There are so many ramen joints in the Bay Area! But the one I’ve been enjoying lately is Waraku located in the Japantown in San Francisco. I’ve been there a few times and have tried the warm comforting bowl of Tonkotsu Ramen served with house made tonkotsu broth base, chashu pork, green onions, bamboo shoots, kikurage-mushrooms, bean sprouts and smoked egg! But I have to admit, I really love slurping the Tsukemen, served with a really rich and warm house made tonkotsu and fish base broth and served with all the same accompaniments as the Tonkotsu Ramen. The only difference is that you dip the ramen and accompaniments into the rich broth. And of course I also love to add the tender Braised Pork Belly, the sweet soy sauce flavor is so addicting! If you are in the area, give this place a try!
Last weekend we had a late lunch and decided that we really wanted a burger, a real juicy burger! So, we decided to finally try Umami Burger. I’ve seen quite a few people checking in to this place so I had a feeling it was going to be good. We went to the Palo Alto location, and we were there quite late, it was probably 2:00pm on a Sunday. We were very lucky we didn’t have to wait cause right after we were seated, we noticed a line!
We shared the very crispy Thin Fries served with the tender braised short rib and house gravy. I really liked the fries and house gravy, the short rib was okay, but nothing to write home about. For the burgers, we decided on the Original and the Truffle Burger, both medium rare. The Original was served with shiitake mushroom, caramelized onions, roasted tomato, parmesan crisp and Umami ketchup. There was a lot of flavors to this one, somehow the flavors reminded me of Chinese barbecue pork bun flavors! The Truffle Burger served with house-made truffle cheese and truffle glaze was so damn good though, I loved the hint of truffle flavors. The plus about both was the meat for the burgers, they were definitely plump and juicy, and they really did make them medium rare. The buns were even good, with just a little sweetness and fluff. The only downside is that they’re not cheap, and the order doesn’t come with anything (not even a pickle!) besides what you see below.
Even though it’s a bit overpriced, I’ve already decided that the next time I visit, I will have the Manly Burger…until next time..
After reading about this place, I had to bring my family to test it out! House of Pancakes does not serve your typical American pancakes, it serves warm crispy and fried flavorful Chinese pancakes with marinated meat. It’s a very small restaurant so be aware that there may be a wait.
We tried three different pancakes: the Pork Pancake, the Sesame Pancake with Beef and the Beef Roll Pancake! All three were very different and very good! The meat for the Pork Pancake was juicy and flavorful, while the meat for the Beef Pancakes were a sweet soy sauce flavor. The pancakes were crispy and fried perfectly!
We also shared Lamb Potstickers, Lamb Skewers, Fresh Cucumbers and the Hand Pulled Noodles with Mustard Green and Pork. Okay, if you like lamb, you will like the juicy and not so gamey Lamb Potstickers. The Lamb Skewers had a nice spice but a bit gamey and on the drier side. The cucumbers served with soy sauce and sesame oil were just a way for us to have vegetables, but they weren’t that great. I do have to say, although the broth for the Hand Pulled Noodles with Mustard Green and Pork was very light, I enjoyed it after having fried pancakes and other pan fried dishes. If you want more soup flavor, just add the hot sauce! The fresh hand pulled noodles were chewy and doughy at the same time, I really enjoyed the texture!
We read a few mixed reviews before getting there, but we had a good experience, enjoyed the food and would definitely go back!
It’s been a while since we’ve been able to go on a dinner date, but for my birthday this year, a foodie friend of mine recommended Pläj and said that it was one of the best meals she’s had in a long time. Well, since she put it that way, I knew we had to try it out! I’ve never had Scandinavian food before so I can’t compare it to anything, but…it was surely creative, colorful and deelicious! Located inside the Inn at the Opera is the unexpected hidden gem Pläj. We were welcomed into the warm, dimly lit and traditional looking restaurant with our nice host and then met our friendly server Ashley who explained the menu to us.
