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Mar 30, 2009 03:59 PM

Asian Visitors - 4 Days

My wife and I will be coming to SF from Seattle to meet a young Korean couple on their way to ASU where he will begin working on his PhD. This will be their first visit to the US. I can't think of a more exciting introduction to America than a few days in SF, but because we haven't visited in over a decade I would really appreciate some suggestions. We'll be staying in the downtown area, probably near Union Square, and will be either hoofing it or using public transportation. Food budget will be moderate but not low, casual lunches and dinners, maybe one 'big' dinner ("big' more in view or ambiance than culinary). 'Touristy' suggestions are welcome; we cooked cioppino for them when we were in Seoul last summer and it would be fun to compare our effort with the real thing - still available from vendors on Fisherman's Wharf? We'll probably be strolling Fisherman's Wharf, North Beach, Union Square, Marina, Castro, plus open to other suggestions. When in Seoul they took us to a B-Boy Show and we'll reciptocate with Beach Blanket Babylon. So: downtown area, no car, moderate price, uniquely SF. Any and all suggestions will be greatly appreciated! Thank you.

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  1. For cioppino, try Scoma and/or Tadich. Tadich is old school SF, Scoma is in Fisherman's Wharf.

    Also in Fisherman's Wharf, might take then to In 'n Out burger. They have them in AZ, so you might be helping them get one thing that transfers.

    Other then that, there's the Ferry Building Market to hang out (think Pike's on steroids and very, very updated...artisan foods) and Slanted Door (moderate but on the expensive side, but I think they'd like it.)

    Slanted Door
    Ferry Slip, San Francisco, CA 94111

    Tadich Grill
    240 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

    In-N-Out Burger
    333 Jefferson St, San Francisco, CA 94133

    Scoma's Fisherman's Wharf
    47 Pier 45, San Francisco, CA 94133

    Capay Organic - consolidated in Ferry Bldg #9
    1 Ferry, Bldg San Francisco, CA

    14 Replies
    1. re: ML8000

      ML8000 - Thanks!! The Ferry Building is new to me, but I remember the good meals I've had at both Scoma and Tadich. In 'n Out Burger is a terrific fun idea - I've never been to one and neither have my guests, but we've all heard about Paris' midnight runs! Thanks again - this is a surrogate father/son situation and I'm very, very excited to provide a wonderful intro to America.

      1. re: JKSea

        I don't get the In-n-Out imperative. It's a mediocre burger with a cult following that doesn't travel well outside LA. It's no Mos burger, and a better transition to Tempe would be to take them to a taco joint.

        1. re: JKSea

          If you decide to give In & Out a try - order like an insider with something from the Secret Menu.....http://www.badmouth.net/in-n-outs-sec...

          1. re: gordon wing

            If they're Korean they'll like In & Out. Definitely do the Wharf and the Ferry Building. Also, a cocktails at the Top of the Mark isn't a bad idea.

            Tadich is a great idea.

            No Asian food, no way, especially not korean food. One big exception. Dim sum at Koi Palace. Nothing like that in Korea. They have Din Tai Fung locations, but they weren't very good I thought. Frozen dumplings?

            Zuni is a good idea, but somewhat expensive.

        2. re: ML8000

          I wouldn't recommend Slanted Door to Koreans. Just wouldn't. I'd avoid Asian cuisine completely.

          BBBabylon is in North Beach, which is a great place for dinner and/or drinks/coffee before and after the show. There are lots of Italian restaurants in North Beach. Trattoria Contadina or Sodini's might be good choices close to BBB. Or Tommaso's, if you have time to wait, has a fun, funky vibe and good pizza.

          510 Green St, San Francisco, CA 94133

          Tommaso Ristorante Italiano
          1042 Kearny St, San Francisco, CA 94133

          Trattoria Contadina
          1800 Mason Street, San Francisco, CA 94133

          1. re: Ruth Lafler

            Generally I would agree but think this is slightly different given it's Californicated, fusion, Vietnamese food and they're Korean I think it's less of an issue. If it was (or billed as) Korean, Chinese or Japanese I'd agree. Just like NY'ers, I think they might appreciate the relative lightness of the meal and the space...although they might not. This seems to be a host question with an understanding of their guests. It could be a risk, or they could really like it. I guess the question is If the point is the best of SF, an intro to American food or just fun?

            1. re: ML8000

              Continued thanks for the great suggestions! I neglected to mention that I think it best to skip Asian cuisine. In our limited time I'd prefer to focus on some of the things SF is famous for - cioppino, sourdough, Italian, seafood, etc. Tadich, Trattoria Contadina before BBBabylon, Ferry Building Market, In 'N Out seem perfect. If they decide to stroll thru Castro - is Zuni still around? We'll plan dinners in advance, but I'm thinking I should prepare a list of lunch possibilities based on neighborhood so I'll have a suggestion no matter where we happen to be. Not looking for the 'best' - just interesting and fun. I have no doubt this will just be the first of many visits to SF during the 5 years it'll take to earn a PhD.

