Sunday, June 21, 2009


No engagement is complete without SAN TUNG. Congrats to Cynthia + Elvin!


Friday, June 12, 2009

The Animal Taco: A Dream, Realized

Awhile ago, Curtis mentioned the idea of animal style tacos. Well, that day has finally come! Seeing as there's only one In N Out in SF (Fisherman's Wharf), our plan of attack was to grab some carne asada tacos (plain, just meat + tortilla) at a nearby taqueria, then pile the goods on - cheese, grilled onions, and thousand island - while the tacos were still hot. Well, things didn't exactly go as planned.

First of all, the closest taco shops were all closed since we were scouting after 11pm, so I decided to drive towards the Mission until we found something. As expected, the Columbus/Broadway intersection delivered, and I waited patiently in my car in front of a strip club while Curtis popped in next door.

Our second obstacle was getting the "animal style," in quotes as the noun form. After patiently waiting in the long line of drunkards, the cashier wouldn't let us get animal fries minus the fries, even after explaining our glorious plan. Thus, we just ordered 2 fries and hoped the cheese wouldn't set too quickly.

Once they called our number Curtis immediately began transferring the "animal style" onto the tacos. He is obviously not a food blogger because he wouldn't wait for me to take a picture! Unfortunately, the cheese was already congealed and stuck onto the fries, so we made half of them California animal tacos (think California burrito).

And?? The verdict: epic drunken food. Too bad we weren't drunk. Curtis was quite the opposite, and already stuffed with San Tung chicken wings. The California version was much better, really just because of the cheese. It would've been perfect had we gotten the tacos topped with "animal style" directly, but we just had to work with what we could get. Super super heavy (as expected), but regardless, mission accomplished!

We got a lot of stares, and only one group asked us what we were eating, but I imagine that this would be really popular if a late-night taqueria opened up next door. One can dream.


Wednesday, June 03, 2009

1300 Fillmore

A little while ago, Michael Bauer wrote about the rise of comfort food on his blog. Well, unrelated to that (or maybe we're just the type of people he's talking about), we visited 1300 Fillmore after talking about it for ages. Yes, I also just went to Front Porch recently, but it's purely coincidence! Stacy had gone awhile ago for brunch and really enjoyed her meal, so of course we had an itch to scratch after her raving reviews!

Our waiter was really fun, and the ambience was pretty much what I imagined - down to earth, yet still sultry. Definitely an inviting place to lounge around and spend some time before a show at Yoshi's next door. It's also surprisingly big with optional partitions to section off private events.

So how was the food? The hush puppies were non-traditional and pretty much just battered shrimp. The shrimp and grits was tasty, and pretty much a meal in itself. The char - I had to look up what it was, because I just remembered it as "salmon but not salmon" - was boring, and the lobster & andouille hash that was on the side was bland, super wet, and pretty lobster-less.

On a brighter note, the fried chicken had a ton of spices, even if it it was heavy on the batter. Beignets were filled with chocolate, the same chocolate that came as a dipping sauce. Strange, but we just dipped into the coffee foam which was a much better accompaniment.

Not a place I would go out of my way for, but definitely a great option to get you in the mood for some jazz.


Monday, June 01, 2009

Le Bernardin <3

If you've been reading this blog for awhile, you might have noticed that I have a bit of a chef-crush on Michael Laiskonis, exec pastry chef of Le Bernardin and their associated restaurants around the country. Le Bernardin isn't just famous because of Eric Ripert (although I'm sure everyone wants to be his BFF), but it is one of the few restaurants in the US with 3 Michelin stars, as well as a consistent rating of 4 stars from NYT.

I know we're in a season where fine dining and outlandishly excessive meals are shunned (not quite a twitter-happy establishment), but I've been so interested in the work he's been sharing that I just had to go.

We went with the Le Bernardin tasting menu (as opposed to the chef's tasting or the 4-course) with wine pairing. The sommeliers wore these huge medallions that initially seemed a bit absurd, but ended up being quite useful to tell them apart from the servers. The food was very clean, deceptively simple yet amazingly complex, and of course, refined.

Kampachi tartare, squid stuffed w/ more squid + mushrooms, crispy snapper w/ a truly lovely spiced sauce (as a whole, I felt like I was eating a beef stew, except not beef)

Recognize the dish on the left?? Hootie hoo! Escolar w/ a red wine sauce and little potato chips, cod w/ a red bell pepper sauce, served w/ a yellow bell pepper filled with braised octopus (tasted and looked like a tamale. clever!)

Now for the fun part. I contacted Chef Laiskonis when I made my reservation because I really just wanted to meet him and such. Well, I got much, much more! There were only two desserts on the tasting menu, and when the first course came, we each got a different unlisted dish (and they kept coming). The real treat was that they were all dishes I've read about before - experiencing first-hand how each individual component worked to contribue to a beautifully plated and delicious dessert definitely made all his work an amazing reality.

Ahh there was so much food I actually don't remember what the dessert on the left was but it was pistachio-based and perhaps similar to this one. R: yogurt parfait, basil ice cream, yogurt micro-sponge (my favorite of the evening)

Ahh again I don't remember what this was but it was a green tea and yuzu dessert. On the right is one of his signatures - an egg filled with chocolate pot de creme, caramel foam, topped with some Maldon salt

It was pretty cool because the dessert courses were paced from light (fruit and such) to heavy (chocolate) as well. Unfortunately, all that wine, plus my giddy excitement and thus inability to think straight => I really can't remember what we ate! It was all delicous, the textures and flavors all worked together nicely, and everything was innovative without becoming too inaccessible. <3

I think this was a milk chocolate cremeux on the left, and then a chocolate-PB dessert on the right. There were just so many! I should've written it down.

A chocolate sweet potato dessert, raspberry pearls, truffle + petit four (beignet is missing because I ate it too soon)

Three hours, a stretched stomach, and a hefty bill later, our server finally asked the magic question: "Ready to see the kitchen?" YESSSS

Unlike the kitchen I worked in, it was remarkably pristine, very monochromatic, and quite serious. They mean business! The pastry nook was a very large space (for NY pastry standards) and I got to say hi to the team and finally meet someone I truly respect and admire. So gracious, humble, and generous! Definitely an experience I will never forget!


Di Fara

I'm not an expert of NY-style pizza unlike Mr. Ferrari, but I enjoyed watching the love and care go into each pie at Di Fara, and it was quite delicious. It's supposedly one of the best (although there are places around Coney Island that supposedly have better sauces), but in the end it's all about preference... kind of like Zachary's vs. Little Star.. which is better? They're different!

During our expected hour-long wait, I took lots of videos and photos - after the jump!

First the basil, then the second dose of olive oil, then some extra freshly grated parmesan.

And the final product! My tummy was very happy.