Sunday, July 29, 2007

Bissap Boabab

2323 Mission St (& 19th St)
(415) 826-9287

Senagalese in the Mission

I've been here quite a few times in the last few years, and I recently visited to find their menu changed. They still have a lot of the same dishes, but it's definitely more condensed and more organized.

On my most recent visit, for food we had the plantains, the "seafood coconut" with tilapia, and the "yapou khar" which was basically lamb in a veggie sauce. The sauce in the seafood coconut dish is really yummy, which is the one thing I've remembered from my past visits here as well. The rest of the food that I've tried is good, solid, and hearty.

This is a cool spot for a chill dinner with drinks (they have a nice selection of hibiscus and ginger cocktails). It's not that big, so a party of 6 is probably as big as I'd go.


Monday, July 23, 2007

organic lemon cream tartlets

I based these tarts off of this recipe, making a few minor adjustments. I was also breaking in my new food processor (!) so it took me much longer than anticipated.

These apricots are from my dad's backyard. I must say that using organic lemons felt more flavorful. Maybe it's just me, but the rinds were more oily and fragrant.


Wednesday, July 18, 2007

$1 meals, or an Exposé on my Food-Related Spending Habits

My recent experience at Oliveto took place during a visit to my friend Erina's open house for a missions project she's leading called BayUP. In short, BayUP is intentional living in urban neighborhoods across the Bay Area. After the open house, the hordes of visitors split up to take out each of the 5 team members to dinner, and because I'm special (so special!), I got Erina all to myself.

Oliveto, to me, was relatively cheap. We ended up spending about $25 per person (I treated), which to me is a great price considering that it's a well-known and classy Berkeley joint. She, however, felt guilty, and with reason. Here is an excerpt from an update she sent out after her first week at BayUP:

Food has also been on our minds a lot. We all have a budget of $15/week for food, which comes out to less than a $1/meal for an entire week. While God has been sufficient in providing for our team, many of us are trying to learn what it means to have to ration food and eat just enough. God has definitely been challenging us about what true "Hunger" is and what it means to spend our money and labor on what can truly satisfy and to delight in the "richest of fare" (Isaiah 55).
I tried to appease her guilt by justifying that there's nothing wrong with enjoying life and having nice meals once in awhile. Living that lifestyle, however, could be questionable, I said.

Right after I made that statement I realized what I hypocrite I am! I mean, I HAVE A FOOD BLOG! Just the day before Oliveto I had a conversation about French Laundry, where we spent $460 per person. The day after Oliveto I went to Pearl. I do eat out a lot, but definitely not as much as I did before... but relatively, it is still fairly often.That's my credit card activity since the beginning of the month for the most part (I can't recall what the "Queen House" purchase was though... strange. It might be a Taiwanese restaurant in the MVizzy). Everything on there is food or food-related. Would I be able to try $15/week for food? That means absolutely no eating out, since lunch in financial averages around $10 for a sandwich! Everything in moderation.



5655 College Ave.
(510) 547-5356

Italian in Oakland's Rockridge area

This place is really big! The downstairs is for their more casual wood oven menu, and the upstairs menu is more extensive with more variety. We went upstairs, and were welcomed by a great waiter. We ended up ordering what he suggested....

To start, we had the crudo (Italian sashimi, basically) with halibut and avocado - this was amazing. The amount of citrus was perfect and, with the salt, made the dish cohesive. For entrees, we shared paccheroni (the beef wasn't as good as I thought it would be. It felt slightly overcooked) and the strozzapreti which I liked. I think I just like anything with ricotta salata - I like salty things.

We had a pretty light meal, but it was good quality and well priced. The non-pasta entrees are about $15+ more expensive, which is why our meal doesn't match the pricing on this entry (we spent $25/person). I like this place! I need to go a few more times to get a better feel.


