Monthly Archives: January 2014

Asian Persuasion

In the form of Vietnamese vermicelli noodles.

Tin’s Vietnamese Restaurant was the first restaurant I’ve been to in the SOMA region of San Francisco, excluding Denny’s (do not ask me why I was at that ridiculously overpriced Denny’s). Before Tin’s, I had only been to two other Vietnamese restaurants and while they were in the spectrum of alright to good, none of them blew me away like the Bun Thit Nuong did in Tin’s Vietnamese Restaurant.

Bun Thit Nuong is their grilled lemongrass pork shoulder vermicelli rice bowl and I loved it. Being a Chinese, it is nearly blasphemous for me to confess that I do not share the same fervor that most Chinese people have for pork. From time to time, I would order a pork dish, only to regret not getting the chicken or beef. This dish, however, was an exception.

Bun Thit Nuong @ Tin’s Vietnamese Cuisine, SOMA

Bun Thit Nuong

The meat was so juicy and tender, and did not have the characteristic scent that often accompanies pork. I heard that the phos in this restaurant are pretty great too but I have recently developed a taste for  vermicelli bowls without broth over phos in the last few months. There is something about the vermicelli bowls — probably the cold noodles —  that give them a fresher and cleaner taste.

Here is the Hu Tieu, I think. Soup noodle with ground meat, shrimps and possibly fish cake and chicken. It was decent but it’s got nothing on them pork shoulders.

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 Tin’s Vietnamese Restaurant is a little pricey for Vietnamese food but it’s not every day that I actually enjoy eating pork or meat.

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On Mission

When it comes to finding good food in San Francisco, Mission has yet to fail me. I have only relatively recently started branching out into the food scene in this part of the city more and here’s my latest scoop:

Humphry Slocombe 

Humphrey Slocombe

On a mission to try one of the city’s most popular ice cream, I made my way to Humphry Slocombe. I shunned the popular Secret Breakfast consisting of cereal and bourbon, and opted for Tahitian vanilla and Blue Bottle Vietnamese coffee instead. The Blue Bottle Vietnamese coffee’s pretty good and will most likely be my flavor of choice if I were to come back again. However, I will probably not because on the Humphry-Slocombe-or-Bi-Rite-Creamery debate, I am definitely leaning more strongly towards Bi-Rite Creamery.

While Humphry Slocombe has more interesting flavors, it was relatively hard for me to find flavors that I really wanted besides the Blue Bottle. Ice cream quality aside, I am also more likely to go to Bi-Rite Creamery because it is a little more accessible for someone without a car and has the beautiful Dolores Park just round the block.

When I think of Mission, I think of Mexican food amongst other things. Pancho Villa Taqueria, a very short walk from the BART station for which I was grateful for, has quite the extensive menu. I was absolutely spoilt for choice and it took us a while to decide on the carne asada nachos and the ceviche taco.

Pancho Villa Taqueria @ 16th Mission

Carne Asada Bowl

 The carne asada nachos were great. Gotta love all that guacamole…and cheese and sour cream that went to my hips. So I ordered ceviche taco too without knowing ceviche was, living my illusion as an adventurous eater. Little did I know that raw mashed-up fish is not quite up my alley. To those who like ceviche, you would have probably enjoyed this taco.

Ceviche Taco

For a girl whose main purpose of going to San Francisco is hit the stores in Powell, Mission is kind of out of the way. But if I do so happen to be in San Francisco, and craving for some good Mexican food, and some ice cream too, I may make that extra BART stop. My future mission would also include checking out the Mexican bakeries with their oh-so-colorful pastries, and to revisit Tartine Bakery.

Sugar Rush in New York

New York is a sweet city in the literal sense. With so many bakeries with gorgeous edible displays on their windows, it is hard for any sweet-toothed girl to not fall in love with this place. Here are some of the city’s sweet spots:

1) Lady M
Strongly recommended by friends who have visited the city. Strangely enough, most of the patrons at the time I went were Asians. If you are a least bit lactose intolerant, run away from the mille crepe. Far, far away.

2) Laduree

Nested in Upper East Side, it is easy to see why many girls love Laduree. Not only does Laduree boast of its wide selection of high quality macarons, the store itself has a very quaint and elegant vibe and the packaging is just beautiful.

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Laduree is often compared to another leading macaron manufacturer, Pierre Herme. Having finally had Laduree, I have to say that I am a bigger fan of Pierre Herme. Laduree is possibly overrated and I feel that Chantal Guillon in the San Francisco Bay Area is a strong contender to Laduree.

3) Shake Shack’s Frozen Custard

Good stuff but too sweet for my liking. Just like for the burger, I would not wait half an hour for this.