We really didn’t know what to expect, but started with the Organic beet root, black summer truffle, Sausalito Springs watercress, hazelnuts and västerbotten cheese. This salad was dressed with beet root, and if you are a beet fan like me, you will love this dish! All the ingredients smelled and tasted so good together. From the very small slice of delicate truffle to the crunchy hazelnut, it was such a great mix and unique salad dish.
We then enjoyed the popular Krondill Poached Lobster Skagen with white fish caviar, horseradish, avocado and chili. The fresh sweet lobster and crunchy caviar was surrounded by a sea of light lobster flavored foam. We also had the House Cured Atlantic Salmon Gravlax served with spicy Swedish mustard, dill puree and lemon crème fraiche. Wow, this salmon was cured perfectly and consisted of such wonderful flavors. Just a dab of the complementary sauces went a long way since I really wanted to enjoy the flavors of the salmon.
For the entrees, we shared the Berkshire Pork Belly served with Swedish mash, brussel sprouts and mustard greens. The tender lightly flavored pork belly was good, but we were even more impressed by the Swedish mash with mustard, which I heard them said were carrots and turnips. The Saddle of Venison served with chipollini onions, chantarelle, rainbow chard, Scandinavian gratin and Juniper berry jus was flavorful too! The venison was very tender, I never knew such lean meat could taste so good! Both of these entree dishes had such great accompaniments and sauces!
Since everything was so remarkable, we had to try a dessert. We got the Swedish Spiced Apple Pie served with house made vanilla bay leaf ice cream. The pie was moist with a little crunch, and eating it with the vanilla bay leaf ice cream made it taste like a white powdered donut!
Pläj was a great food experience with outstanding service, creative and unexpected dishes…definitely a special restaurant for special occasions.
It’s been a while since we had our dinner date, our first since our baby boy was born, at the charming and busy Frances. Who would have thought being a mom would also mean blogging about such a special restaurant 2 months later. Oh Frances, where do I even begin…everytime I mention your name, the first thing people ask is ’How did you get the reservation’? My reply, I was dealing with a crying baby in the wee hours of the morning and was able to make my reservations exactly 60 days out. And yes, I had a reminder in my calendar and reserved it online at 3:00am. And even though we had reservations for 7:30pm, we made it to the restaurant when they opened and were able to get seats at the bar facing all the action-the crazy yet organized kitchen. We LOVED our seats since the main dining area was small and crowded. I would also like to add that we were greeted by happy and friendly Paul, who we soon realized was the wine guy of the place.
Speaking of the wine, you MUST get their house wine. I don’t usually drink, but after I tasted their house wine I wish they sold it in stores so that I could enjoy a glass at home. Their house wine is blended by Paul, the super smiley wine guy, and Marco Cappelli from Miraflores Winery. And it is blended based on the seasonal menu ingredients selected by Chef Melissa Perello. This isn’t the only unique thing about the wine…they also charge 1 dollar per ounce. They serve the wine in a tall pitcher with measurements and anything you don’t pour into your glass, they actually take it back and won’t charge you for it!
The other special thing about this restaurant is that they feature a daily-changing menu focusing on seasonal local ingredients. So everything I’m mentioning here from 2 months ago may or may not be on the menu. We started with the ’OMGoodness’ Applewood Smoked Bacon Beignets served with Maple Chive Creme Fraiche. What the bacon is in this thing? We couldn’t even see the bacon but the flavors were infused in it!
We then shared the Dungeness Crab Risotto with Celery Root Confit and Meyer Lemon Cream. We probably should have ordered two, one for each of us, why did we even bother sharing when we were practically licking the cream off the spoon (okay, maybe only I was). This dish featured chunks of fresh Dungeness crab and serving it with the hint of zest from the Meyer lemon cream was genius! We also ordered the Persimmon Salad with Little Gems, Castelfranco Radicchio, Toasted Walnut and Blu di Lanzo, who knew persimmons tasted so good with blue cheese?!