Saturday, July 07, 2007

ruff ruff

I just thought this picture of my older sister's dog, Bonnie, was cute. That is all.


rice pudding, or Food Rejected by the Suffering

My little sister just got her wisdom teeth pulled, and being the youngest child she is, she's been sobbing melodramatically over her unrelinquishing pain. So being the good sister I am, I went home to visit her, and today she said she wanted pudding. We only had jello mix, but she didn't want jello (silly Kathy); she wanted pudding. Chocolate pudding. Well we didn't have chocolate, so I decided to make her rice pudding. I liked it, but the rice wasn't soft enough, so she automatically spit it out and huffed about how she wanted smooth chocolate pudding! Grrr. Whatever. It's in my tummy now. And now she's eating cookies. WTB??



1408 Clement St. (and 15th Ave.)

(415) 750-9787

French in the Richmond

I ate here with a friend for his birthday a long time ago, and I honestly don't really remember much about the food (doesn't say much for the food). It was good, but not striking, obviously. I just remember having a lot of meat. Oh and the trio of sorbet which was interesting. i thought that the food was so good, more **** than *** (it might have been because of the two bottles of wine though. for appetizers we had the tuna tartare served on a crouton which was perfect, not too fishy but still tuna, a delightful foie gras, and smoked trout that was very flavorful (maybe a bit too smokey though). the next course was sea bass on top of a scallop served with a seafood risotto and a tasty lobster sauce, it was absolutely wonderful. =]. for entrees, we had the duck and the cod. they were both really yummy too (and sounded a lot better on the menu than they do right now). and for dessert, we had some sort of strawberry with whipped cream with a vanilla pudding, a tart, and chocolate puffs on the house - so good, but we were so stuffed by then too.

On the other hand, what's quite memorable about this place is the service - it's EXTRAORDINARY - by far the best service I've had in SF. i agree! definitely the BEST service i've had. the waiters are very accomodating. the owner/chef/host comes out of the kitchen every so often just to see how the meal is going. Since it's in a residential neighborhood, it's not that crowded (which I love) but definitely gets a good amount of business. (it's been completely booked the two times i've tried to go there, definitely make a reservation if it's the weekend) Our waiter was extremely friendly and attentive, and really made the experience 10 times more enjoyable. our waiter was great too When we asked about the sorbet trio (the menu didn't list the flavors), he said it was a surprise and that we had to guess hahaha. We got 2 of them right, and were very close on the third =) The check is served in a hat ("chapeau" in french) - very cute. We had heard that the owner/chef makes sure he meets you after the meal, but we didn't see him so we decided to just leave. As we were rounding the corner, he ran after us and hugged/thanked us for coming =) we saw the owner/chef/host quite often. he came to speak with us many times, including when we were asking about a wine that i would like. his wife is one of the waitresses/hostesses as well.

Although the food wasn't memorable, everything else was! Very very cute. =) i liked it so much! i would definitely go here again.

- k - s

*** Edit: I went here again for a belated Father's Day dinner with my family, and it was a pretty lackluster meal. I really liked the broth in the mussels appetizer, but other than that, the food was eh. I think I would only go back for their "Early Bird Special" - a prix fixe for $25 on Sundays and weekday early evenings.



1751 Fulton St (& Masonic)
(415) 441-1710

Asian Fusion in Western Addition (more like Pan Asian than Fusion, actually)

This is a very trendy place - lots of yuppies... I've never been here for an event, but most of the people who've mentioned this place to me have gone for music-related events (e.g. hip hop, reggae). I went here for my friend's birthday dinner, and he set up the menu himself with wine pairings (he's an oenophile). I don't really believe in Asian Fusion (that's a whole other post), but because I'm such a good friend (!), I caved and made an exception.

