Sunday, February 27, 2011
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
There are so many things to love about this place, which opened a few months ago in a former architectural firm's space, starting with the warm, homey decor and pleasant, friendly service. Then you check out the menu and see simple comfort food with the volume turned up to just the right level to get your attention. Like pancakes with lemon and ricotta, and a fried egg sandwich with artisan applewood smoked bacon and aoili. Even their toasted English muffin drizzled with honey and house made peanut butter sounds special.
I'm normally not a lamb person, but the roasted lamb sandwich was tender and garlicky, and their strawberry rhubarb cobbler made a rhubarb fan out of me. And you must, must, must try the potatoes (recently voted #69 on SFoodie's list of best things to eat in San Francisco) which are hot and crispy on the outside - soft and billowy on the inside. (See photo #7 above for how they start off, my guess is that they are deep fried to a delicious perfection right after this.)
One thing not to love? Well, it's tiny. Which means long waits, and cozy (bordering on cramped) tables parked right next to each other. Reservations are not accepted so my advice would be to go early, like really early - especially on a weekend.
On my last visit, I sat at the counter and watched the two cooks and owner Maxine Siu dart back and forth across the teeny tiny kitchen like one seamless, perfectly oiled machine. I'd give this place 4 and a half sandwiches, 2 thumbs up and a standing ovation, if I could.
Sunday, February 20, 2011
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Which made me wonder about newly-opened Kasumi, who only serves ramen during lunch. I'm not sure if it's a Japanese-custom thing, or a Kasumi-thing, but I do suspect the staff would be richer if they got a nickel every time someone tries ordering non-lunch ramen. Which includes both me & Addiecakes'. In fact, we watched the party next to us get up and leave when they discovered that ramen wasn't on the dinner menu.
They should have stayed. Because the izakaya-style food served in the evenings is fun (who doesn't enjoy eating food on skewers), nicely presented, and delicious. Highlights include bacon-wrapped enoki mushrooms (and who doesn't enjoy bacon), fresh and nicely-seasoned salmon/tuna poke, and a very interesting and delicious broth-poured-over-rice dish called ochazuke.
Luckily, our first visit to Kasumi was during the daytime, and we tried and liked the ramen (shoyu for me, and spicy-miso for her). The soup was tasty (if not a little lacking in depth and flavor as some other ramen spots we've tried) and the noodles had a nice, chewy bite. The accompanying gyoza and chicken karaage were fine, too - though I'd probably try other appetizers on my next visit.
Kasumi is run by the same folks who own Shabu House in the Richmond (one of Addiecakes' favorites) and the service is great. In fact, it was a very sweet and knowledgeable server who kindly informed us that the bamboo vases on each table were receptacles for the neatly storing used yakitori sticks, instead of littering the table, as we had been doing. It was a Homer (D'oh!) moment for sure. Well, now we know!
Sunday, February 13, 2011
Wednesday, February 09, 2011
Also fun, if not a little schtick-y was Max Brenner's at Caesar's Palace. Everything, from the bright dictionary-of-a-menu (with names like Illegal Chocolate Pancakes and After Party Belgian Waffles) to fans artificially wafting in chocolate scents to our server named Hollywood (he swore that was his real name) seemed over-the-top. But appropriate. This is Vegas, after all. Green light: My favorite thing was the dark hot chocolate, served in an adorable vessel named the Hug Mug. Also tasty were the cinnamon apple white chocolate truffle cream French toast and the strawberry-topped waffles.
We also tried Top Chef Master Hubert Keller's Burger Bar in the Mandalay Bay and sampled a variety of burgers from the menu - from classic to fancy to mini (a trio sliders which included natural beef, Angus beef, and buffalo). I can't say it was the best burger any of us ever had, but paired with onion rings, sweet potato fries and a Kahlua shake, it was a fine, hearty meal.
Special Mention: I forgot my camera that day, but the frozen hot chocolate from Serendipity 3 at Caesar's was also a winner. I can't speak for anything else (the sandwich, salad and tacos we also ordered were just okay) but the FHC won't let you down!
Sunday, February 06, 2011
Wednesday, February 02, 2011
But news in the Chinese food community apparently travels fast. And on a recent Sunday, the normally quiet parking lot of the Diamond Heights Safeway was bustling. And atypically full.
After 30+ years in this location, Yeh Wah closed its doors last summer and the word on the street was that because rents became too high. The neighborhood waited with baited breath to see who would take that space. (In a moment of wishful thinking, MFM even wrote a letter to Ike’s Place suggesting he move there after a dispute with his landlord). Eventually, All Season (a Chinese restaurant with one location in the financial district) put up signs that they were moving in. But people were still skeptical.
Somehow, it’s working. It’s probably a combination of the free, easy parking, roomy-and-pleasant (by Chinese tea house standards) atmosphere, and actually good-tasting, authentic food. There were crowds of people lined up by 10:30am for dim sum on a weekend, and I was happy to see a lot of my favorites – like steamed turnip cakes, sticky rice with chicken, and shrimp dumplings being carted around. They even had some more traditional dishes like chicken feet and congee. And everything was tasty.
But here’s the rub - it's not exactly cheap. In Chinatown, or other Chinatown-like areas like the Sunset or the Richmond, you can find cha siu baos for .50 or .75 cents, certainly less than the $1 each they charge here. And a plate of chow mein or fried rice will set you back $12. I guess you can’t have everything. But for tasty and authentic food, the ease of parking, and the luxury of being able to carry a conversation with the people you are dining with, it’s well worth it. Plus, I think it’s a kick just to hear the twang of all those Chinese dialects in a place you’d wouldn't even expect it.