Sep 19

Date Night at Jū-ni

For Kent’s 40th birthday, I wanted to take him somewhere really good to celebrate!  So, for his big day, we made a date night reservation a few months ahead and decided to go to the most talked about Japanese restaurant, Jū-ni! I feel like everyone we know who have tried it, LOVE it. And everyone who hasn’t been there, wants a reservation. I learned that when you hear about a restaurant on social media as much as them, you have to try it!

Jū-ni means twelve in Japanese, the restaurant offers 12 seats with 2 seatings per night and a 12 course nigiri. The omakase is 15 course, including a salad, owan (soup) and dessert. At the end of the nigiri courses, you can decide if you want to add supplements. And believe me, you’ll want the Chef recommended supplements!

Kent and I knew a little bit about the restaurant and what to expect since our friends who have been there gave some great reviews on their dining experience. Being from the hospitality industry, I am extremely picky about service. If I dine at a high end restaurant, I am expecting very good service. But lately, I notice that some servers at high end restaurants really don’t care and are expecting a good gratuity no matter how they present their service.

Here’s the thing about Jū-ni, you not only get good service from the all around staff, you get a personable Chef who’s preparing every intricate course for you. They have 1 Chef for every 4 guests. Our wonderful Chef Daniel explained where the fish was from, gave us an idea of what textures and flavors to expect, the seasonings used, and even gave us cooking tips! From preparing and cleaning each of our serving boards for the next course, to slicing the fish to perfection and adding the seasonings to compliment each fish, he made it an amazing dining experience!

And then there’s the fish, a lot of it was sourced from Japan, the quality of the seafood was impeccable! Each with their own flavors and textures, they were all sweet and fresh!

There is no rushing here, just sit down and relax, enjoy the exceptional food, the company and the hospitality! Thank you Jū-ni, it was a fun date night!

Date night begins...

Chef Daniel at work

Happy with our lovely dining experience!

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Sep 19

Celebrating our 10 Years Dating Anniversary at Octavia

This is a late post, as date nights are rare, and having a moment to blog is exceptionally difficult now. So as expected, this blog will be short and sweet. Three months ago, we celebrated our 10 years Dating Anniversary. And yes, there is such a thing as I will find any excuse to eat a meal as civilized adults. For this special occasion, we decided to try Octavia, as we are also fans of Frances by Chef Melissa Perello. We very much enjoy sharing and tasting a bit of everything so Octavia’s small plates were perfect! We thought every dish was creative and unique, as the spices and ingredients brought out the flavors of the main star for each! The restaurant was rustic with high ceilings and featured an old San Franciscan charm. Note: They offer an ever changing seasonal menu, so the following may already not be available.

DEVILED EGG with fresno chile relish, dolcini egg, marash pepper & spice CHILLED SQUID INK NOODLES, cortez bottarga, fennel & lemon agrumato

 

 

 

 

 

 

BEEF TARTARE with provolone mandarone, taggiasche olives, watercress and the perfect garlic toastSMOKY POTATO CHOWDER with grilled salmon belly, fingerling potatoes, celery and dill

 

 

 

 

 

 

PAPPARDELLE with brentwood corn, chanterelle mushroom and brown butterSONOMA DUCK BREAST with roasted fig panzanella, toasted almond and chile romesco

 

 

 

 

 

 

WARM CHOCOLATE SOUFFLE TART with cocoa nib brittle, salted caramel ice creamMy handsome husband

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Dec 05

Seasoning a Cast Iron Wok – Happy Wokking!

We finally got the kitchen of our dreams and before it was even finished, we stopped by The Wok Shop in Chinatown to get educated on woks! I would also like to add, that we didn’t know this shop existed, we only knew because someone overheard Kent and I talking about how the place I wanted to go to was now closed, so a stranger wearing a ‘Google’ T-shirt told us about The Wok Shop. (Yes, he was really wearing a ‘Google’ T-shirt, haha)

When we walked in we were very surprised to see a shop full of woks. We were first approached by a little lady, she really didn’t know much about the woks. But later, we met with a very knowledgeable guy, let’s just call him the ‘wok guy’. We let him know that we got a BlueStar range and he knew right away that the cast iron was the one for us. He then gave us all the directions for how to season the wok: oil it, bake it and caramelize it! The most important tip was that you only use soap on it once before you oil it and bake it, but after that, you never use soap to clean it ever again, you only use hot water! This is how it gets better with age and becomes naturally nonstick! We bought the package and it came with everything we needed for about $50.00, the directions were included as well! The package included the Cast Iron Wok, Wok Ring, Spatula, Lid and Wok Cleaning Whisk made by thin strips of split bamboo! It’s definitely not expensive for everything we got and the ‘wok guy’ was just very informative, you really can’t find someone like him to teach you at Williams-Sonoma!