The food was decent. This place is small plates style, which is to the restaurant's advantage -- when it comes to food that isn't spectacular and nothing special (but still decent), the more there is, the worse/more normal it seems because you have to keep eating more and more of it. Or at least that's how I feel. We had... (unless there are comments, it was normal)

- ahi poke
- sweet potato fries w/ banana ketchup (I don't like banana anything unless it's actual chunks of banana... otherwise, it reminds me of banana-flavored anaesthesia that my dentist used to give me as a kid... shudder)
- beef with bone marrow: I had heard from people that this was good, but I couldn't taste anything, ie it had no flavor... I wasn't the only one that felt this way. Beef wasn't very good - tough and bland.
- garlic crab noodles: surprisingly lots of crab, but the noodles felt like panda express chow mein quality
- edamame: I know, I know. Can they really be that different? I think this was my favorite part of the meal, which sounds weird. They were grilled, unlike most places, and the char flavor really gave it a kick.
- shrimp
- chicken satay: they used lemongrass stalks as skewers, which was pretty creative, and it definitely gave the chicken an enhanced flavor
- calamari
- cod
- dessert was like stuff you'd get at a Chinese restaurant. What it actually was escapes me at the moment

Wow, we got almost everything on the menu! So yes, the food was decent, and for $30, that's actually very good value. The wine pairing, of course, was not included since my friend brought all the wine from home.

I'd come here again for an event, and to try the tea (supposed to be really good but I didn't get to try it). The food is whatever, but the ambience is great for a night out with good company if you don't want to hit the bars/clubs.


Wednesday, July 04, 2007

chocolate truffles

In honor of the 4th of July, I made the worst thing imaginable: chocolate truffles. It was HOT, and one of the BBQs I went to was in the MVizzy, which was like 90 degrees. I had to stick them in the freezer like every 15 minutes. What was I thinking??

On the left: almond & vanilla, the right: kahlua & baileys rolled in cocoa powder.


Tuesday, July 03, 2007


1888 Solano Ave.
(510) 526-4373

Indian in Berkeley

This is an "upscale" (kind of) Indian restaurant in Berkeley's cute Solano area. By upscale, I mean that the restaurant has a nice interior and the food is cleaner (i.e. less greasy, more subtle flavors, if Indian food can be subtle).

For the food, we got chicken biriyani (rice, chicken, nuts, yogurt sauce, and other stuff), chicken samosas (mine had chicken cartilage in it! ugh), these scallop and corn fritter things (few pieces of scallop, and heavy on the fish paste), and the "madras jhinga masala," which was basically prawns with an onion sauce. The scallop fritters were gross - all you could really taste was the fried-ness. The samosas and the biriyani were OK. The prawns were REALLY good. I could just eat the onions+sauce with naan and be satisfied with that.

The beer we got was pretty rich, dark, and chocolatey - Ayinger ale from Germany... the brand was Celebrator I think. Anyway, this is a lackluster review for a whatever meal. Satisfying, but you can get Indian food just as good for cheaper. The end!


Rick & Ann's

2922 Domingo Ave (& Ashby/Claremont)

Californian in Berkeley

It's safe to say that this is my favorite place in Berkeley. I'm really hesitant to give 5 stars, because that would really mean perfection, but 4 would just not do justice, because I enjoy my experience here every single time I visit. * I've never been here for dinner, and although they also have a lunch menu, I think I've only eaten off their breakfast menu even during lunch time (which runs until 2:30pm). On weekends there is always a wait, especially when the weather's nice.

Nothing fails here. The staff is friendly, the ambience is very country/cottage, which is quite characteristic of that neighborhood in Berkeley. The food is great. I'm more of an eggs person when it comes to breakfast (by far the best meal of the day), but their whole wheat pancakes are fluffy and divine (and healthy!). Everything is uber Californian, and yummy! I went here earlier this morning for a late brunch and had the buttermilk waffle which wasn't the best, but I wasn't complaining. Their French toast is pretty good, but when Mike had it before he couldn't really taste the Orange (they add orange extract into the egg batter - I overheard a cook explaining it to a diner). Other than those examples, just about everything here is good!

* Edit: I change my mind. This is still one of my favorite Berkeley restaurants, but I realized that I'm over-hyping it by giving it 5 stars. I still believe their whole wheat pancakes are divine though.