4) Mo Gelato

This gelato store in Little Italy has the best gelato I have ever had in my life. The gelato was incredibly smooth and light, and the store had so many flavors that I did not know where to start. Pretty pricey but well worth the price for the quality you get. My only complain is that they only let you sample at most two flavors, which makes it nearly impossible to decide which ones to try.

5) Magnolia Bakery

Love the banana bread pudding! I have to admit that it is very sweet though, and that I had to eat only a few scoops at a time, done guiltily for breakfast.

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Here are some other sweet goodies I have seen in the city but dared not eat, especially with the amount of sugar already in my system:

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Eating the Big Apple

When I plotted a graph of my monthly food expenditures for the past year, a friend noticed a spike in the month of July and asked, “Was that when you went to New York?”. He was spot on. My friends and I had some pretty decent meals to say the least and here are some of the more memorable ones we had:

1) Shake Shack
During this second trip to New York, I had time to check out Shake Shack in Leicester Square. The square itself is a pretty sweet location to just sit on the bench and chill with your friends (and maybe some squirrels) while you devour that hard-earned Shake Shack burger, a trophy from your 30 minutes of waiting.

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Verdict? Pretty good. However, it has yet to usurp In N Out from its throne in my heart.  Maybe I’m too impatient to wait that long for a burger, or maybe I’m just biased towards the west coast. My friend absolutely fell in love with Shake Shack though and was extremely eager to make another visit to this establishment.

2) The Halal Guys
Yay to vendor food! Its location made it an ideal lunch stop before my visit to the Museum of Modern Art.
Long line? Yes. Overrated? Maybe. Bang for your buck? Absolutely. For $6, you get a chicken rice plate that is worth two meals (or one very satisfying meal if you have a hearty appetite).

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My recommendation comes with two warnings though:
1) The hot sauce is the spiciest shit. And you know that I am dead serious because I rarely use expletives to describe things and least of all, food.
2) One bowl is rumored to be roughly equivalent to 2000 calories. It is up to you what to do with this information…

3) Ippudo Ramen
My friend and I walked into this restaurant at an odd hour for lunch, about 3PM, and successfully avoided the long line that I’ve heard can go up to 2 hours. We were instantly seated and I proceeded to ordering my first twenty dollar bowl of ramen in my life.

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A little skimpy with ingredients, but the noodle and broth were great. My favorite was actually the egg, half-boiled to perfection.

4) John’s Pizzeria
I used to believe that restaurants within the vicinity of main tourist attractions are tourist traps with mediocre food. For a place nested pretty close to Times Square, this restaurant sure has fine pizza. Absolutely love the thin crust and all that cheesy goodiness.

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5) Kale Salad
Nothing out of this world but I never knew that a simple kale salad with golden raisins, pine nuts and lemon dill dressing could taste this appetizing. Perhaps my body was just intensely craving for some greens after nearly a week of nearly everything but vegetables.

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Chelsea market is a great spot to hit if you, like me, enjoy looking at food. The garden in the second floor balcony is really worth checking out too. Here are a few sights in the market:

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The Lobster Place in Chelsea Market. I was definitely tempted to get a whole lobster or a lobster sandwich.

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Meating in Austin

Honestly, I am usually not a super huge fan of food like hot dogs, burgers and barbecued meat. However, there was no way I would pass up the opportunity to try these while I was in Texas. With so many people in the South loving their meat, I just had to find out what was so special about their burgers and what nots over here. Can their food convert a not-so-avid meat eater to a a meat-hungry carnivore?

Bratwurst @ The Best Wurst, Sixth Street 

Bratwurst This bratwurst came from a food truck on Sixth Street, a street lined with bars and clubs. The sausage and the sauerkraut were good but the best part was their curry ketchup. Call me a noob but this was my first time having curry ketchup and I absolutely loved it!

Beef Brisket Sandwich @ Salt Lick, Austin-Bergstrom International Airport

Beef Brisket Sandwich

 Perhaps I should have lined up for two hours at Franklin’s for what is supposedly the best barbecue or ate at Rudy’s which is a local favorite but I did not. My laziness to go out of my way for good meat has ended up with me stuffing myself with whatever barbecue meat I could find at the airport, half an hour before leaving Austin for good. For airport and barbecue food, Salt Lick is actually pretty good bang for your buck. I have had meat-loving friends who really enjoyed this sandwich but the meat was not quite impressive enough to make a not-so-avid meat lover go crazy.

Everyone, and by that I mean every single Austinite that I have had the chance to talk to about food, raves about Hopdoddy’s. This gourmet burger bar is well known not just for their burgers but their milkshakes too. Thinking a burger alone was sinful enough, I decided to skip the milkshake. Lots of people rave about their Primetime Burger, which had way more meat than I imagined.

Primetime Burger @ Hopdoddy’s Burger Bar, Anderson St

Primetime Burger

Primetime Burger

 Honestly think that was hyped up way too much but hey, I’m not a meat person.