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Report on trip to SF - "The Short Report" - more detailed reviews to follow

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Hi everyone,

We had a great time in SF - I miss your city!

I had a computer virus for a few days and haven't been able to work on my review so I thought I'd give you a quick report on what we liked and didn't like.

The computer virus was caused by trying to go on Motherhome Mandalay restaurant's website - we loved Burmese food so much that I tried to look for a restaurant in Toronto where we could get some Tea Leaf Salad and Balada. The website was down as apparently they no longer maintain it, but when I went to it, I got a virus. Very unfortunate, however we are happy that there is somewhere to go for Burmese food. This is the only Burmese restaurant in the city. I notice that there is a Burmese restaurant in Ottawa as well so if we visit our friends who live there we will be sure to try it.

What we loved:

Breakfast:

Canteen

Brenda's French Soul Food

Lunch and Dinner:
Mandalay
Ferry Building
Aziza
Pizzeria Delfina
Mingalaba (Burlingame)

Snacks:

Tartine

Humphry Slocombe

Bi-Rite Creamery

Knead Patisserie (I dream of eating another mouth-watering Pomme d'Amour)

Places we tried that we didn't love (food was okay, maybe just not what we should have ordered, or to our taste - I will explain in the detailed report):

Limon Rotisserie

Poc Chuc

Lers Ros

I hope to have my detailed report ready soon!

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  1. Wow, it looks like you hit up many of the board favorites!

    1. Please let me know your thoughts on Aziza, hope you got the green farro

      1 Reply
      1. re: Delucacheesemonger

        The people next to us had the green faro. They really enjoyed it - it looked so good!

      2. Can't wait to read your full report, and delighted to hear you liked Mingalaba. I love all the places you loved!

        1. I have to start by saying how much we loved the city of SF. Everyone there was so helpful and friendly – comparable with the kindness that people say they experience on the East Coast in Canada - I am from Nova Scotia originally, so this is really saying something!

          We had some amazing food. Here is the report from Day 1:

          Canteen - I got an 8:00 reservation and although it was a pain to get up early (our flight was delayed so we didn't get to the hotel until almost 1 am), it was totally worth it. I took the server's suggestion and had the rhubarb pancake. It was amazing! The consistency was unique - at first glance you might have thought that the middle was undercooked, but to the contrary it was perfectly done and like no pancake I had ever tasted before. My husband had the blueberry French toast, which of course I tried as well, and it was also delicious. We had coffee for a beverage and it seemed very good. The atmosphere at Canteen is great - it's a very small place with cute little booths, and lots of natural, unstained wood - in particular I remember thinking that the wine rack was neat. They also had bookshelves along the wall by the tables lined with books. We really enjoyed our meal here. I highly recommend making a reservation for weekend brunch here.

          Cliff House - We stopped here for a drink after a long walk in Golden Gate Park and a short bus ride over. The MUNI is great. We definitely got our money's worth out of our three-day passes. I had a glass of wine and the hubby had a Bloody Mary which he said was really, really good. We shared the potstickers, on the server’s suggestion - they were crispy and had a nice flavour. The view here is beautiful (ocean beach and the sutro baths) and the sun came out as we were sipping our drinks! This is definitely a good place to stop for a drink and snack.

          Mandalay - This was our first time trying Burmese food and we loved it! We ordered the following Burmese dishes with the help of our server: Chicken Samusa, Balada, Tea Leaf Salad, and we think we ordered a main but we can’t remember – it may have been the Burmese Style Curry Chicken as I seem to remember our waitress recommending it to us.

          The salad came out first and it was a new and delectable flavour experience for our taste buds. For those of you who have never tried it (I suggest doing it soon), Tea Leaf Salad is (according to Mandalay) “Burmese tea leaves toasted with lentil seeds, ground shrimp, fried garlic, jalapeño pepper, sesame seeds, peanuts and dressing” (lemon juice I believe). The flavours go so well together – everything tasted so fresh and flavourful. The Balada (Burmese crispy pancake) came with a curry sauce and was also extremely appetizing. The chicken samusa was our least favourite – it was good, but it just could not compare with the flavour sensations of the tea leaf salad or the curry dipping sauce for the bread. Maybe the vegetarian samusa has more flavour.