For the entrees, we ordered the Five-Dot Ranch Bavette Steak served with Chanterelle Mushrooms, Caramelized Sunchoke and Persillade and the Sonoma Duck Breast served with Baby Kale, Delicata Squash, Lady Apple and Cipollini Onion. There is just something about all natural meat and poultry, they just taste better, more fresh and tender. And having it seasoned and cooked to perfection doesn’t hurt too. The chef selected the best accompaniments to serve with each dish!
Last but not least, the one dish that’s usually hard to make it to, the dessert. We were seated in front of the pastry person, we were eyeing everything she created the entire night. The one dessert that everyone kept ordering was the Chocolate Torte & Pecan Pie with Rum Caramel and Brown Butter Pecan Ice Cream. So seeing that it looked like the winner dessert for the night, we had to get one too! And yes…we were full, but we were not too full for this. There was chocolate sauce oozing out of the Chocolate Torte and it paired so well with the ice cream!
Wow Frances, you complete me, what an experience! If you want to taste ingredients for what the are, you must eat here!
This blog is dedicated to my grandpa, he passed away the day after this dinner, that’s probably the other reason why it took me so long to blog about this restaurant. Thank you grandpa, if it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t have this good life I have now. As I go on with my daily life, sometimes I forget about what my grandpa has gone through, his stories always made my life look so easy. I will always remember how much you sacrificed to give this life to us, we are truly blessed and fortunate in so many ways.
We were at UCSF for a couple of days and got sick of eating the food at the hospital. While driving in the area we had noticed Wooly Pig Cafe, we weren’t sure what they served but decided to give it a try. It’s a small comfortable neighborhood cafe serving gourmet sandwiches, coffee and dessert. Everyone who walked in after us knew the super friendly owner.
We got one of the specials, the Spicy Meatball Sandwich, and it reminded us of a Vietnamese Xiu Mai Sandwich. I have to be honest, I am not a huge sandwich fan, but I do love hot sandwiches. And this was really good, they served good bread and it was perfectly toasted. We really wanted to go back to try their Wooly Pig Sandwich which is their pork belly and their Open Faced Egg Sandwich, but never got a chance to. If we are ever in the area during lunch, we will definitely have to stop by for them!
I don’t get many cravings while pregnant, but one cuisine I do want every once in a while is Indian food! Since we don’t have many weekends left to go out for meals in peace and quiet, we decided to drive along the Mission District and drove by Aslam’s Rasoi which was on my to-eat list! Upon arrival, we were greeted by a really friendly host who also took our order, turns out he was the owner/chef’s son, the service was definitely good. We don’t normally go to Indian restaurants with linens, the prices were higher than our favorite Indian restaurant, Chutney.
We shared the creamy and spicy Chicken Tikka Masala, tandoori boneless chicken sauteed with herbs, spices, tomatoes and cream, and the Dum Aloo Vindaloo, spiced potatoes with a hot tomato curry sauce with cumin. To soak up all the wonderful spicy sauces from the dishes, we ordered the Pulao, basmati rice cooked with saffron, cumin, cardamom and cinnamon, the regular Naan and the Garlic and Basil Naan. The naan was really good, very fluffy and light! To calm the spices down a bit, I enjoyed a few cups of Chai, homemade tea with milk, cardamom, cinnamon and fennel. There were refills and the spices were delicious so I couldn’t resist having a few cups, I probably shouldn’t have drank so many, I was a bit wired after. Very good Indian food, would definitely recommend!
To celebrate our 6th year dating anniversary, we decided to go to Wayfare Tavern, a Tyler Florence restaurant located in the heart of the Financial District. I’ve heard mixed reviews on this restaurant, but thought we’d give it a try anyways. We walked into the dark rich rustic ambiance and immediately fell in love. We sat nearby the small kitchen and watched the action, it was very impressive to see the busy kitchen staff working on each little detail on each plate, they treated each plate as a work of art. We had a very nice server who explained every dish as well.
