Friday, January 30, 2009

Anchor & Hope

Time flew by so quickly and the month of January is over. The only Dine about Town restaurant I went to this year was Anchor & Hope. We actually didn't end up ordering the DAT menu because there are other stuff that we wanted to try. There are some interesting stuff they have on the menu, but the overall experience was ok.

Smoked Salmon with potato cakes.

Breaded Catfish Sandwich with Sweet Potato Ribbon Fries

Lobster Roll

Steamed Mussels with Herbed Ribbon Fries

Creme Brulee with homemade Oreo

So here's the load down: The salmon was a bit fishy. The catfish sandwich reminded me of Filet O Fish, but the sweet potato ribbon fries were good. Even though they were sliced so thin, u can still taste the sweet potato. The lobster roll was better than expected - balanced flavor, u can really taste the sweetness in the lobster meat, not like the overloaded mayo ones that you usually find. Kathy and Stacy really like the brioche as the roll. Mussel was good, the herbed ribbon fries were not as good as the sweet potato. The creme brulee was good, but Kathy didn't approve the Oreo so I didnt try :).


Monday, January 26, 2009

Happy New Year!

Today is the first day of the lunar new year and we went to our go-to dim sum place for lunch: Great Eastern in Chinatown on Jackson. During our one-hour wait, not only were lots of Chinese people shoving their way towards the host to constantly check on their table status, but we also noticed something else going on... with just the slip of a lai see to a waiter, parties that arrived after us were already being seated! Whaaaaaatttttttt.

According to Gigi, this is totally common in HK (my parents had never heard of this either). There, everyone does it so it won't guarantee you a table right away, but possibly better service. Here, nobody really does that so those in the know get set up pretty nicely. Blast! That's OK though... I'm above bribing... even if it means starving for an hour. =P


Saturday, January 24, 2009

El Tonayense, or Yet Another Outer Mission Post

It seems like I've been trekking out to the outer mission a lot lately, but it's mostly been clustered. The same day Stacy and I went to Humphry Slocombe, we spent most of our long lunch at 22nd + Harrison, the corner where El Tonayense's taco truck is parked.

They serve tiny street tacos, similar to the style of Tacos El Gordo in SD, along with some burritos, tortas, and other fare. I got a taco al pastor and a torta with carnitas (torta is pictured below), and Stacy got a taco w/ carne asada, and a carnitas burrito. The carnitas were definitely the winner - so juicy and soaked in the fatty pork drippings... it was quite heavenly. The carne asada was dry, and the al pastor was good (pictured on the right), but a bit too BBQ-ish for me. The onions, cilantro, and lime were a nice balance though.

They also had this white milky drink thing that I think Alice would've liked. It looked delicious.

This was a nice, messy lunch, but too bad it's so far from Financial. The only real destination place in that area is HS!


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Humphry Slo-what?

There's a new ice cream shop in town named after characters from BBC's Are You Being Served? - Humphry Slocombe. Since it was opened by Jake Godby, a former pastry chef at Coi, it's obvious to expect the unexpected, and their line-up already lists a ton of bold and arresting flavors. There's a really great interview of him at 7x7. I don't really know if "ice cream is the new cupcake," since it's not really a trend (although there was a huge gelato fad back in the early 2000's). Plus, most of the establishments he listed have been doing business for quite some time.

Since it's still so new, they are only offering a limited selection, but people are already starting the Mitchell's/Bi-rite/Sketch/Ici comparisons. What did I think? I really enjoyed how "daring" the flavors were. The textures differed between the flavors, but that's as to be expected when using different ingredients (see Michael Laiskonis' lastest blog post). We ended up trying practically all they had to offer that day: we sampled the balsamic caramel, "secret breakfast," blue bottle vietnamese coffee, thai chili lime sorbet, malted dulce de leche... and I think that's it.

Both Stacy and I ended up getting the combo of the first two. The balsamic caramel was really balsamic-y which was almost gross, but quite perfect. The texture was very smooth and melty, too. The "secret breakfast" was like a morning meal for adults - bourbon ice cream with candied cornflakes. While I really liked the boozey cereal flavor, the cornflakes were mostly tiny bits, with maybe one random chunk. They weren't crunchy either, as to be expected since they get soggy so easily, even if they are candied. It was still yummy though.

Will definitely return! I really appreciate their innovative flavors, and even though they might not all work, they're definitely worth trying.


Thursday, January 15, 2009


I woke up early last Saturday, and since I currently have an empty fridge without even milk for cereal, I decided to drive down to Potrero/Mission (I really don't consider this area the mission, although a lot of people do... it's very borderline) since my schedule for the day was flexible. There's been a buzz going around about Dynamo Donuts since its summer 2008 opening, and I decided to spend my morning finally checking it out. It was really the perfect day to do it, too! The city is so great when the weather is warm(er), especially on a lazy and quiet morning when there isn't any traffic. I had never actually been by it, so I was really surprised when I got there because it's really just a kiosk. A very big kiosk, much like the Blue Bottle in Hayes.

It's called "Dynamo Donut + Coffee," but it really should've been the other way around. If I had been just a passer by, I wouldn't have even guessed they were known for their fried treats since their coffee machines and such take up almost the entire counter space. Their donuts seem almost like an afterthought displayed in domed cake stands. All that aside, let's talk about the donuts.

One of their most popular flavors is a maple bacon donut, which isn't exactly a particularly new flavor combination, but I wanted to try it nonetheless. Apparently they only make those "usually Fridays or Sundays." Shouldn't they make that information available? Blah. Instead, I opted for the meyer lemon huckleberry, and the banana dulce de leche filled one. I also specifically went fairly early in the morning, too, so I could get a good, fresh selection, but the ones I ended up getting still felt cold and as if they'd been sitting for awhile. I was hoping to avoid what happened with Doughnut Plant, but I guess it didn't matter in the long run.