          Aziza – I am so glad that I decided we would eat here. We watched the sunset from Sutro Heights Park and then took MUNI to Aziza. Unforunately we weren’t very hungry as we had already eaten so much that day! We ordered lentil soups, the spreads, the duck confit basteeya and the brassicas (couscous). Everything was amazing with some surprising, yet unique and delicious flavours. I feel like anything you order at this restaurant will be amazing. The spreads were like none other I have ever had. The Tzatziki was the best I have ever tasted. The basteeya exterior was crispy and the filling was a bit sweet, making it almost dessert-like. I told my husband that the flavour reminded me somewhat of my grandmother’s war cake (it also has raisin, but is not made with phyllo). The couscous texture was perfect and the flavour was very good. The people sitting next to us were doing the tasting menu and seemed to be enjoying everything, but they mentioned they were disappointed that a lot of the food was not Moroccan. They had the scallop, which we would have ordered if we had more of an appetite, and my mouth was watering just looking at it. My feeling for Aziza is that there is no bad, or even mediocre, food here – order anything and it will be unique and delicious.

          I almost forgot, they brought us out a complimentary dessert taster, with two of each of some little treats. One was a jelly treat, it was good, but the other two were better (I am sorry I cannot remember what they were).

          As I write this I am actually jealous of people that live in San Francisco and can go to Aziza whenever they like. The service here was impeccable. Our waitress was very helpful and pleasant. Our water glasses never got even close to empty. They served each dish separately which made for a nice dinner – considering we mostly ordered appetizers and they could have brought them all at once. This was my favourite restaurant of the trip.

          A great first, and my favourite, day of eating - I was happy to have done so much research and my husband was quite impressed, and appreciative, of all my planning.

          Coming soon: report from Day 2!

          5 Replies
          1. re: TeacherFoodie

            I live in San Francisco and yet have never been to Aziza--not sure why, as I've long wanted to go. It's getting bumped up to the top of my list after reading your report.

            Looking forward to more!

            1. re: Leely2

              Great place! Enjoy your meal there. Looking forward to hearing what you thought of it.

              1. re: Leely2

                It's a must, one of my favorite places in the city.

                1. re: Leely2

                  Samosa is not their best dish. The Banana blossom and also the ginger salad are a wonder too.

                2. re: TeacherFoodie

                  Hello from former Nova Scotian! The bloody mary report is interesting. It was the Cliff House where my uncle from New Brunswick (on a visit) told me he can always tell the quality of a place from their bloody mary. IIRC, he was impressed with the one at the Cliff House.

                3. Day 2 Report:

                  Brenda's – All I can say is Beignets! We had the sampler and they were so delicious. The crawfish was very different as it is savoury but extremely tasty. A word of caution – if there are only two of you and you order the beignets sampler you do not need to order anything else – we shared the four and also ordered “mains” – it was way too much food! My husband had the shrimp and grits as his main and loved it. I had the scramble with bacon and fried oysters – it was good, but as I was stuffed from beignets I couldn’t dream of finishing it.

                  Ferry Building – We were supposed to have lunch in North Beach or the Financial District but breakfast kept us far too full, so we skipped it and snacked at the Ferry Building instead. We got a baguette at Acme, cheese at Cowgirl, and a meat assortment from Boccalone. We went to the Wine Merchant and sat at one of the tables and ordered some wine and beer to go with our “snack”. The cheeses were delicious – we had Landaff and Jaleggio (or Taleggio). The meats were great too – I especially enjoyed the capocollo. I can’t remember what red wine I had – it was a California one though, and very good. I grabbed a carrot muffin at the bakery on the way out – it was good, but nothing to write home about. We left in time to catch our ferry to Alcatraz.

                  Lers Ros – We went here for a late dinner after the Alcatraz night tour. We had soup, a crispy pork belly dish and a duck salad. I really enjoyed the soup but was not a fan of the pork or duck. I think it was just the wrong food for me. A girl sitting next to us commented that this was now her favourite Thai restaurant in SF, and she had lived in Thailand until the age of ten. She and the guy she was with shared a fish dish and a few other things. The service here was good. If you should decide to go here check out the threads on what is good to eat here first.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: TeacherFoodie

                    so glad you did the Ferry Bldg - and it sounds like you did it right - snacking with a nice wine.

                    sorry you didn't love Lers Ros... the pork belly is my favorite thing there, but i've never had the duck salad. their duck larb is fantastic, to me.

                    loving your reports!

                    1. re: mariacarmen

                      I've not had the pork belly but have always been a fan of the duck salad. It may be a love-it-or-hate-it dish.

                      I also really like those dishes with all the peppercorns. There is no such thing as too much heat for me. My dining companions do not always agree.

                      Teacherfoodie, this is a great report. And yes, you should have tried Nopalito.

