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SF impressions from NYC visitor

bigjeff Jan 8, 2008 10:40 PM

after having spent 10 days over the holidays in the SF bay area (and forgetting most of it by now), my memory was jogged (and hopefully serves me correct) when reading about salt-and-pepper crabs at R&G Lounge for lunch and then remembering, I was supposed to eat there when I was visiting, but ended up at Jeanty at Jack's instead (something about feeling too tired to walk up that big hill). so then, I remembered that I ate for 10 days in SF and forgot to write about it! and so here it is, surely partial. I only have one-line (almost chronological) impressions, basically.

restaurant peony, oakland - banquet leftovers means delicious roast duck and e-fu noodles (nothing more to it than mushrooms) but so good, esp. straight off the plane.

asian pearl, in mall with ranch 99 market in oakland/richmond, not sure - chinese banquet of sorts: peking duck (served with waiter-mangled buns), steamed tofu topped with some seafood-y sauce, some clear soup w/ chicken and veg served in two vessels, pea shoots with crab topping, yang chow fried rice, (kung pao?) chicken served with fried bean thread in lettuce cups (P.F. Chang-style), clams in black bean sauce I think, and probably a few more dishes but I can't remember; I think we had red bean soup as dessert too / food was good, flavors light on the tongue and greaseless, restaurant was weird (seating outside in the mall?), felt like a traditional family-style cantonese seafood restaurant and they have a huge display of shark fins near the front. best dish was prob. the steamed tofu dish, the dou-miou with the crab topping and the soup; it came in two containers, the meat and veg on a plate and the rest of the soup in almost a tall teapot; weird but good. overall experience, great.

bubble zone on clement avenue, richmond - we only stopped in for drinks, all of which were overly sweet and bad. but my yin-yang (coffee + black tea) had some excellent "bubbles"; great chew in the middle, enough resilience on the outer edge. but way too sweet.

cancun taqueria - carnitas "super" taco and cabeza taco / delicious, and filling. I'd rec the cabez again and sometimes, the "super" is worth it (fresh avo. slices, not scoops of glop). watch out for their house hot sauces. also, eat standing or at least with your sleeves rolled up; majorly saucy meats.

rosamunde's sausages, lower haight - adjoining toronado's, we ordered two duck-with-fig and an andouille for next door; good-ass sandwiches! the duck came two-to-a-bun and topped with sauerkraut and a spot of mustard, minimalist perfection. I went beefy and got the andouille topped with sauerkraut AND spicy chili; maximalist perfection. beers to follow (can't remember them all) but the sandwiches were great; strong buns, nice spice on the andouille.

toronado's, lower haight - such an excellent bar and happy hour until 6pm means $3 drafts of some delicious brews; we had two russian river brewery beers: Pliny the Elder (mad hops), Blind Pig IPA (equally hoppy), Bitburger Pils (clean), and a couple more, can't remember. great place and great selection; rivals, if not beats, Park Slope's The Gate simply for the price.

sanmi on geary - we were headed to assab on geary for eritrean/ethiopian but it was closed, so we found this place (my friends have dined there before) / the general rec was to get the cooked food but then my buddy went and ordered the hamachi platter! at least I snagged a piece (buttery awesome-ness). our server turned out to be the private massage therapist of my hosts, surprise surprise, and her family owns the place so papa was manning the stoves that night (and apparently every night that the restaurant is open, otherwise, not open). my tempura app was to perfection and I decided to get something a bit lighter instead of the chankonabe that just seemed so tempting; my alternate choice of cold ramen (hiyashi-chukka) was the bomb; a beautiful mound of ramen with all sorts of goodies and much better than what I sampled at both rairaiken and saburi in manhattan; other notable entrees at the table included a whole fried sole (the piece I snagged was excellent) and a very classy chawanmoshi.

jeanty at jack's - lunch for two was rabbit terrine, beet salad, escargot, steak tartare, mussels in red wine / delicious, extremely pleasant, classy joint and very much happily surprised, as it was a chance encounter. great food, would rec again for sure.

golden gate bakery - a dozen egg custard tarts / so hot I [almost] couldn't finish that first molten bite, tastes better about 20 minutes after coming out of the oven but honestly, incredible 24 hours later at room temp

papalote, across from UCSF on Fulton - very much a "cleaner" mexican taste and it was meh; the mole chicken burrito was tough, the green chili pork was tougher

Eva's Hawaiian Cuisine, formerly an L&L by the signs and plates inside - we got some takeout: pork with cabbage plate and mixed bbq plate (short rib, chicken and beef) / the pork was delicious smoky, but the mixed plate kicked ass, basically tasting like the finest filipino bbq I usually get at Ihawan in Woodside (Queens), NY but a tad sweeter. and an enormous amount of food (double rice scoops!) for about $8 per entree.