                1. re: JKSea

                  In N'Out is not what SF is famous for. It's a Southern Calif tradition. Zuni is definitely still around and going strong. I'd suggest taking BART (subway) out to Berkeley and stroll through the campus of UC Berkeley and have lunch at one of the many places around the campus.

                2. re: ML8000

                  There are *generally* two types of Koreans from Korea food positions:

                  1. Need asian and mostly Korean food all the time

                  2. Want to try a bunch of new things.

                  Most are in category 1. And most I've found are not so fond of fusion unless they've done a lot of international travel or living...

                  That being said, they'll want to go to Pier 39/Fisherman's wharf, and there's something about standing around and watching live crab being boiled alive and eating right there that makes a lot happy.

                  Hog Island oysters with the view would probably make them happy.

                  Remember: beef is quite expensive in Korea, and so is McDonalds. They'll want burgers and probably like In-N-Out as suggested. Beware steak: most steakhouse medium pinkness will freak them out.

                  A bar that they can smoke in or play pool in can make them happy too.

                  1. re: Jumbo_Jack

                    Yes I've heard that and seen it when I lived in the Richmond District. There's a Korean restaurant (Han Il Kwan) that seems to be dead 90% of the time and seemingly lived off bused in Korean tourists. I only went once but only had noodle. It was good but I always went to Brothers.

                    Han IL Kwan Korean Restaurant
                    1802 Balboa St, San Francisco, CA 94121

                    1. re: Jumbo_Jack

                      yes, i agree with Jumbo Jack. I worked for a Korean company here in SF and most of my Korean colleagues wanted to have Korean food when they came here. The younger Koreans were more adventurous and was open to eating more western style food, preferably italian or a steakhouse, which has been my experience.

                      1. re: lucymom

                        Yeah, this is actually true. Sad, but true. Still I think some of the more touristy suggestions here like the Ferry Building are pretty good.

                        Seoul has tons of different types of eateries and so if they're a young couple, I bet they would love to eat what SF is known for, not some of the sad imitation Korean food they would get here, which is not only crappy, but two or three times the price of what they could get at home.

                      2. re: Jumbo_Jack

                        Just in case they get homesick for Korean food, you might want to keep a Korean place as backup. I think there are a bunch of Korean places in the Tenderloin that seem to cater to Korean businessmen. Has anyone tried any of those?

                        I haven't been, but a Korean-American friend liked Namu, in the Richmond.

                3. I love Cafe Jacqueline in North Beach (just wear flat shoes - the walk is nice) for a fun dinner in a niche culinary area. One of my favorite things about the bay area is that there are so many singularly-obsessed restaurants and foodie places. Cafe Jacqueline does souffles (and Jacqueline is the French lady who cooks them) in a tiny place; for four people, you could have french onion soup or a salad, share two dinner souffles, and have a dessert souffle for about $40 each. Lemon dessert souffle is my favorite.

                  Cafe Jacqueline
                  1454 Grant Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

                  1. What days will you be here? The Saturday morning farmers market at Ferry Plaza is the time that is best to go, otherwise it is just ok.

                    A good seafood place in the Castro is Woodhouse Fish. It has a very SF vibe.

                    Scoma's is a good choice in Fisherman's Wharf. Until 3:30 there is a three-course prix-fix for $22.

                    You haven't mentioned the Mission or Mexican. Here's a few lists about places in the Mission. If you click on the restaurant name it will take you to the restaurant record with the website, if any, and linked reports.

                    I used a post by Melanie Wong to put together this SF Mission Murals and Antojitos Walk

                    For more Mission recommendations, here's another list

                    SF - Munching in the Mission

                    In that list, Poc Chuc might be a good option.

                    Here's a list of places that get recommended to vistors regularily by Chowounds

                    First time in SF - Here's where to eat ... or not

                    1550 Hyde in that list might be a nice choice, very Californian and you can take the cable car there from Union Square

                    It is a really, long bus ride, but Aziza is nice and different. Also, the Cliff House seems to have a better chef. You can always take the bus to the Cliff House for a drink and then take the bus back a few blocks to have dinner at Aziza.

                    Here's some guidance to breakfast places around Union Square

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: rworange

                      Aziza is a bad idea. I am willing to bet they won't "get it", at least judging from the restaurants I saw in Seoul.

                      In fact, I wouldn't take them to any of the places on rworange's list (sorry gal, but just my 2 cents here). They just won't "get it". Especially not Poc Chuc. They won't get the Mission, period.

                      They might like House of Prime Rib.

                      1. re: choctastic

                        Yeah, I think Aziza is a particularly bad idea. It's a completely different flavor palate. Even a lot of people raised on European-derived cuisines don't like the Moroccan flavor palate. Someone from Korea unless they are *very* chowish would probably hate it.