramel Ice Cream at Bi-Rite Creamery

I'd been to Bi-Rite a couple times before for their other flavors such as my favorite, Roasted Banana! As always, Bi-Rite's ice cream is creamy but light at the same time. The salted caramel ice cream at Bi-Rite was pretty good, but too sweet for my taste. I couldn't finish one scoop at all. Other than that, the salted caramel flavor is very intense!

#100 Menage a Trois at Ike’s Place

The line at Ike's Place is unbelievable. Their sandwiches are so good that there is always a line even late afternoon on a weekday. Make sure you call in ahead of time to at least place your order.

The Menage a Trois sandwich at Ike's contains halal chicken breast, real honey, honey Mustard, BBQ, pepperJack, swiss, smoked gouda and Ike's special "dirty" sauce. This is by far one of the best warm chicken sandwich I have. It was soft and warm, very flavorful and very comforting! Definitely worth the wait and I'm definitely eating more of it in the future!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Absinthe Brasserie & Bar

398 Hayes Street, San Francisco, CA

Absinthe is a casual but elegant restaurant. Upon entering, I see a variety of people, ranging from business men who got off work to friends who just want to chill at the bar to persons who dine alone with books. The restaurant was somewhat dim, so I don't know how reading goes, but I found reading my menu difficult at some point.

The service was okay. The server came around once in awhile to check on my friends and I.

Absinthe of course, serves Absinthe, the alcohol. They serve it in form of shot as well as in cocktail. Right away my friends and I stared at the unique drink menu. The combination of liquor in the cocktails are very unusual, I never really seen before. I ended up ordering the Galapagos (pictures above) because I love Darwin! Anyhow, the galapagos is made of "Pisco, Kaffir lime leaf muddled in pepper syrup, lemon-lime juice and a splash of grapefruit juice. Shaken & served up with sunken brandied cherries." I do see finely grounded peppered floating on my drink. It tasted interesting...not the best I had but the most interesting tasting. I also took sips of my friends' drinks...very interesting as well. One with absinthe in it...very liquorice.

Onto the food!!!

French Onion Soup Gratinee

Wow, this is like the best French onion soup I ever had. I could smell it from afar. The soup was very rich and flavorful yet very brothy and light. Hmmm, cheese!

Smoked Salmon with Fennel and Picked Onion, Chive Creme Fraiche and Crostini

The smoked salmon itself was very simple, and nothing too special. Although when you add the sliced cucumber and some fennel on top of the smoked salmon and bread...gosh, it was so good! I think it's because the lightness of cucumber totally mellowed out the overwhelming smoked salmon flavor a bit...good combo! 

House-Made Hot Dog with Guinness Mustard, Chili Ketchup, Sauerkraut and Yogurt-Dill Potato Chips

This was on the 7x7 Big Eat List, and was the main reason why my friends and I went to Absinthe. The hot dog was very soft, the meat was not packed super tight. The casing was very easy to bite apart. The hot dog tasted good by itself, but it was even better with some Guinness mustard, some ketchup, and sauerkraut.

Escargots in Shell with Garlic-Herb Butter and Crusty Bread

I only had escargot once before this one in some other restaurant, and I didn't remember much from it. So I expected this to be chewy like those Asian water snails. Boy was I wrong! The escargot was soaked in garlic butter so it was very, very tasty and aromatic. On top of that, it was chewy at it. To my disbelieve, it was like soft and gooey, like a spread. My friend told me to eat it with the bread, like spread on bread. So good!

Sausage and Cornbread-Stuffed Mary's Chicken with Apple-parsnip puree, Brussels Sprouts, and Cranberry Gastrique

Sausage? Cornbread? I'm down! This chicken sounded very interesting, so I ordered it. I love the apple parsnip puree, it was like a creamy apple sauce. I usually eat brussels sprouts, but this brussels sprouts were very bitter, I didn't like it. The chicken was a bit rough and the stuffing weren't that flavorful.

Oyster Shooter - Chef's Choice Oyster and Spicy Bloody Mary Sauce

I have no idea what oysters the chef chose, but it was might good, considering I don't like oysters!

I poured my oyster into the Bloody Mary...no alcohol in it! But yes, the Bloody Mary was very good, it was spicy like it said, and I like it. I don't like tomato juice; and I remember having Bloody Mary once before somewhere else, and I hate it so much I never ordered it again, but Absinthe's was good...maybe because it's a shooter and not a whole cocktail. Ha!