We started the night by enjoying fresh hot Popovers with whipped butter! For appetizers, we shared the Roasted Marrow Bones topped with bread crumbs served with grilled sourdough topped with parsley, onions and capers. The marrow bones were fatty and the perfect spread for the grilled sourdough! We also shared a Poutine, instead of just Canadian style Fries and Gravy, it was served with short rib, carrots and melted mozzarella.
For my entree, I got the Organic Fried Chicken served with buttermilk brine, roasted garlic, crisp woody herbs and lemon! The chicken was extremely moist and adding the lemon brought out all the flavors! The hubby got himself the 28-Day Dry Aged Ribeye served with duck fat fried potatoes and Zinfandel butter. He really enjoyed it, the ribeye was very flavorful! For our side, we decided to share the cheesy and creamy Baked Macaroni & Cheese served with Vella dry jack and smoked olive oil.
One thing we didn’t expect were the huge portions, we actually had leftovers. We were too full to enjoy any of the desserts but it was nice to get complimentary warm soft cookies.
As we asked for our bill, we were told by the server that our friends Phil and Frances already took care of our bill, congratulating us for our new addition to our family! It was such a surprise, now they can see the damage that we did! THANK YOU SO MUCH, it was completely unexpected!
We went to Oahu for a wedding and had time to enjoy a few eateries during our short stay.
I know I know…why go to McDonald’s on Waikiki? Well…we had to stop by for the breakfast, the Spam and Portuguese Sausages served with Rice and Eggs are just too good to pass. Add some soy sauce on the rice and you are set! Of course we also had to try the Fried Coconut Pie, yum yum yum…it tasted like coconut almond jello!
As we were driving towards the North Shore, we had to stop by the Dole Plantation in Wahiawa like all the tourist do. We stopped by for their super sweet pineapples and Dole’s pineapple ice cream and float. I LOVE fresh pineapples!
Definitely visit the Matsumoto Shave Ice in Haleiwa for the perfect sweet, slushy and icy cold shaved ice served with the flavors of your choice. It’s the best thing you can do for yourself on a hot day in Hawaii! I got myself the fruity Guava and Passion Fruit (known as Lilikoi in Hawaii) with Condensed Milk, while my hubby got himself the Hawaiian featuring Pineapple, Coconut and Banana flavors, adding Red Beans and Condensed Milk! Yes, he got himself the works, I was so proud!
After you get yourself the sweet delights, stop by the very busy Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck in Kahuku! We shared the very garlicky and fresh Shrimp Scampi served with rice topped with fried garlic and the very Hot & Spicy Shrimp also served with rice. We also got ourselves the Macaroni Salad which really helped balance flavors after eating the spicy shrimps!
On the drive back South, we decided to stop by Leonard’s Bakery. We had to try the Malasada Puffs so we got ourselves the Custard and Coconut flavor! Who can say no to fried donuts with creamy custard or coconut flavors inside?! Eat it warm, you won’t regret stopping by!
After a day of snacking, we decided to try Yotteko-Ya for dinner! I can always eat good ramen! We both got the Tabeteko Paitan Ramen with Kim Chee, served with their homemade Chashu Pork. We also shared the Ebi Mayonnaise, which was large shrimps with homemade sweet mayonnaise sauce. I wish I knew how good their Chashu Pork was, I would have ordered a bowl of ramen with more of it. The ramen was also crunchy and al dente, just the way we like them, and the soup base was very good too. I think they do run out of things early, we got there at 8:30pm when they normally close at 10:00pm and they were already running out of food. If you do come here, be aware that parking may not be easy due to too many restaurants and minimal parking spaces.
On our last morning, we decided to stop by the Steak Shack, a real small shack serving just a few things. We got the Steak Plate over Rice and Chicken Plate over Rice. The marinated meats are very flavorful and at $6.00 each plate, it’s a damn good deal! It was a great way to end our trip, just people watching and enjoying the view of the beach.