Category Archives: San Francisco

Final Food Adventures in San Francisco

As it turns out, I ended up postponing my food exploration to non-touristy areas in San Francisco to my last few weeks in the Bay Area. After my finals, I got the chance to explore some Vietnamese / Thai food in Tenderloin as well as some popular eateries at Richmond / Sunset.

I have always heard things about Tenderloin – about how I should avoid accidentally walking into Tenderloin, especially in the evenings, because of safety reasons. After finding out that Little Saigon was in Tenderloin, I simply thought to myself that I had to check out this place at least once. I have also never had banh mi before so I thought, why not? My friend and I went to Saigon Sandwich, a small place where you can supposedly find the best banh mi in San Francisco.

Roast Pork Banh Mi @ Saigon Sandwich, Tenderloin, SF

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This is evidently a go-to lunch place for a lot of people working in the area. I’m not surprised, considering how you only need to spend $3.75 to fill yourself up – a steal in the city. My friend and I shared a roast pork banh mi and it was really delicious. I liked the baguette, the crunchy carrots and not to mention their sauce! Unfortunately, our eating experience was interrupted by a scary looking homeless person who kept knocking on the glass window we were sitting by. He was quite relentless and I was honestly scared but after awhile he left to bother some other customers waiting in line…

We then hopped to a Thai restaurant that Felicia absolutely loves called Zen Yai Thai. She had been evangelizing their mini boat noodles and after trying them, I don’t blame here for it. Their tom yum broth was pretty amazing and I also really enjoyed the broth in the our second boat noodle, which supposedly is made from curdled blood.

Tom Yum Boat Noodle @ Zen Yai Thai, Tenderloin, SF

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Beef (or Pork?) Boat Noodle @ Zen Yai Thai, Tenderloin, SF

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Excellent broth and noodles for $2.50 each and as Felicia recommended, get many different combos of boat noodles to share with your friends.

I got to try more Chinese food in the Richmond and Sunset area – more notably, Shanghai Dumpling King and San Tung Chicken Restaurant. Shanghai Dumpling King is kind of known for their xiao long baos (soup dumplings) but unfortunately it fell short of my expectations. I was initially a little put off by how red and raw the meat filling looked but it ended up tasting fine. However, I thought it didn’t have very much soup at all. Perhaps I was unlucky enough to get a mediocre batch of xiao long baos.

San Tung  Chicken Restaurant, on the contrary, lived up to my expectations. My friends and I had their shrimp and leek dumplings, sauteed Chinese long beans, and of course, their popular dry fried chicken wings. All of them were really great but too bad I was too hungry to even remember to take pictures before we devoured the food.

 

Burma Superstar

It was only during my last few weeks in the Bay Area that I got to explore Inner Richmond in San Francisco. Under many friends’ recommendations, I grabbed my birthday dinner at Burma Superstar! This birthday girl was fortunate because she was seated immediately but shortly after, a line developed outside the restaurant’s entrance. Tip: Go on a weekday before 6PM to beat the crowd.

The items on the menu weren’t any surprise to me because I have dined at a Burma Superstar in Oakland as well as a similar establishment in Berkeley called Rangoon Super Stars, both located along Telegraph Ave. I absolutely enjoyed the salads at both establishments and since my friends claimed that the ones here were better, I ended up ordering the same things.

Rainbow Salad

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Tea Leaf Salad

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The Rainbow Salad consists of 22 food ingredients including fresh noodles, papaya, crispy wonton skins and tofu. The Tea Leaf Salad, as its name implies, has tea leafs in it and the flavor definitely stands out in a good way. I believe it was featured in the Food Network too. As you can probably tell from the pictures, they are more interesting and flavorful than your average spinach or kale salad. Personally, I preferred the Rainbow Salad but they were both excellent dishes. I would definitely recommend these dishes to anyone who hasn’t tried them before. Their coconut rice is pretty good too and it basically reminded me of the rice in nasi lemak in Brunei.