                  2. Day 3 Report (our last day in SF, as we spend the rest of our trip in Monterey):

                    Limon Rotisserie – We skipped breakfast as the weather was not that nice and we weren’t very hungry after our two-day food marathon! We ordered a half-chicken with tacu-tacu and sweet potatoe fries, and the ceviche mixto. Neither of us loved the food. The ceviche was not cut up into tiny pieces, which is the only other way I have had it – it was whole shrimps, large pieces of fish and large pieces of Octopus. My husband really liked the tacu-tacu though. I have never had Peruvian before so I have nothing to compare it to – I wonder if I would have liked Inka more (twice the price = twice as good) or another Peruvian restaurant more?

                    Humphry Slocombe – What a cool little place! There was no line as it was a rainy day. I had Secret Breakfast and Chocolate with Smoked Sea Salt. My husband had Jesus Juice and the chocolate as well. It was creamy and delicious! I did find that it left a strange after-taste (perhaps the smoked salt).

                    Knead Patisserie – Oh Pomme d’Amour how I love thee – let me count the ways! This pastry is, as my brother-in-law would say (exaggerate), life-changing! This is totally worth the 3 or 4 dollars it costs. I wish I had bought more for later! We got there just in time (before 3 when they close) and had coffees and shared the pomme d’amour (my husband is more into savoury so he had a bite and I had the rest). THIS IS THE BEST PASTRY I HAVE EVER TASTED! It was like a chausson aux pommes (a pastry I often had the year I lived in France) with a crème brulee on top. I am salivating just thinking about it. I recommend that anyone who goes to SF must try this pastry at Knead Patisserie, and for you locals - I am disappointed in you if you are not enjoying this amazing pastry at least twice per month!

                    Tartine – I did call and pre-order bread on Saturday but we never got a call back, and of course there was no bread left when we got there. I wonder if they should consider a way to order the bread online. I asked the girl behind the counter what was good and she suggested the chocolate ganache cake. It was very moist – great texture. The ganache was very creamy and not too sweet. Probably one of the best chocolate cakes I ever tasted.

                    Pizzeria Delfina – This is another small, cool, little spot. We shared the Salsiccia so that we’d have room to eat dessert. The crust was crispy and the sauce and toppings were very good. I would have liked to try another pizza but we were saving room for Bi-Rite Creamery and Poc Chuc.

                    Bi-Rite Creamery and Market – I had the mint chocolate and my husband had the salted caramel. We both enjoyed our ice-cream. The texture was slightly more “icy” than the ice-cream at Humphrey Slocombe. I also bought some organic peanut-butter chocolates at their market and they were delicious!

                    Poc Chuc – I can’t really remember what we ordered here, but everything was just okay. Nothing special and you can’t get alcoholic drinks here. I wish I had taken the advice of the girl working at Bi-Rite and gone to Nopalito. The food at Poc Chuc is good and the service is okay but nothing about the food “wowed” me or makes me want to go back there.

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: TeacherFoodie

                      Sorry to hear you found Poc Chuc just so-so. I think they have the best homemade tortillas anywhere and find myself having to return every so often for the turkey stew.

                      I have never been to Limon Rotisserie, but I cannot imagine it being much cheaper than Inkas. For a little over $10 you get half a rotisserie chicken with fries (potato or yucca), soup, bread, a drink, and that incredible yellow pepper sauce. It is a great family run place.

                      1. re: Civil Bear

                        You're right, I must have been thinking of the prices somewhere else.

                        1. re: Civil Bear

                          and i'm sure i've said it elsewhere, if not here... Inkas' chicken is the best rotisserie chicken I've had, period.

                          1. re: mariacarmen

                            Maria, if you find yourself in Berkeley, you might want to check out the chicken at Zaki Kabob House. I mention it because I thought Inkas' chicken was very good, but Zaki's edges it out, for me. The rest of their food's very good, too.

                            http://www.zakikabobhouse.com/

                            1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                              i've been wanting to try it. my sister did and said it was good, but she didn't rave. but, that doesn't mean i won't. thanks for the tip.

                        2. re: TeacherFoodie

                          for what it's worth, nopalito is not that great, and certainly not better than poc chuc, so i don't think that was a missed opportunity. :)

                        3. I just realized, and I am extremely late in adding this, but I forgot to say that we ate at Mingalaba in Burlingame on the way to the airport and it was fantastic. We were thrilled to eat Burmese food again before heading out of the city. I wish there was some good Burmese here in Toronto.