Boston Hound Report: I finally ate something other than Asian Food
Leopold's: http://www.leopoldssf.com/ - Boston has no German food at all, (no, Jacob Wirth's food doesn't count as *food*), so I was thrilled to try out Leopold's in Russian Hill.
We shared a house made sausage with butter potatoes and sauerkraut - a hearty combination of meaty, carby, and fermented flavors.
I settled on paprika beef goulash with butter spatzle and a green salad while my DC had a perfectly crispy schnitzel. Spatzle was toothsome, but not heavy and the goulash was comfort food at its best. By the way, the salad, while pedestrian, had the most delicious dressing.
One of my coworkers lives in North Beach and swears by the red sauce Italian food at Sodini's. With a group of 7, we tried out this cheap and cheerful restaurant. I had a bowl of tortellini carbonara and while it in no way, shape, or form resembled carbonara, I can see why he likes this place. The service is delightful and for those of us who grew up on American-Italian places like this, it's definitely a throw back.
Osha Thai: http://www.oshathai.com/ is very close to our office and has happy hour - something else I can't get in Boston. Other than every single item being way too sweet, the evening was pleasant.
Long Beach Prawns: Crispy coconut crushed tiger prawns served with onion, peanuts, carrots, and iceberg slaw - actually pretty tasty.
Osha Kobe Bite: Grilled premium Kobe beef served with roasted eggplant and secret caramelized balsamic - stop calling things Kobe beef that aren't. Regardless, a very delicious bite.
Papaya Salad: Grilled prawns, shredded green papaya seasoned with lime juice, chili, tomato and crushed peanut - way too sweet and overdressed.
Tuna Poke: Dice Yellow fin tuna tossed with Japanese seaweed salad, organic Japanese cucumber - raw fish and seaweed salad - yes please!
Ginger Beef: Wok-fried flank steak with ginger, shiitake mushroom, onion, bell pepper, black pepper and white wine - solid stir fry.
Pad Thai: too sweet. Jesus.
I can't find it on the menu, but one of the tapas for happy hour was a perfectly braised piece of pork over a fried plaintain - yum!
Baker and Banker: http://www.bakerandbanker.com/ - What a romantic restaurant! I had been promising myself to finally go to a California farm-to-table restaurant, and this was a great choice.
House smoked trout, potato latke, horseradish cream, pickled beets, shaved fennel - could have used something slightly more acidic or possibly some more salt in the latke, but a bite with each component on the fork was marvelous.
Duck and pistachio terrine, citrus marmalade, pistachio streusel, toasted baguette from our bakery - this was phenomenal. Just totally perfect!
See you again this summer.
Nice report! I'm still a less-than-two-year Boston transplant to San Francisco, so I love seeing what Boston hounds choose when they are in town. I stumbled upon Bake & Banker on a walk during lunch and have vowed to make a visit.
Thank you for reporting back, so many forget to follow up and we're left wondering, hmmm, did they have a good time or ???
And thank you very much for confirming my belief that the Asian food in this area is dumping sugar into the woks like there's no tomorrow! The Korean, Vietnamese, and Thai food has gotten progressively sweeter and sweeter until you're practically eating desserts in different disguises.
I've complained to friends and in reviews that it's getting to the point where if you close your eyes, you can't tell one Asian cuisine from another, because the savory/tart/spicy edges that distinguished these cuisines from one another are being lost under a blizzard of Granulated White Death.
re: Robert Lauriston
Of course they use sugar. Go into the kitchen and watch! Bowl'd uses less sugar than Ohgane, but they still use some. Ohgane and Casserole House are notorious for making their chilli sauces (and half their banchan) sweet. And I don't know of any Thai restaurant that doesn't use sugar in their dipping sauces. A lot of Pad Thai versions are becoming increasingly sweet. Almost all the pickled veggies are made with big doses of sugar.
It's just a question of how much sugar. You can make a teriyaki sauce with some sugar, or a whole lot of it. What I'm seeing is that more and more, restaurants are using the latter because Americans really go for those sweet sticky dishes.
Why else would KFC (and I'm not referring to the Colonel) be so popular? It's not the chile heat, it's the sugar that attracts the palate. The stuff is addictive, and if you're not careful, you forget that what you're eating has lost its balance of seasoning, because it's skewed to the sweet side.
Do your own experiments at home. Make those sauces and basic recipes (none of them are particularly difficult, and yes that means making your own chilli sauce), and try doing it without sugar entirely, then again with some sugar added. Lastly, add two or three times the sugar along with doubling the chile heat.
Sugar and soy (whether fish based or soybean based) is always tasty. But it's not great cooking, whether Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Thai, Viet, or any other cuisine.
The one cuisine that has up till now escaped most of the sugar rush is Indian. Think of a really good, spicy Indian curry, and compare it to its oversugared American descendants in our current restaurant scene.
Osha Thai is sort of a fusion-y take, so I imagine they sweeten their dishes to appeal to the American palate. Other Asian places I've been to - Japanese and Chinese, mostly - don't seem to have that problem. I'm interested in trying a couple of other Thai places to see if I can find one in San Francisco that works for me.