BevMo in Richmond - I know this doesn't count as a restaurant, but I just want to register an official complaint about how much higher the liquor and alcohol taxes are in New York compared to San Francisco

See's Candy - Mixed Nuts and Chews / I know this REALLY doesn't count, but this has to be the best variety of their boxes.

guerneville taco truck, safeway parking lot - a random encounter but the line was so long! and both guys behind the window were mexican! and the 2-meat dinner plate was only 6 bucks! and so I ate the third mexican meal during this trip within a week and it was getting to be overload but . . . . it was good! the lengua was great, the carnitas was great, the stack of 8 corn tortillas was very generous and the fixins' as well, and it tided us over until a very late dinner cooked later that night in our russian river rental

at this point, it was all home-cooking so quickly, in 3 days, we had: white bean dip, cumin bread crumb chicken, fennel roasted with parmesan, squash quiche, gypsy soup, spaghetti squash marinara, sweet potato salad, veg gyoza, ma-po tofu, bleu-cheez pear crostini, polenta with cauliflower, roast veg (carrots, scallions, shiitakes, asparagus), braised brisket (was supposed to be smoked but consider it a save after 7 hours on the grill; mad props to real brisket smokers out there) plus turtle bars, brownies and persimmon bars.

armida winery, sonoma county - we barely made it out of our cabin to hit some wineries (too much Wii and cooking) / after the perfunctory flight of various vinos I picked up a few bottles of Poizin since it was really good, really smooth, strong flavor, thick color

el farolito, 24th street and mission - I picked up a carnitas/al pastor burrito with rice and beans for the return trip (didn't want to buy one of todd english's crap sandwiches on the delta flight) / absolutely perfect about 4 hours into the flight; my poor jealous neighbors on the plane!

damn that was a lot of consumption and understandably, I'm taking a hiatus from rich foods, alcohol and other Bad Things. But I shall return! Thanks San Fran for another week of great eats. Next time, perhaps a trip to SoCal to eat how the other half eats.

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  1. Ruth Lafler RE: bigjeff Jan 9, 2008 10:17 AM

    Thanks so much for the report! I'm curious, as a NYer, what you thought about food shopping in the Wine Country (especially this time of year).

    1 Reply
    1. re: Ruth Lafler
      bigjeff RE: Ruth Lafler Jan 9, 2008 01:12 PM

      well, we drove up to guerneville where we were staying nearby (russian river and its environs) and we basically hit up the safeway, and the organic market just behind it. the safeway was just your typical market really, and we actually bought up most of our produce (bought in richmond or in sunset area markets) so actually, we were only shopping in the area for last minute supplies (wood for the fire, kitchen supplies, etc.). the smaller organic market was nice but, we didn't really need anything. not sure if there were any "family" farm type places, but I would have enjoyed those I think. in terms of a comparison to NY, I'm used to shopping in ethnic neighborhoods (jackson heights or flushing) so I get produce plentifully and inexpensively, but not necessarily organic or whatnot. but never really made a difference for me.

    2. wolfe RE: bigjeff Jan 9, 2008 11:15 AM

      Small correction. USF rather than UCSF for location Papalote

      1. dhoffman1421 RE: bigjeff Jan 9, 2008 11:37 AM

        Very nice report!

        1. daveena RE: bigjeff Jan 9, 2008 04:39 PM

          I love that taco truck in the Guerneville Safeway parking lot - so glad to hear it's still good!

          1 Reply
          1. re: daveena
            h
            Hunicsz RE: daveena Jan 10, 2008 05:49 PM

            Yes, I too love that taco truck. Possibly my favorite lengua around. I hear that they are no longer connected to the restaurant. Can anyone confirm that for me? For quite a while, it seems the food at the truck has been far superior.

