Some places to try

Qian and I watch a KQED show, “Check please, Bay Area” every week, where they have three guests rate each other’s favorite restaurants. Out of many weeks of watching, there’s a few that we’d definitely like to try:
* Aziza (outer richmond)
* Memphis Mini’s (haight) (I’ve had takout from here before)
* Da Flora (north beach)
* Millers East Coast West Delicatessen (Polk street)

A few good Restaurants

Some lunch places that I recently went to:
Boxed Food Company (245 Kearny St, SF) A take-out soup-and-sandwich place, which gives you your food in generously sized boxes. Not only are their sandwiches pretty tasty, the include a pretty good salad (with good dressing, and large parmesan slices). Maybe a tad on the spendy side, but definitely worth it.
Out the Door (Ferry building) Slanted Door’s take-out counter, offering a good selection of Vietnamese/Chinese dishes. I’ve tried quite a few things here.. Vietnamese-style chicken sandwich, steamed buns, curry, and they have all been good. Take it out to the back of the Ferry building for a nice view while you eat.
Taylor’s (Ferry building) A burger joint right across from Out the Door. I just went for the first time today, and got their Patty Melt and onion rings. It was a little spendy ($11 total, $7 for the burger and $4 for the rings), but both items were very good, esp. the Patty Melt. I’m definitely going back.
Slow Club (2501 Mariposa St, SF) Wacky Racki took us to this place for Sunday brunch. A trendy looking bare-concrete wall interior, with a full bar in the back. Despite the upscale looks, the food was actually quite affordable (~$8/dish) and quite good. I got the French toast, and the turkey sausage hash that I had a bite of was good too. Also definitely going back there.
Saigon Sandwich (560 Larkin St, SF) A whole in the wall Vietnamese sandwich shop with no seating. The sandwhiches aren’t as good as Out the Door’s, but they’re pretty close, and they’re only $3! If you’re starving, its clearly a more economical choice.

Chenery Park

A place tucked away in the Glen Park neighborhood. Yelp rated it pretty highly, and it did not disappoint. It serves Californian style food with a touch of Southern influence (Lisa got a seafood gumbo) With drink, appetizer, and dessert, the total came out to $40 a head — a reasonable rate for good food in San Francisco.
For appetizers we split an aged French cheese dish (which was surprisingly tasty) and smoked beef Carpaccio, which was decent but not fantastic. I got grilled salmon with mashed potatoes and a chinese vegetable.. a dish that often can come out very heavy, but they made it just right. The salmon was fresh and grilled well, the mashed potatos were creamy without being too heavy, and the Chinese vegetable (which was like spinach but crunchier) added a nice texture and bitterness to the mix.
For dessert, we split an order of the chocolate angel food cake, which wasn’t exactly memorable, but the blackberry-cabernet sorbet that came with it was very good.
All in all, a great find, especially for the price. If you left out the appetizer and dessert, you could easily get away with less then $30.

Ponzu

Ponzu, a joint with pan-asian cuisine which I went to for my friend Andy’s birthday. I had seen it on various rankings so my expectations were pretty high, and this place did not disappoint. Pretty much everything I had their was good, if just a tad on a salty/heavy side. They tend to have very strong flavored dishes, so going with the pinot noir was a bad idea. The things I particularly liked were the crab cake appetizers, short ribs, and duck fried rice. Came out to 55/person across 9 people (we were paying for one), which was reasonable given the amount of drinks that were giong around. Surely a much better deal than Jai Yun for the same amount of money.

Jai Yun

Went to a hole in the wall Chinese restaurant that got good reviews, called Jai Yun. At first site, it seemed interesting.. there was only a prix fixe menu with several prices (ranging from $45/head to $150/head).
The appetizer was encouraging.. 8 small dishes with all tasty samples of various pickled vegetables, preserved meat, and tofu. Follow that, however, were 12 or so tiny dishes. Each dish was perhaps a spoonful or two for each person. By the time it ended, we had spent two hours for what felt like hardly any food.
Afterwards, we were all still so hungry, that we went over to trusty old Taqueria Cancun to fulfill our daily caloric intake requirements, for about 5% of the cost.
It could have been a total catastrophe, but I have to admit, at least the dishes at Jai Yun were good. Some new flavors for me and definitely fresh and quality ingredients and cooking. Don’t expect to leave with a full stomach though, unless you’re willing to throw down.

