Archive for July, 2011

Jul 18

All Organic Macarons at Chantal Guillon

With much anticipation, I’ve been meaning to visit Chantal Guillon since they re-opened. So last Friday, I decided to take a 2 mile walk up and down the San Francisco hills for these sweet macaron delights! When I got there, there was a line which was impressive since it was in the middle of the day. Sweet and friendly, Chantal Guillon, was working.

When I got home, it was time to try them out with some coffee.  The macarons colors were a bit pale compared to how I remembered Paulette. I had to take a look at my Paulette blog to compare, and yes indeed, the colors were very different. I hate to say this, but I have to admit that I didn’t enjoy them as much as the macarons I’ve once had at Paulette. Not to say that Chantal Guillon is not good, they were still soft and fluffy,  but not as good as I remembered, and the filling was a bit sweeter than I would have liked.

So I had to do some digging online and according to what I read, Chantal Guillon moved on from the Paulette franchise and decided to go with the concept of all natural and organic products for her macarons, which is probably why they look and taste different.  She probably decided to make her move from the Paulette franchise since they was going through changes themselves. Turns out Paulette is now Lette Macarons, because “pau” was the victim of a trademark lawsuit! Oh my macarons is right!

I would still try Chantal Guillon if you haven’t. You never know, you might like the all organic macarons more than me! But for those who would like to have the macarons you once remembered, you can still order them from Lette Macarons, after all, they were shipped in daily from Beverly Hills anyways.

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Jul 18

Gialina Pizzeria, One Word: OMGoodness

I read about Gialina Pizzeria on SF Weekly‘s article, ‘San Francisco’s Top Five Pizzerias’, so I had pizza on my mind for dinner! We decided to order pizza on our relaxing Friday night. Because they may not take orders during their peak hours, we ordered at 5:30pm for a 6:00pm pick up.  But really,  how busy can this place possibly be? When we got there for our pick up, there were people lingering outside waiting for seats! YES, at 6:00pm, Gialina Pizzeria was PACKED! So yes, if you do go, bring your patience, and if you plan to order, order early.

When we got home, we couldn’t wait to open up the boxes and devour, the pizza smell in the car was making us hungry! Of course we ordered two, we first tried the Margherita with tomato, fresh mozzarella and fresh basil! Our first bite made our eyes pop out, and our first words were ‘holy crap this is sooo good!’  The tomato sauce was out of this world, it was not tangy, not too sweet, just perfect with the cheese! I personally love thin pizza and I am not a fan of crust, but this was not any crust, it was thin bubbly crunchy crust. And then it was time for the Amatriciana with tomato, pancetta, spicy chillies, oregano, pecorino and topped with a farm egg. Yes, a farm egg on top, this pizza was pretty, it put a smile on our face. The ingredients for the Amatriciana were stronger, the taste of pancetta and the hint of spice were popping in our mouths! We shared the farm egg and it changed the taste by adding a unique balance to the ingredients.

I am so glad we read about this place, we were happy with every bite, I can’t wait to return for more!

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Jul 10

Rich Spices at Mingalaba

A friend recommended a Burmese restaurant, Mingalaba, so I went with my sister and mom. When we arrived,  it was about 6:30pm on a Sunday and there were people in line. This restaurant was busy, there were lots of people waiting, even when we finished around 8:00pm. Just a note, you can make reservations if you have 4 or more people.

When you walk into the restaurant, your senses will wake up from the delicious aromas.  When we were ordering we were very hungry and just like a Chinese quote puts it…’our eyes were wider than our stomach’. We started with the Paratha, a Burmese crispy pancake served with curry dipping sauce. Just peel the soft crispy pancake and dip it into the spicy curry dipping sauce! A little greasy but YUMMY! We then devoured the Lap Pat Dok-Tea Leaf Salad which is a mixture of imported Burmese tea leaves, tomatoes, cabbage, dried shrimp, fried garlic, sesame seeds, peanuts and split yellow peas. I personally love Tea Leaf Salad, I love the hint of the sour tea leaves taste with the crunchy ingredients!   To warm us up, we had the well flavored Moo Hing Nga-Catfish Chowder, a Burmese style fish chowder soup made with lemon grass and ginger, served with eggs, cilantro and lemons. We also added crunchy split yellow peas to it! Blend this all together and relish!

I have to admit, we were pretty stuffed after the three dishes, but we had two more dishes to go! We then enjoyed the Pumpkin Yellow Chicken with tender kabocha squash stewed with dark meat chicken, bell peppers, string beans and carrots, the sauce from this dish was perfect with our Tampoi Rice, a Burmese style saffron rice.  Last but not least, we had their House Special Noodle, a flat noodle dish combined with coconut milk,  chicken, lime leaves, yellow pea’s powder, onion and fried thin noodles. We were expecting more spiciness out of this dish, but it was not spicy at all, it was more of a creamy coconut milk sauce.  I’m not sure if we will order this again, next time we might give another noodle dish a try.

