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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Apr 02

House of Pancakes…Chinese Pancakes That Is…

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!

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Feb 06

Must Go Pläj…

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.

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