Last weekend I finally seasoned the wok, and we’ve made some damn good meals so far, as Chinese people would say, the dishes ‘had fire’ in them. I am reminded of how my parents used to cook when growing up. My mom actually asked us to get her one after she saw ours!

I would highly recommend this place for a wok!

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Sep 17

A Table for Two at Rich Table

Finally a date night, we haven’t been to a nice dinner since my birthday, and that was 7 months ago! I guess it makes us really appreciate a nice quiet adult dinner with incredible creative food even more. There are so many restaurants to choose from these days, so selecting a restaurant is always hard, but I realize that making reservations on the date and time you want is sometimes just as difficult!  I’ve heard and read good reviews about Rich Table from a few people who love food, so I made reservations exactly 30 days beforehand! We had dinner on a Sunday and arrived at 6:00pm, and the place was packed. I mean, the entire place was full, even the bar seating! So, luckily we had reservations. It’s quite loud and there’s not much space between you and the guests sitting next to you, so expect to hear some conversations that are not yours. We were quite lucky and were tucked away in the corner of the restaurant, I loved our seats actually, it was like a bird’s-eye view throughout the dining space, we were people watching…from young hipsters, families to older folks who were probably coming from the Opera. The rustic earth tone space was very comfortable, we could see the chef’s at work and even saw Chef Evan Rich in action at one point during the night.

The menu offers quite a variety, so we ordered many dishes to share. We started with the Sardine Chips with horseradish crème fraiche, which I heard so much about. If you like fishy sardines, you will love this and you will love the addicting horseradish crème fraiche it is served with, please do double dip. Then came the fluffy Dried Porcini Doughnuts with raclette, although we were afraid of getting full from eating these, it didn’t stop us from finishing it all. A little doughy, a little fluffy, the porcini and raclette mix smelled and tasted so good together. The Hamachi Tartare with lemon cucumber, green melon, parsley and popped sorghum was perfect for the hot day, it tasted like Summer, all the ingredients were refreshing and crunchy.

After the small bites, we then met our Bucatini with cherry clams, bone marrow and bay leaf. Wow, I’m glad it was not too large of a dish cause it was very rich, the bone marrow sauce was lathered in the bucatini! And no, I am not complaining about that, it was an amazing dish, we really loved it! Then came the pretty Aged Duck Breast with apple, candied grapefruit and yellow onion dish, it was not only pretty, the sweet flavors blended with the duck featuring a slightly crispy flavored skin was really good too! After the duck, we enjoyed the New York Strip Steak with mole, piquillo peppers and pumpkin seeds! Although the steak was medium rare and the flavors were really good, the meat was a bit tough. But…the mole sauce was damn good!

For dessert, and yes, we made it to dessert…we shared the Caramelized Banana Sundae with peanut butter and popcorn crumble with Sightglass Coffee that was served in the cutest Le Creuset French Press! Many times we are disappointed with desserts, but this sundae did not disappoint! We first asked ourselves, where’s the banana, but it was in the rich flavor of the sundae! This surprisingly delicious dessert was mixed with little tiny chunks of peanut butter and little leaves that tasted like licorice!

Service was unpretentious and very easy going, although I do have to add that we thought some dishes came out quite slow. We weren’t sure why that was, but we weren’t in a rush and it gave us time to digest a lot of food before the next dishes so we didn’t mind. Something we both loved were the sauces for some of our dishes! Creative, innovative and a fun place for all ages, young and old!

 

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Sep 08

The Perfect Summer Meal…Amami Sushi

We’ve heard about Amami Sushi for a while now, but now that we have a toddler, we just never have time to wait in lines anymore. We actually waited for a good half hour once, but had to leave. So, on one of those days I got out of work early, we decided to have dinner here at 5:00pm. Yes, I said 5:00pm. And I am so glad we did, because it was packed by 6:00pm, even if you had a reservation, I am sure it was delayed by a good half hour to an hour. Upon arrival, look at the Today’s Special Menu, or better yet, just take a photo like me and return to your seat! Haha!