A trick for peeling a boiled egg.

Maybe I’m just slow, but this always took me at least a few minutes per egg, chipping away piece by piece of the shell.
As I was searching today for the recommended amount of time for boiling an egg (12 minutes for a large in simmering water, 13 minutes for an extra large, btw), I came across a tip for speeding up the peeling process.
After you’ve boiled the egg, you can cool it down but not all the way. Then take the thing and start gently grinding it against a plate. Because the inside is somewhat soft and flexible, this will instantly create cracks all over the shell. Soon, one of them will split, and then you can just put the whole thing under running water and peel away large chunks of the shell. I’d say it takes like 10 seconds total.
Very satisfying.

The ultimate dried mango

If you live in San Francisco and haven’t heard of Rainbow, definitely check it out (unless you can’t stand hippie vegeterian grocery co-ops).
Within you will find the legendary dried mango’s (go towards the back, right before the vegetables, there will be a small fridge section with all types of dried fruits. These are in bin #3185). And beware of the lame, sugared mangos right above it. These just don’t have the same kind of crack laced on them.
These are not the sugar-coated, candy-tasting “mango” slices that your mom gave you. These are real dehydrated, condensed mango slices. No extra sugar, same mango musk.
I’ve managed to get at least 4 others hooked on them. At about 10 bucks per pound, they aren’t the cheapest, but life’s only so long.
As they say, better to have tried and overdosed, than to never have tried at all. Yea, or something.

Food Log: Albona Ristorante Istriano

So we went to the place which JohnZ raves about… or well, at least he used to always tell us about the owner who is very talkative and friendly.
Albona on citysearch.
It’s a small place on Francisco street in North Beach. First, we all split the fried gnochhi and fried sardines appetizers. I went with the sauerkraut stuffed pork loin for my main course. Then for dessert, the four of us split a orange-vanilla crème brûlée and an espresso mouse with brandied cherries. The food wasn’t bad, though JV was somewhat disappointed by his catch-of-the-day Halibut. We all felt, though, that it was somewhat expensive for what we got. Maybe we ordered too much, and weren’t able to appreciate it all.
I guess this place gets props for being unique. I certainly didn’t know what Istrian food was, nor anything about the Istrian Peninsula. The owner was certainly enthusiastic and talkative, but at times I felt he made us order more than we wanted (especially concerning the appetizers).

Deux jours, deux restaurants

Yesterday we went to Chapeau, a small French bistro in the Richmond on Clement street. I got the prix fixe with the filet mignon as my entree. It was the best steak I’ve had in recent memory. Not only was the meat perfect, the truffle-based sauce made it that much better. Other parts of the meal were the smoked trout appetizer (in which the pesto potatoes were better than the fish), the tasting fish (scallop with butternut squash risotto and lobster sauce – the scallop was good but not fantastic, the other parts were great), and the vanilla crème brûlée (which was good but way too much..)
Today was the much more down to earth Chicago-style pizza joint called Zachary’s (in Oakland). About a 30 minute BART ride yields some tasty pizza, though we had to wait a while to get in. It was packed even for a Thursday night. Feel-wise, it was somewhat similar to Grimaldi’s in Brooklyn, but replace the traditional NY-Italian look with a little bit more Californian feel, and replace the thin NY style pizza with the deep dish Chicago style with chunky tomato sauce on top.
I was a bit weary of the deep dish, but I have to say it was really not bad. Maybe a little bit less cheese would have been fine, but the tasty and bountiful tomato sauce was able to balance it out. I topped out at four slices. I think Ramesh made it to five. 5 of us were able to get most of the way through a couple mediums. I’d eat there again, but its a ways to go for pizza.. esp with Arinell’s close by.