The dough was nice and light, not greasy. However, I really feel that "gourmet" donut shops should either fry batches to order, or throughout the day. They would really taste ten times better, and wouldn't be susceptible to the chewy-ness that starts to happen after sitting for awhile. I think they are made off-site, possibly because of lack of permits or something, and that's really a shame. As for the flavors? The dulce de leche was very nice and creamy, but only one side had the filling, while the other side had a few mashed banana pieces. Are they adding the fillings separately? Doesn't make sense to me. It was nice that the huckleberry one wasn't just about the glaze, since it had actual pieces embedded in the dough. The meyer lemon, however, did not come out.

While I appreciated their flavors, I left feeling like I had wasted my morning. I would consider returning if I was in the area and they had the maple-glazed apple bacon donut available. Otherwise, I wouldn't trek back over there unless they started making fresh batches to order.


Saturday, January 10, 2009

Town Hall

Town Hall is one of those restaurants that have been on my radar for a long time, but I just never had the motivation to make my way over there. I finally went for lunch with bsze, who's a big fan of Salt House (sister restaurant). Its SOMA/outer financial location allows them a crapload of space for this Cajun joint, way bigger than the rest of the family, and an anomaly in SF's restaurant scene. We didn't sample the entire menu obviously, but we had an overall pretty good lunch.

Brian had basically a croque madame (I forget what exactly they called it) - small, but the poached egg was really lovely, and perfectly runny when punctured. I got duck enchiladas, which were pretty tasty, although the tortillas were difficult to cut through. We also shared some jalapeno cornbread, which came in this cast iron corn mold (I should've flipped them over for the photo, sorry). Sticky due to the honey, but cute nonetheless.

And of course, I had (not Brian because he doesn't like sweets) the butterscotch/chocolate pot de creme that they're known for. I didn't expect the portion to be so generous (seriously an entire bowl) since at Salt House we usually put the puddings and such in little mason jars. I seriously ate almost the entire thing, and immediately regretted it, but didn't. It definitely lives up to its reputation, being incredibly rich but just airy/light enough to not feel sick (unless you eat the whole thing like me). The accompanying chocolate-dipped toffee also adds some good contrast in texture, even if it does make it a bit more over the top decadent.

Town Hall is great for a power lunch, spacious enough for groups, and I'd be down to go again if someone suggested it.


Friday, January 02, 2009

Sun Diego

For the holidays, my family and I went down to socal to bring in the new year amid great weather, roses galore, and of course lots and lots of eating.

I got to sneak away for a day and went to SD to have brunch with Wendy in Hillcrest. We went to Hash House, which was packed with post-Holiday Bowl Oregon people. We both ordered hashes, because, well, it was the Hash House! They give you a lot, served in cute skillets, with gargantuan biscuits. This isn't a great picture of the food, but you can see the huge stalk (too big to call a sprig!) of rosemary and Wendy's adorable self.

Later on, I met up with Mike and he showed me around Chula Vista/Bonita, where he grew up. Awhile back, I wrote a post about El Farolito and how Mike is completely elitist when it comes to Mexican food, so he took me to get some of the "real stuff" he grew up on.

First up was Lolita's, supposedly the best carne asada fries in town. I had only had carne asada fries once before in college at Cotixan, but from what I remember it was just fries, carne asada, and some kind of white cheese or cheddar. The fries at Lolita's are totally different - with just the addition of queso blanco (more powdery/melty), guac, and some good salsa, it was a meal all on its own. Actually, while we were waiting for the order, Mike went to get the salsa ready and I was like "Are you supposed to put salsa on carne asada fries?" He just shook his head and rolled his eyes.

After eating about a fourth of our ginormous order, we headed to Tacos El Gordo for some TJ street-style tacos. We shared one carne asada and one adobada, which is this marinated pork. The adobada was definitely the winner with its creamy avocado sauce, fat drippings and all. It was an interesting setup - the shop was like an old school fast food joint (for some reason Wienershnitzel comes to mind) but the counter was divided by stations so you ordered from the section you wanted. Tortillas were fresh and one lady was just banging them out every 3 seconds.

We were about to get some flautas and tamales at Cuatro Milpas, but luckily for us (and our stomachs) it was closed. Instead, we went back to Hillcrest, where a friend of a friend recommended Mille Feuille, a newish dessert bar/tea salon/bakery/patisserie. We just bought some pastries to go - the classic of which they are named after, and their "paradox," an almond/hazelnut/chocolate confection. I only tried the latter, and the prailine had a very nice crunch... the glaze, however... well, let's just say that I didn't know it was supposed to be a glaze. It was strangely rubbery, as if they put wayyyy too much gelatin in it. The shop in general was kind of disappointing, but then again, we didn't actually experience the whole "afternoon tea" or "chocolate buffet" concepts they advertised, so I can't really say I know what they're about apart from what I tasted.

A bit underwhlemed, we drove down the street to our old faithful Extraordinary Desserts. When my interests in the pastry world were just beginning to develop, I was completely enamored by this romantic dessert cafe (referring to the original). No trip to SD would be complete without a visit to one of their two locations. It is still what it was, but I think my tastes have changed. It's been consistent throughout the years, but I guess actually working in the industry has exposed me to so much, and XD just isn't as exciting to me anymore. Don't get me wrong - it's still a nice place to go to. But... yeah.

So yes, all in all it was a great day (despite the hours and hours of driving to and from LA). I made it back in time to drive around Pasadena for 30 minutes trying to figure out how to get back to my sister's place with all the roads closed and drunken crowds holding up traffic. Yay 2009!