Five or Six or Seven Meals [San Francisco]
In downtown SF this Fri - Mon. One will be a steamed crab from Fisherman's Wharf with a sourdough and a bottle of wine. Restaurant suggestions for the rest? We will be travelling by transit, like all food types, really just looking for great food that SF is known for, it can be something on a bun from a street vendor, to a hip new joint by the latest celebrity chef, or an old standard.
Thanks very much.
My wife, 2adult kids and I spent last Fri-Sat-sun in SF and had several memorable meals, but we all agreed that the best, by ar, was our dim sum brunch at Lai Hong Lounge on Powell in Chinatown. We got here early (between 9:30 and 10) and were seated immediately. No carts at this place; rather, you order off a menu which has the advantage of getting the dishes hot and, for the less popular dishes, pretty much made fresh to order. While we have eaten great dim sum in NYC, Lai Hong Lounge far surpassed all of our prior dim sum adventures. While all the dishes we sampled were superb, we liked these the best:
Har gow (steamed shrimp dumplings)
Steamed custard buns
Deep fried donut holes (not really holes, but more like a popover)
re: Melanie Wong
How's this MW?
As it was right across from our first night hotel, we went to Annabelle’s for a drink at the bar. Noticed a person having the beef carpaccio. It looked so good, we asked him how it was and he said he was addicted to it and had it every Friday. On that recommendation, and being a bit tired from the trip we decided to stay for dinner. Turned out to be a great decision. Mrs Scary and I split the carpaccio, the calamari, and the cioppino. Without going into too much detail (the menu is online at: http://sanfrancisco.menupages.com/restaurants/annabelles-bar-bistro/menu ) they were amongst the best, if not the best we have ever had. The cioppino is incredibly full-flavoured, and with enough spicy heat to let you know there’s hot peppers in there somewhere. We will go back without question, next time. Oh, and the meal, including a bottle of nice Cali chard, tax and 15+% tip was $108, something that makes my cheapskate wallet very very happy.
Next morning to the Ferry Building Marketplace, one of the nicest markets we have been to with a variety of produce and other food items that we do not get up in Calgary. Went to the SF Fish Company and had a Dungeness crab breakfast burrito and a soft shell crab po’ boy, both terrific. Too terrific because there were numerous other offerings (Swan’s and a number of baked goods) at the Marketplace we would have tried if not already stuffed. The Marketplace is a big reason why we will return next year for a week or so and rent an apartment with a kitchen.
Saturday night lined up at Tommaso’s expecting an hour wait with a couple glasses of wine, and lucked out because a lot of twosomes left, and we were seated in 15 minutes. Went on the recommendation of a Toronto friend who loves the place so much he said the next time he was in Vancouver he’d drive to SF just to go there. We had baked clams and a large (on the recommendation of the server) salami pizza. Mrs. Scary liked them quite a bit, I thought that both were good, but certainly not great. If we do go again, I think we’d stick to sampling appetisers like the people seated beside us, they seemed to be enjoying all the appetisers they ordered immensely. Loved the large assortment of “Gentlemen’s” clubs in the area!
Sunday morning to Lai Hong Lounge for another lineup. Had a variety of dim sum including a dish we’d never encountered, coffee pork ribs. The ribs were tasty and interesting, everything else was pretty standard fare. Wouldn’t return. Calgary, Vancouver and Toronto have better dim sum pretty much as a rule everywhere. If you are in Toronto, and crave dim sum, go to Lai Wah Heen,, the most creative dim sum I’ve ever had. The only thing you might not like is the price.
Saturday afternoon to Waiheke Island Yacht Club, a pop-up New Zealand restaurant on Pier 29, open only until December. Very interesting décor, several NZ beers (Napa wines, too bad, should have been NZ, but there apparently were some issues), and some NZ staff flown in to make the experience authentic. Intended on drinks only until we notice an appetizer plate of 3 NZ Coromandel oysters, venison tartare, and salmon ceviche, all very very good. More here: http://www.thedailymeal.com/america-s-cup-new-zealand-cuisine-shines-san-francisco and here: http://www.waihekeislandyachtclub.com/ Would definitely return.
Sunday night to AQ Restaurant. We had transferred to a hotel in the area (never again) We were looking for a bar in the area for a drink and found the area to ne a wasteland of boarded up buildings and crack whores. We were about to give up when we ran into AQ, an oasis in a desert, and as it turned out a very interesting restaurant. Sat at the bar and decided to order a few appetisers, all of which were very creative and very tasty. The bar staff were a couple of very nice guys who we struck up a conversation with. They also tossed in an extra appetiser, no charge. We discovered that the restaurant wants their staff well educated in wines and spirits so the restaurant enrols staff in this course: http://www.wsetglobal.com/ . Mrs Scary and I have taken a few of their courses and know that the staff here will be amongst the most knowledgeable in the city when the staff completes all the courses. My big highlight of the night was a very generous shot of Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Rye, without question the best rye, and with some distance, I have ever had, and rivalling the great scotches of any region of Scotland (sorry to get carried away, but I am planning a trip to Chicago later this year and my major quest will be to find a bottle).
So, that’s it, we will return next year. I want to go to Tadich for the sand dabs, never had any and am looking forward to it. I did look at their online menu though, and didn’t notice them on the menu. If we can’t get them at a restaurant, we’ll pick some up at the Marketplace where we did find them.
Love your city!
Oh, and btw, go down to the Louis Vuitton/America’s Cup Village and have a drink, it is a great afternoon on the pier watching people and those monstrous catamarans, the speediest sailboats on the planet!
re: Scary Bill
Apologies for the delay . . . how was it? Great! Excellent report of your visit, and I'm glad to see that you went off the beaten, most recommended path.
If you hit up Tommasso's again, here's a bit of a guide,
I did make it over to Waiheke Island, and enjoyed it very much, thanks!