Sunday, January 29, 2012
Wednesday, January 25, 2012
Which means I might not have said hello to silky, shitake-studded chawanmushi or met one of my new favorite bowls of garlic ramen. But I’m getting ahead of myself here.
Does anyone else use their garage for storage (and not for parking a car?) Ok yes, I happen to be one those people. So this story begins when MFM bought a new car, and after we cleaned it out, started parking his car in the garage when he visited.
However, we soon discovered that the opening and closing of the old, antiquated garage door was causing a huge, disturbing clatter. Enter family friend Pat-strami, who generously offered to help install a new Home Depot-bought garage door opener, which saved me from plunking down almost $700 to hire someone.
So as a thank you, we took Pat-strami to dinner. He chose Miki, a tiny Japanese restaurant in the outer Richmond. I don’t know why I’ve never been here before! It’s tiny – holding 8-10 tables at most – but its compact kitchen churned out some of the tastiest, most reasonable, and authentic-tasting Japanese food that I’ve had in a long, long time.
The aforementioned garlic ramen was rich, hearty and toothsome, topped with tender pork belly and a potent punch of garlic – and was probably one of two or three bowls I’ve had in San Francisco that I’d go back for again and again.
Our appetizers of agedashi tofu, a spicy scallop roll, and seaweed salad were among the best I’ve tasted, and the karage curry delivered the deep-fried, spicy kick it's supposed to. But our table was probably most impressed with the chawanmushi, a smooth, silky dashi-flavored custard that was studded with shitake mushrooms.
Which was special, as it’s a dish you don’t see everyday. Also unique – they serve natto – a sticky, slippery dish of fermented soybeans – if that’s your cup of tea.
We ended the meal with a yummy dessert of fried mochi, red bean and green tea ice cream. It was one of the best meals I’d had in a while, and I’ll happily go back. And by the way, just in case you’re wondering – my new garage door opener, the Chamberlain Whisper Drive, is really, really awesome. I'd recommend that too.
Sunday, January 22, 2012
makes one 9" cake
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
I have a feeling this place may be my new Kenny's.
When I was in college, my friends and I frequented a cafe in West LA called Kenny's. It was always a treat to go there, and after my first bite of a "royale" - a simple, heartening scramble of Asian-marinated meat, onions and eggs served with rice and topped with salsa, I was smitten. Every biteful was meaty, eggy, spicy, and slightly sweet - a perfect balance - and comfort food at its best.
Which is why we were all heartbroken when a city-mandated redesign (you entered this homespun spot by first walking through its open kitchen) proved too expensive, causing them to shut down.
Fast forward more than a few years, to when my friend Ms. Gorgongzola, who knows a lot of great spots in the Bay Area, told me about an old school Asian-infused coffee shop located at the edge of South Park. It piqued my interest. But delivered way more than that.
I’m not exactly sure what a greasy spoon is, but HRD has a lot of that dive-y, diner-y, old school energy (in fact, Diners, Drive Ins and Dives featured this very place last year). Starting with the name, which according to lore, derives from an old Human Resources Department that used to be housed near there.
Whether that’s true or not, there’s certainly a well-worn authenticity about this place. The grill looks like it’s satisfied millions of hungry customers, and the formica-topped counters and stools look almost Edward Hopper-esque.
But the menu is 100% in the moment – without being trendy, if that makes sense. You’ll find typical diner fare – like burgers, omelettes and fries, but the bulk of the menu offers Chinese, Korean and Japanese dishes. Only done with an American slant - like Korean tacos, Asian pork chops with fries, or a sloppy "jojo" with pork and kimchi.
I tried the spicy pork burrito, which was delicious with Korean-marinated meat, kimchi, fried rice, nori, and a spicy bean paste sauce instead of salsa. And their “Mongolian cheesesteak” was a sweet/savory combination of meat, mozzarella cheese and hoisin sauce – a hearty combination I have never quite tasted before.
Ms. Gorgongzola also advised trying the “Crunchy Roll fried rice” – a fiery dish of spicy pork, spam, and chicken fried rice topped with a fried egg – which is a plateful of Asian comfort food at its best.
And that’s the thing about comfort food – if it does its job correctly, one bite can take you back to a moment or place in time. For me, it took me back to my college days and Kenny's in West LA. To royales and coffee and the kind of good times you can only have in those days before life got serious. And that just might be one of the highest compliments I can give.
But be forewarned, just like Kenny's used to, HRD only opens for breakfast and lunch Monday-Saturday, and if you're going for lunch, you'd better get there early to avoid the long lines which snake out the door and down the block.
Sunday, January 15, 2012
Wednesday, January 11, 2012
I’ve been remiss. With posting, that is. Not that it’s a good excuse, but it got really busy at my job and before I knew it, the end of the year was here. So it’s nice to be back! And in the spirit of the New Year, here’s a list of my top 5 Samiwich & Addiecakes moments from 2011.
5. Cultivating a plot in my neighborhood community garden. Who knew that kale, beets and strawberries would grow in one of the city’s windiest, foggiest patches? Granted not in our plot specifically (we’re working on this), but it’s been a fun, inspiring experiment overall.
4. Not that I’m bitter, but last year’s entry into my cousin’s annual Cookie Contest yielded a piddly 4 votes. But thanks to Addiecakes' brilliant recipe, this year I took 2nd place! Her Chocolate Almond Crack (which I changed to “Snap Cracker Pop cookies” since I didn’t think it was nice to say “crack” around the holidays) is just that – uber-addicting and habit-forming. Plus, it couldn't be any easier - it begins with saltine crackers and literally takes 10 minutes.
3. Dear Poutine: You complete me. Love, Samiwich
2. If I had a superpower it would be time travel, and if I could travel back in time and relive one meal this year, it might just be the delightfully decadent dinner at Restaurant Gary Danko. Foie gras, roast lobster, pork belly, chocolate soufflé and the city’s best cheese course - with 5-star service and ambiance, to boot.
1. If there’s such a thing as a Bucket List for foodies, the annual Rib Fest in Sparks, NV should be on it. 5 days of barbecued meats, 24 competitive teams, half a million visitors, and countless puns about meat, butts and racks. Need I say more? Hands down, this was my favorite foodie moment from 2011.