We, of course, had to order the 10 piece Omakase dinner at $30.00 per person! The fish was so fresh, my only complaint is that the servers never told us what we were eating. And they are busy so you never want to stop them and ask. But as you can see, they include fresh tunas, salmons, even a baby lobster! We loved the seared options, they were very very fatty but so good! We also ordered the King Crab Remix with Scallop, Salmon and Avocado, it was a big piece and actually very refreshing after all the fatty fish, it tasted like summer! Last but not least, we also devoured the Seared Toro topped with Uni…and if you are thinking that it’s too much of a good thing, you’re probably right, but I enjoyed every bite of this damn good thing!

People always asks me, ‘What does your son eat?’. Well, he loves noodles, so we ordered him a Vegetable Udon. He actually really enjoyed it and ate all the udon and left me some vegetables to finish for him. The soup was only okay, kind of bland, but good for toddlers!

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Aug 28

A Night Out at Coqueta (A Very Late Post)

It’s been a while since we had dinner at Coqueta, in November 2013 to be exact, but you never forget some of your best meals! It was a rare date night for us and we were celebrating our wedding anniversary! To enjoy a night in San Francisco along the beautiful waterfront is always a treat in itself!  We heard rave reviews about the Spanish tapas at Coqueta so we had to try it. I requested to sit along the bar to see all the action in the busy kitchen, we love watching the creators get crafty with the dishes!

I just looked at their menu online and it looks like they still serve most of what we enjoyed that evening. I have to say that everything we had was delicious with the exception of the flan dessert. We shared everything, and yes, it was a lot of food but since it’s very seldom that we get to indulge, we had every reason to do it and this was the best place for it!

We started with the hot tapas! The Wood-Grilled Octopus with Fingerling Potatoes were smoky and the octopus was cooked with the perfect crunch! The Smoked Salmon with Queso Fresco and Truffle Honey was a tasty combination, although we’ve had better smoked salmon, it was not bad, we actually wanted the razor clams but they were out! And then the Sunny Side-Up Huevo with Shrimp, Crispy Potato and Chorizo Dressing came out and honestly, I don’t even know where to begin, blending the ingredients together was genius!

For the entree, we decided to go big, REALLY BIG! We ordered the Wood Grilled Bone-In 32oz. Natural Beef Ribeye with Moorish Pepper which is made to serve 4, and yes, our server did remind us that we would have to pay for the 4 people it serves. Wow, it was a thing of beauty when it came out and it was so damn amazing, it was the most flavorful and tender meat, and the moorish pepper sauce it was served with was excellent! We finished the ENTIRE thing! And okay, we also had some vegetables, we ordered the Vineyard Greens with Raisins and Pine Nuts and it was good, but the meat was better.

We would definitely return if we had another opportunity!

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Mar 24

Want Some Comfort Food…Go to HRD Coffee Shop

It’s been a while since I’ve had time to blog about food…unfortunately, my son keeps me very busy and tired these days. And, we don’t get to go out and enjoy meals as much as we would like. But, over the weekend, we had a chance to try HRD Coffee Shop and it was a delicious treat. We just so happened to be in the area and there was parking right in front, someone apparently paid 7 hours of parking on the space we took! WINNER!

We walked into the busy joint and luckily they had tables in the back that could accommodate us and our toddler.  Once you walk in you will be hungry, the smell of the food will immediately make you happy! We ordered the spicy Kim Chee Fried Rice with Pork, topped with a Sunny-Side Egg and the Curry Rice Plate with Fried Mahi Mahi, served with Brown Rice, Kim Chee Croquette and Wasabi Apple Coleslaw. Ummm…we were eating in silence and only spoke a few words such as “WTF? This is hella good!” The Kim Chee Fried Rice was goooood and even the spicy pork was nice and tender! The Fried Mahi Mahi was fried Katsu style, and smothering the Curry Sauce over it was perfect!

A little bit of Korean, a little bit of Japanese, we will definitely be returning to HRD for more!!!

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Sep 04

Ramen Time at Waraku

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!

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Jul 17

Umami Burger…A Little More Gourmet to Your Burger

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..

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Jul 02

Skool: A Seafood Gem

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