I don’t normally rave about beverages, but the spicy Ginger Lemonade (non-alcoholic of course) was delious! If you are a ginger fan, sip on this!

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Jul 09

Tonkotsu Me at Saiwaii Ramen

We always have to give ramen joints a try. They last two places we tried were Ajisen Ramen and Ramen Doraku, and the ramen at both were horrible! Let’s put it this way,  I didn’t even finish the bowl of ramen while eating at both and I hate wasting food! Anyhow, due to my bad ramen experiences, I was a bit reluctant to try Saiwaii Ramen, but since a few people recommended it, I had to try it!  I have to face the fact that I will never have the flavorful ramen I had in Japan in San Francisco.

We went to Saiwaii Ramen with an open mind. We started with the Kobe Beef Salad, featuring slices of lightly grilled fatty and tender Kobe Beef, on top of the spring salad and onions, with a hint of ginger. Yum, yum, yum…I highly recommend this if you go! Since they offer combination meals with the ramen, we added the Spicy Tuna Don, it was not the best, but it was not bad either, it was a nice cold side dish.  And then our ramens…my hubby ordered the Tonkotsu and I ordered the Spicy Garlic Tonkotsu. Both tonkotsu were served with chashu, bamboo shoots, seaweed, green onion and kikurage (also known to us Chinese as ‘wood ear’). We both added the Pork Belly, I didn’t realize that I forgot to add the Egg until I was halfway done! I heard their egg is marinated in soy sauce and the yolk is runny, I will have to try it next time.

The outcome? The Tonkotsu (non-spicy) was milky and flavorful. I then tried my Mild Spicy Garlic Tonkotsu, oh yeah, this is what I’m talking about, it was very flavorful and the spice was perfect, not spicy to the point where I couldn’t taste my food. The ramen was actually good too, the texture was crunchy chewy, it didn’t get soggy right away. The soy sauce Pork Belly was extremely fatty and the fatty part melted like butter, but I do have to say that the meaty part of it was not that tender.

 

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Jul 05

Eclectic Blend of Japanese & Pacific Dishes at Sushi Ran

Over the weekend we had dinner at Sushi Ran, located in serene Sausalito. We had the first seating for 5pm, since it was beautiful weather, we were seated on their covered patio along the quiet and charming street. We went with great company and they knew exactly what to order which was a plus since the menu is quite extensive.

We started with the Vegetable Tasting featuring Ginger Grilled Eggplant, Aji Nori Potatoes, Spaghetti Squash and Zucchini Kimchee. WOW, every little bite for each was distinctively mouthwatering.  Please get this unique tasting if you go! We then enjoyed the chewy yet crunchy Grilled Squid Tentacles served with Black Garlic Aioli, the squid ink looking aioli was a twist to this dish!  Then came the Seared Jumbo Day Boat Scallops with Green garlic, Wheat Berry, Nettles, Pea Shoots and Uni Bernaise, holy s#@%, this was a heavenly dish! The blend of ingredients were just amazing and the scallop was perfectly seared, not chewy at all…fresh, plump and tender! Of course our tasting didn’t stop there, we then got our deep fried Agadashi Tofu, the batter and the flavors were light, I enjoyed the dried fish flakes on top of it!

Due to the area we were sitting, the Sushi Omakase is not normally served there, but they agreed to serve it to us anyhow. So just know this if you make reservations and plan to have the Omakase. All the fish was fresh with their distinctive enticing taste. I have to admit, I couldn’t remember everything we tasted, I had to ask my friend and she let me know that they were: zuke chu-toro (soy sauce cured medium fatty blue fin tuna), ayu (sweetfish), umi masu (ocean trout), hirame (flounder), kanpachi (amberjack or otherwise young hamachi), katsuo tataki (a tuna that was prepared with a lightly cherrywood smoked bonito).

After devouring the sushi omakase, we decided to order a few more savory dishes to complete our night. We ordered the fresh Uni (sea urchin) and Ikura (salt cured salmon caviar), and Soft Shell Crawfish Hand Rolls! YUM, YUM and YUM! The Soft Shell Crawfish was definitely different in a good way! Of course after we had the hand rolls, we still wanted to order one last dish, we were contemplating a few and went with the Scallop-Chive Dumplings with Water Spinach and Soy-Vinegar. I hate to say it, maybe we could have done without this dish, the skin of the dumplings were good, it was tasty but it was not great.

We wanted to go elsewhere for desserts, but decided to stay for the Warm Toffee Cake served with Spiced Caramel and Ginger Gelato, the Bananas Foster served with Ginger Gelato and Toasted Coconut and the Buttermilk Panna Cotta Blueberries served with a Cocoa Nib Brittle. Okay, what the hell, how can a place with such wonderful savory cuisines also have such wonderful sweet delights? I don’t know how Sushi Ran does it, but they sure did!  We were so happy with the spicy ginger tasty goodness…the panna cotta was good too, but not as good as the other two.

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