          2. Lori SF RE: bigjeff Jan 10, 2008 09:00 AM

            "rosamunde's sausages, lower haight - adjoining toronado's, we ordered two duck-with-fig and an andouille for next door; good-ass sandwiches! the duck came two-to-a-bun and topped with sauerkraut and a spot of mustard, minimalist perfection. I went beefy and got the andouille topped with sauerkraut AND spicy chili; maximalist perfection. beers to follow (can't remember them all) but the sandwiches were great; strong buns, nice spice on the andouille."

            That is quit a compliment coming from NY the home of the best sandwiches. Thanks for your report, wondeful!!

            3 Replies
            1. re: Lori SF
              bigjeff RE: Lori SF Jan 10, 2008 10:44 AM

              ya the buns were actually perfect. like a short hero, so the stubby ends of the sausage peeked out, and the outside was crusty enough yet the inside also had nice crumb and soaked in the fillings while the exterior held it all together with millimeters to spare. great stuff and a steal at $4 and change.

              1. re: bigjeff
                Lori SF RE: bigjeff Jan 10, 2008 11:03 AM

                Glad you got to try it and went to the "T" next doot, both are gold mines. rosamunde's makes a great hamburger once a week too.

                1. re: bigjeff
                  larochelle RE: bigjeff Jan 10, 2008 09:34 PM

                  Interesting. I go a lot less frequently since they changed their buns - six months ago, maybe a year? I find that they often taste..not stale but at least not fresh and sometime old plus they tend to break apart, crumble on me which sucks if its a chili dog.

                  It was the first thing the new owner did - switch the buns, that and raise the prices. They also started cooking the onions even less.

              2. Xiao Yang RE: bigjeff Jan 10, 2008 08:19 PM

                Great report. Did the two-part soup have noodles in it? It almost sounds like a Crossing-the-Bridge noodles dish

                The amazing thing about Toronado is that they've been doing their thing for real for more than 20 years, from when few people knew a Belgian Beer from a Belgian Waffle. I'm curious, how does their selection these days compare to Spuyten Duivil's?

                But for shame, that ain't no hill on that one block from Jack's up to R&G!

                5 Replies
                1. re: Xiao Yang
                  bigjeff RE: Xiao Yang Jan 11, 2008 08:03 AM

                  I like spuyten too but you know, I really like the hoppy beers and the gate had a whole bunch, like hoptimus prime and a buncha others. toronado can't be beat for the price tho; easy to drop a $5 on a $3 drink and still come out under from typical NYC quality brew prices.

                  as for the soup, no noodles at all; it was served with the chicken and some other veg on a plate, and then the clear broth of the soup served in a tall metal teapot-like container with a spout. it tasted pretty light, quite good. not exactly like a ginseng chicken soup but, that style (no herbals tho).

                  as to SFs lovely hills well . . . I think R&G was up and then around the corner or something; actually I'm sure its blocks away, but we walked past Jack's on our way to either R&G, or some vietnamese place which is supposed to have good pho and figured, forget it, don't want to keep trudging up into the heights of lovely chinatown and so we turned back to Jack's, and, it was great. but after the meal, we ended up walking around c-town anyway, maybe to clear the arteries a bit. btw, frites at jacks were not that good.

                  1. re: Xiao Yang
                    Lori SF RE: Xiao Yang Jan 11, 2008 08:14 AM

                    What is the name of that crazy BBQ place across from Spuyten Duyvil? I think its the same owners?

                    That is a good question fro Bigjeff-

                    Spuyten Duyvil had some really rare beers and a more global offering from what I recall and you can get a decent glass of wine. The "T" has some rare beers as well, lots are kept in their cellar which they will bring out if requested or on occassions and they offer all the great beers of California.

                    1. re: Lori SF
                      Xiao Yang RE: Lori SF Jan 11, 2008 08:48 AM

                      Fette Sau?

                      1. re: Lori SF
                        bigjeff RE: Lori SF Jan 11, 2008 08:49 AM

                        fette sau! ya its crazy (bbq by the pound); I like it better than hill country (the other by-the-pound place that opened in the last couple years). good times, not sure if its the same owners tho.

                        ya I had some of the lagunitas (wish they had more), and I've never had those russian river ones which were great.

                        1. re: bigjeff
                          Lori SF RE: bigjeff Jan 11, 2008 09:02 AM

                          yes that is the place!

                          Satinugal might be what you had from Petaluma, CA

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