A Single, Perfect Dish (and a Drink?)
- wittlejosh Jul 26, 2007 04:57 AM
Elsewhere on this board I recently started a thread about cheap chow to explore when I'm visiting San Francisco for a week next week (from Boston). I got a few great responses to my admittedly general inquiry. But those responses brought to mind a related query, perhaps one that's more germane to what I'm looking for:
What are those single, perfect (well...you know what I mean) dishes that are worth heading to a far-flung neighborhood (or not) to savor----even if nothing else on the menu comes close? That sort of dish where you might take a seat at the bar, alone or with a friend, and order that one Transformative Dish, and maybe a glass of chablis or a cocktail? The sort of dish that you can't help ordering every time you're at the restaurant, despite your usual Chow-ish curiosity to try something new every time? It's just that good....
In Boston, for example, some dishes like that for me would be:
(1) Skirt Steak Soft Tacos at Bonfire (perfectly charred, deeply marinated skirt steak slices with avocado crema)
(2) Asparagus "Tartare" at Metropolis (blanched asparagus pieces tossed with olive oil avocado, and fresh basil, topped with crispy fried shallots, and garnished with balsamic reduction)
(3) Shrimp with Yellow Chives at Taiwan Cafe
* * *
Some of the ones I've gotten from the other thread (and elsewhere) for SF are:
(1) Shrimp Fried Rice and Imperial Rolls at Tu Lan
(2) Roasted Dungeness Crab and Garlic Noodles at Crustacean (or Thanh Long)
(3) Belgian frites and Mussels at Fritz
How are these so far? Can you give me a few more? I'm planning to venture out with a friend to sample; they can be cheap or not-so-cheap.
Thanks in advance...
Carmelized broccoli at TWO.
Tu Lan is bad. If you want extraordinary fried rice with shrimp paste, go to Thai House Express, and make it clear that you like shrimp paste. Though it's not the kind of place where only one dish is great.
Thanh Long / Crustacean were that kind of place--you'd look around and everybody had either the crab or the similarly prepared tiger prawns--but they went downhill. Have they gotten back on track again?
Nothing that extraordinary about Frjtz's fries. They're Belgian-style, which is unusual. Haven't had their mussels.
re: Robert Lauriston
Tu Lan's shrimp fried rice doesn't have shrimp paste. It's rice, shrimp, egg, curry powder, oil, and salt. Plus more oil. It's one of the three things that are really great there. the others being the imperial rolls and the bbq pork over rice.
I long ago stopped eating anything else there after many disappointments. But will go miles and expensive bridge tolls out of my way for one or more of those three.
(As a tourist, you should be aware that the place is a bit of a dump and located on one of the worst corners you're likely to encounter during your visit. I find that a positive thing, many people might not.)
re: Robert Lauriston
I'll be the sole person probably to chime in and say, I like Crustacean. In LA, its a hot spot and hard to get reservations so when I moved up here, it was nice that no one really liked it... I could go anytime. I get their garlic noodles and crab. The atmosphere isn't as nice as the LA or LV location but the food is still good to me. Although, other than the crab and noodles, I don't feel that there is anything else there worth going for.
I haven't been to Burma Superstar, but I heard they put lettuce in the tea leaf salad? That sounds wrong to me. I like Mandalay's but I'm not a fan of the chopped, mulch like texture of the tea leaves... Does Larkin Express use chopped or whole leaves?
I read that there's a very good Burmese restaurant in Allston now - from what I read of it, it sounds like it has a lot less Chinese influence than the Burmese restaurants out here - it may not actually be worth it for the OP to eat Burmese in the Bay Area.
That's great that there's a Burmese place in Boston! If that's the case, you're right, the OP can eat there.
In the tea leaf salad at LED, there is some lettuce or cabbage, but not very much at all. Like Robert says, mostly tea leaves. At Burma Superstar, there was indeed lettuce, but it didn't bother me. Overall it was still a very good salad, just different.
For a perfect drink, Absinthe. They're remarkable behind the bar. My personal favorite is the Sazerac.