By the end of the night, my friends and I were stuffed. We didn't save room for dessert. Maybe next time, because I sure will go back to Absinthe...at least for their soups and hot dogs!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Dinning Room at the Ritz-Carlton

603 Stockton St, San Francisco, CA
(415) 296-7465

I took my boyfriend here for his birthday dinner earlier the month. This place was rated pretty well overall in every catagory under opentable.com, thus, led me to choose this over other fine dinning classy restaurants.

The Dinning Room was located at the Ritz Carlton Hotel. It was a very dim restaurant. I could hardly see the true color of my food, but the dim lighting and smell of food stimulated my appetite very well. The noise level was mediocore, which was good because I did not want to dine in complete silence.The service was very, very nice--My water was always full, my finished plates were taken away, my utensils were changed before every single course.

The food was awesome! Gorgeous and elegant white plating presentations! I notice that The Dinning Room likes to pay attention not only to the look and taste of the food, but also the palette and feel of the food. For example, if the main food item on the plate is crunchy, there is always a gel-liked or softer item that is along side on the same plate to balance the mouth-feel. Thoughtful huh? Indeed!

We ordered the tasting menu, which consisted of seven courses and two desserts. Before the start of our courses though, the chef and kitchen gave us some mini starters to help stimulate our appetite and palette.

Grilled Shrimp with Boysenberry Gelee

The shrimp tasted very buttery, nothing too special. The boysenberry was interesting. It paired okay with the shrimp.

Poached Quail Egg with Caviar

This was my favorite plate of the night. The poached quail egg was very creamy and light. The caviar enhanced the taste of the quail egg but at the same time, I could taste both. Love it!

Sashimi of Kampachi with Yuzu Gelee and Blood Orange Gelee

It was supposed to be Blue Fin Tuna sashimi, which I looked forward to, but they changed it that night. I didn't really like the kampachi because the meat is a bit tougher even though it's thinnly sliced. The flavor of the fish was interested after combinedw with the gelee.

Trout with Squid Salad, Black Truffles, Carrot Ravioli and Black Truffle Sauce

This is my other favorite of the night. I expected the trout to be white, but it's a special one from somewhere...I forgot. It is so light yet so tasty! The carrot ravioli was very interesting too. It was like ricotta cheese texture but sweet! I like innovative creations like this.

Stonington Maine Sea Scallops with Shiitake Mushrooms

The scallop was okay. It was a little bit rough, guessing it was a bit overcooked I could taste a lot of butter! Other than that, it was very simple and tasted like others I'd tried.

Lobster with asparagus, red wine braised shortrib, sunchoke puree

The lobster was very yummy. Again, the meat was a bit rough, but it was flavorful considerng lobster is usually more subtle in taste.
Hot Foie Gras with Spiced Huckleberry Compote, Brioche, Pineapple Reduction with Longpepper, Vanilla Salt

Wow! This dish is sooooo good, but sooooo oily and fat! But it's sooooo good! I felt like I was eating duck fat, tender, juicy, tasty! The brioche was grilled and fried so it was super good too, especially when it absorbed all the sauce.

Quail with Ginger-Scented Asian Pear, Salsify, Apple Vinegar Reduction
Kobe Beef with Chanterelle Mushrooms, Roasted Potatoes, Sancho Pepper Reduction

The only time I ever had quail is Chinese style when they roast it or fry it. The one at The Dinning Room tasted similar but way tender. The ginger Asian pear made it even better. The Sancho pepper reduction goes great with it too.

Blood Orange and Chocolate Cake

One word: GOOD!

Assorted Homemade Candies from Candy Cart

Okay, I'm sold...I am a happy camper at The Dinning Room! At the end of the meal, they rolled out a candy cart filled with assorted candies and cookies! My smile gets bigger as the server put more pieces onto the plate. In addition to the variety, they all tasted very, very good!

I would definitely go back to this restaurant any time, but maybe after I save up a bit.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Happy Pi Day! (3.14)

Happy Pi Day Everyone! I spent my pi day running errands and semi-studying for my final. I know, how I miss out on this bright sunny day! Pi pie pi pie pi pie...So in the mist of feeling overwhelmed, I decided to make my pi day better by making pies! Making pies are quite time consuming, with that said, I decided to make quick miniture pies! Pie pops anyone?

This recipe is super fast and easy because it is semi-homemade, which means a lot of the ingredients I used are store bought! But it looks just as fun and tastes just as good as making from scratch!