I asked the servers if they had any special treats for birthday girls and they brought out two scoops of lychee sorbet with a lit candle on top, yay! And as if that amount of sugar wasn’t enough for the day, I walked over to Schubert’s Bakery to get myself a slice of their popular Swedish Princess.

Beautiful cakes at Schubert’s Bakery

Schubert

No pictures of the actual slice that I got but the Swedish Princess is basically a layered cake with raspberry and custard filling, topped with icing that looked like fondant. It was definitely one of the best mousse cakes I have had but I still have a soft spot for the cakes at Masse’s Pastries in Berkeley.

Blue Bottle Baby

Blue Bottle coffee, the beloved baby of many caffeine lovers in San Francisco. After receiving multiple shocked responses from friends who found out I hadn’t tried this famed coffee after nearly four years in the area, I decided that this day had to happen.

New Orleans Iced Coffee @ Blue Bottle, SOMA
New Orleans Iced Coffee

My verdict? I don’t think I’m enough of a coffee connoisseur to appreciate Blue Bottle. My heart has been captured by Philz Coffee – by the refreshing iced mint mojito and the smooth mocha tesora – now and possibly forever.

SF Japantown: Japanese Crepes

When in San Francisco’s Japantown, you have to get yourself a Japanese crepe with gelato if you haven’t already.  The question is, Sophie’s Crepe or Belly Good Cafe?

Green Tea Gelato Crepe @ Sophie’s Crepe, Japantown SF

Honestly, I don’t know. I had gelato crepes from both at too far apart times to be able to recall and compare. All I remember is that they were both different in some aspects but I walked out of the plaza both times an extremely satisfied person. All I can offer are some tips:

Tip One: Save enough space in your stomach for the crepe. Eating a whole crepe after downing an entire bowl of ramen was not a good idea.

Tip Two: Belly Good Cafe makes super kawaii faces on top of the gelato if you consider that a plus (I did!).

Tip Three: Green tea gelato, always.

It still remains one of my big regrets for not having more of these delectable crepes before leaving NorCal so please have them on behalf of me if you can.

Little Eataly

During my family’s visit to the San Francisco Bay Area for my graduation, I decided to take them on a tour around Little Italy in San Francisco so they could have a taste of Italian food that was more authentic than what we could find in our hometown. We stumbled upon Firenze by Night, which turned out to be popular among patrons who approve of the dishes’ authenticity.

A lot of Yelp reviewers rave about their gnocchi which I did not end up ordering because I generally find gnocchi too starchy. Instead, I ordered the Pappardelle ala Toscana which a lot of people reviewed very favourably too. It is basically very wide pasta noodles in rabbit sauce, definitely a deviation from the likes of Chicken Marsala or Frutti di Mare that I frequently order at Italian restaurants. Rabbit sauce sounded interesting to me so I went with it.

Pappardelle ala Toscana @ Firenze by Night, Little Italy SF

Pappardelle Toscana

It was quite a simple dish but not the pasta-I-can-cook-myself kind of simplicity. It was literally fresh egg pasta. And sauce. With bits of rabbit meat. It was a good dish but not overwhelmingly amazing like what I was led to believe. Perhaps my taste in Italian food is less authentic and more American than I thought. I also had a taste of the other dishes that my family ordered which had seafood and I have to say that Firenze by Night does its seafood well. The seafood linguini that my mother ordered as well as the seafood entree my father got were tres fresh and delicious.

Seafood Linguini @ Firenze by Night, Little Italy SF

Overall, Excellent service and better than your average Italian restaurant. However, I would like to believe that there are better Italian restaurants in the same price range somewhere in Little Italy or the city. My family and I actually preferred our experience at Scoma’s Restaurant in Fisherman’s Wharf despite the heftier bill (old post here).

As for desserts, we undoubtedly went for gelato. I took my family to Gelataria Naia, a chain that was very popular among my friends before the branch in Berkeley closed down. Somehow, the gelato fell short of what I remembered it to be and I found myself favouring Almare Gelato in Berkeley. Yay to locally owned stores!

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.

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.