Choco-Banana Pie Pops/ Miniture Pies

What you need is a roll of pie crust, frozen or freeze, or you can make your own if you are not in a hurry! You would also need a small 1 inch cookie cutter. So roll your store bought pie crust out. Gently, use a rolling pin to roll it a little thinner. The pie pops don't require a thick crust, but don't over-roll it because it will kill the flaky-ness of the crust. 

Next, mash half of a banana. Half a banana should be sufficient for 1 sheet of pie crust. After mashing the banana, mix in a little bit of chocolate syrup. The amount is adjustable to your liking. Also, you can also make it with whatever fillings you like.

After that, assemble the pie pops by putting a lollipop stick onto of a miniture crust. Add a little bit of choco-banana filling, and I mean really little! Do not over add because it will ooze out of the crusts when compresses. Next, place another miniture pie crust on top. With another lollipop stick, "glue" the edge together by gently pressing the tip onto the top edge of miniture crust.

Preheat oven to 375 degree. When done with assembling, spray some oil onto a baking sheet or foil. Place pie pops on top and bake it in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown.

Pie pops can be wrapped with a see through wrapper and ribbons. The miniture pies can be placed in miniture gift boxes as gifts.

I got this one from Martha Stewart's art and crafts.

They make great gifts, as well as treats and snacks, especially for studying!!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Udon from Michi

I was talking to my coworker Michi last week about noodle. She told me she receives Udon from her mom in Japan occasionally. She said the udon was her home town's specialty, and then she offered to give me some to try. Michi said the udon is packaged in way such that it is vacuumed and dry, but not completely dry. I was confused until I saw and felt the noodle myself. I was beyond happy and thankful because I LOVE noodles, and I really want to try this udon that she described.
The noodle came with two different kind of sauce packages--one is a soup base and another is a dipping sauce.

I was excited when I decided to make this for my dinner one night. Upon opening the package, I found that the noodle was dry, floury and soft. For some reasons, even though it's semi-dry, it looks very fresh. The flour dusting is still on it!
According to Michi, the noodle should take at least 7 minutes to cook, and it should be super soft when it is done. After that, I should run it under cold water. I could tell the noodle contained a lot of salt and was super starchy. The cooking water was milky white and upon sampling the texture when it was in the pot, it tasted very, very salty. I ran the noodle under the cold water for long time, hoping the water would wash off my salt and starch.

I was surprised that the finished product looks exactly like this other instant but wet packaged udon package I bought from Asian market. Texture-wise though, the one Michi gave me was chew-ier but not as chewy as the frozen kind.

After I made the noodle, I boiled some water and added the soup base to it. Then I also boiled some napa cabbage, immitation crab, quail egg, ham, corn and peas to form my nutritionally balance dinner.

Itadakimasu! Hmmm! Delicious!

Friday, March 12, 2010

2010 Big Eat SF List: #60 Little Stars Pizza, #61 Golden Gate Bakery & #68 Absinthe

#60 The Little Star at Little Star Pizza

I hear so many good things about this place from my friends about Little Star all the time, thus, I was very eager to take my first bite of its pizza. You know how usually when someone hype up a place for you, it never turns out as good. Well, this wasn’t the case for Little Star Pizza. The Little Star at the Little Star Pizza contained spinach blended with ricotta and feta, mushrooms, onions and garlic. Perfect! It is exactly how I like my deep dish…spinach, cheese and mushroom! The pizza looked very typical, but it tasted super delicious! The amount of tomato sauce was perfect and it had a little spice in it. It was hot, gooey and surprisingly not messy at all (well, I ordered a small). But other than that, I ate half of the small pizza myself, and it was a lot of delicious goodness. Highly recommend it!

#61 Egg Custard Tart at Golden Gate Bakery

I started eating egg tarts from Golden Gate Bakery from way back My mom would usually buy some and bring home. The crust is super flakey and flavorful since lard is one of the ingredients. The egg custard filling was soft, rich and not super sweet. The egg tarts are also bake fresh every couple minutes or so since there is always a high demand and sold out rate per pan. I always see a line outside the bakery, and it is worth the wait. It tastes so good fresh out of the oven. Also, if you leave them overnight, re-bake them and they will taste just as good.

#68 The Housemade Hot Dog at Absinthe

What made Absinthe's hot dog so special? It is house-made! The hot dog is pretty huge for its size. It costs around $12, so it better be good. Indeed it tasted pretty good. The hot dog comes with Guinness mustard, chili ketchup, sauerkraut, and yogurt-dill potatochips. The casing of the hot dog is very thin, so it was very easy to bite through. The meaty center is very soft and easy to eat also. It is very, very flavorful! The house-made baked potato chips also tasted very good. I would order it again if I'm at Absinthe again.

Pacific Catch

1200 9th Ave, San Francisco, CA
(415) 504-6905
My friends and I went to Pacific Catch on a late Monday night for dinner. Pacific Catch looks like an Asian inspired grilled seafood restaurant. I always drive pass it and have always wanted to try it because there are always groups of people inside at this brightly lit corner restaurant. Pacific Catch looks modern and not too pricey but cultural enough to have sirracha sauce bottle on the table!
The service was pretty decent. The restaurant was pretty empty on a late Monday night and the waiter gave us water and brought us our food regularly.
Dungeness Crab & Corn Chowder – Dungeness crab, corn, sweet peppers, potato, bacon and cilantro pesto

My boyfriend ordered the Dungeness Crab and Corn Chowder for his starter. This soup came in a shallow plate sized bowl. The color of the soup was gorgeous! It tasted creamy and crabby, not fishy at all.

Pan Glazed Crab Dumplings – Dungeness crab with Sierra Nevada Pale Ale Sauce

I ordered the Pan Glazed Crab Dumplings. There is actually real crab meat inside. It was very tasty but it was super duper salty.

Whole Dungeness Crab – Dungeness crab pan roasted with shallots, black pepper, butter and garlic noodles complete with bib

My boyfriend ordered the Whole Dungeness Crab. I did not try any of the crab but tried the noodle. I love it. It was not over infused with garlic and the noodle was soft and chewy.
Steelhead Trout (California) – slow-roasted tomato-lemon confit, grilled artichoke, basil aioli & steamed brown rice

For my entrĂ©e, I ordered the California Steelhead Trout. It tasted okay, a bit dry, salty and a little taste-less. I had to eat it with a lot of the sauce that came with it. The portion of fish was pretty small but the portion of rice was too much in comparison; but it’s okay because I need to rice to clear out the saltiness.
I don’t know if I want to go back to Pacific Catch just because everything tasted so salty.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Osha Thai at Embarcadero 4

4 Embarcadero Center, San Francisco, CA
(415) 788-6742
I went to Osha Thai with 12 of my other friends for a birthday dinner on a Saturday night. The service was terrible! My water was hardly filled and they are so eager to kick us out. They gave us the check when people were not even done with their drinks yet. To top it off, one of the workers told us that we need to go because there are people waiting for their tables.
Anyhow, onto the food!
Tuna Tower  - tuna tartare with cilantro, mango, avocado, toasted garlic and Sriracha-sesame sauce served with fried wonton

The tuna tartare was amazing! The tuna, mango and avocado combination was good already but to place them all on a piece of wonton strip just make it super perfect. The mushy-ness of the tuna and fruits and the crunchiness of the fried wonton strip balance each other out and thus, make a perfect mouth-feel and palette.

Papaya Salad - grilled prawns, shredded green papaya seasoned with lime juice, chili, tomato and crushed peanut

The papaya salad was nothing too out of the ordinary. It tasted very similar to other papaya salad I had before, very refreshing as always.

Spicy Eggplant - stir-fried eggplant, basil, fresh chili, red bell pepper with tofu

The spicy eggplant was okay. It was not spicy to me at all, and as always, the eggplants absorb a lot of oil.

Pad See You  - rice noodles pan fried with Chinese broccoli, egg, black soy bean sauce with beef

The Pad See You was pretty good! The noodle is different from all the ones I had before. It was softer yet chewy, kind of remind me of the chow fun you get in Chinese restaurant but more chewy. The noodle was very tasty. I thought it was nice for them to use sirracha as decoration on the plate because you can use it for the noodle.

To top my night off…my friends and I headed to the lounge for a sip.

Pinky Candy - Hangar Kaffir lime, Ginger Candy, Pomegranate juice, Fresh Lime

The Pink Candy tasted very unique. I don’t even know how to describe it, I think it came from the Hanger lime. The drink was too sweet for my taste.
Overall, the food was mediocore but good that there are a large selection. The service was terrible. I will go back a small group of friends wants to but definitely not with a large party. Maybe their other locations are better?