Friday, September 22, 2006

Breakfast Mambo

Watch the Video
This is our first attempt at uploading video to the blog. One morning while having breakfast I was struck by how unnatural my cheese topped english muffin looked. The anemic color and geometry of the whole breakfast and plate seemed odd to me and I started moving the parts around on the plate...

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Mooncakes in San Francisco's Chinatown

After dim sum, the second addiction we encountered in Chinatown was the sweet bean paste filled Mooncake from the Eastern Bakery on Grant Street. This was the first Chinese bakery in Chinatown. Former president Bill Clinton ate a Mooncake here. A photograph taken in the bakery captures him munching down. After eating just one bite, we were at the bakery every day purchasing a Mooncake for the next mornings breakfast. We bought a wooden Mooncake mold and are determined to try making them ourselves. We were warned that it takes a lot of patience and practice to get them right. The Mooncakes we liked the best were filled with red bean paste. You have the option of buying them with or without a salty egg yolk baked in the center. The egg yolk set in the dark bean paste represents the full moon. The combination must be an acquired taste and not one that we warmed up to. We preferred the Mooncakes plain. The tops of the cakes are usually imprinted with a beautiful design of Chinese characters or symbols. We're not sure what ours read, but sometimes the characters represent longevity or harmony. See more about Mooncakes than you will ever want to know at wikipedia.

Now I think we are ready to go to China!

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Dim Sum in San Francisco

Yank Sing Dim Sum

You's Dim Sum

Dieter and I had our first encounter with dim sum while vacationing in fantastic San Francisco. We read a couple of guide books that suggested a dim sum meal at "Yank Sing" so we went there first. Here we experienced the Chinese Sunday tradition of selecting steaming dim sum as it rolled by on carts served by a persuasive wait staff. We could not resist trying everything and most every cart that passed our table left a plate of steaming dim sum behind. Before we knew it we had spent $60.00 on little plates of dumplings. We were not disappointed at all. The restaurant was full of families dressed in Sunday best and the atmosphere was lively. We liked it so much we decided to try dim sum again someplace else before leaving San Fran. In Chinatown on Stockton Street we passed a few dim sum carry out places and decided on one with a few tables called “You's Dim Sum”. Here the taste was equally as good as "Yank Sing", but the presentation was casual. At the counter we were given a cafeteria tray, a pink one covered with a piece of plastic wrap. Then the delicious looking dim sum in steamers just out of the of the kitchen were presented. Our selections were piled high on the tray. Total price $6.00, I repeat $ 6.00 for the both of us to be full to the brim. We loved the soy sauce and asked what brand they used. The reply was “you won’t find this brand because we make it ourselves here.” We sat at one of the few tables with our trays and all the while we could hear the chop chop chopping of food preparation coming from the kitchen and occasionally someone would walk out with yet another gigantic tray of steaming dumplings. Apparently Chinatown has more Hong Kong style dim sum restaurants than Hong Kong. And some people claim it is even better. I must confess that we had to go back to “You Dim Sum” the following day for one last taste. There I spoke to two police officers that had each purchased a bag to go, I mentioned to them “if you eat here, I made the right choice for dim sum “. He laughed and told me his boss the chief of police, a Chinese women, comes here when she wants dim sum. To get the full dim sum experience, we recommend both restaurants be tried.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

San Francisco Restaurant Review: Jackson Street in Chinatown

It seemed as if we always ended up eating on Jackson Street. Perhaps it was the proximity of our hotel, or having noticed that the restaurant clientele consisted mostly of asian eaters likely residents of Chinatown. The idea that the locals know where to eat, kept us coming back to this street of inexpensive and tasty food. The old adage “When in Rome do as the Romans do”, seemed to apply. Here is what we found.

Pho Golden Flower
The food was sturdy, not elaborate, a meal with no surprises, the staff friendly.My hat is off to this family run restaurant, the host told me she leaves homeat 7.30 am and does not get back until 11.00, each and every day, Saturdays and Sundays included. This fact alone sheds a new light of appreciation over a meal decidedly prepared to appeal to a wide range of tastes. Open daily 9:30 AM - 9:30 PM This restaurant is open for one half hour longer than most.
New Lun Ting Cafe
Their motto as found on the business card states “Fine Economy American Food Spaghetti”. I loved this place, a total blue collar eatery with a steady stream of customers, mostly men. A note to would be students or just budget minded travellers, this is your place. I had a roast pork dish over white rice, stacked high with caramelised onions and corn nibblets cascading off the plate. Polly my wife had fried fish in gravy mixed with baby bokchoy and carrot, with a side of white rice. Pictured below.
New Jackson Cafe
A decidedly un-Chinese sounding name with an unusual menu, such as Hong Kong style toast with condensed milk, Russian Borsch, Baked beef tongue with tomato sauce,and fried rainbow trout. Not exactly what you would expect as a tourist in China Town. To be fair much of the menu did reflect the Asian community. Polly ordered the daily special which happened to be salted cod chunks in white gravy over greens, one taste and I wanted to trade plates. I would say that today the daily special was special to the max. My meal consisted of a noodle dish with a shrimp filled won ton soup that was heavenly. The best part of dinning here is that no menu dish is more than $8.95.
Pearl City Seafood
This is the only restaurant I tried on Jackson that cost me more than a “Jackson”, that is $20.00. I happened to have been wanting to taste my first Dungeness Crab and my flight home was getting close. As we entered the restaurant large families clustered around tables, busy with crab and lobster, leading me to believe “this is the place”. The anticipation mounted as my “sizzling rice soup arrived” a cup of deep fried rice to be dropped into a broth loaded with shrimp, squid and vegetable, so nice. Gerald my co-diner and school friend ordered the lobster. Our dishes came, we ate, and Gerald exclaimed he was still hungry as I laboured over my anti-climatic crab.I am a self proclaimed blue crab picking freak, now decidedly done with Dungeness. My over all impression was that I would not go back to try something different. Service was not all that good and we had to pay extra for a small portion of dry white rice to accompany our meal.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Two Restaurants in the San Francisco Mission District

The “Roosevelt Tamale Parlor” is located in the colorful Mission District of San Francisco. A mural project started some years ago has given the district an out-of-doors museum status. Work up your appetite by taking in the mural walk ending with a late lunch at the Roosevelt Tamale Parlor. Contact Precita Eyes Mural Arts and Visitors Center for more information about the area murals. Getting back to actual eating. We ordered the combination plate of tamales to taste as much as possible. this entree was enough to fill us both up. A beef tamale smothered in special tamale gravy, calabacitas con crema (a squash tamale) covered with a tomatillo cream, and a shredded chicken tamale wrapped in a banana leaf with Oaxacan red mole, served with rice and beans. My beverage choice was “agua fresca” seasonal fruit drink, today it was mango, cool and refreshing. A plate of tamales with sauce does not photograph well, but taste it does, exceptionally well. I am a fan of tamales and the beauty is there are no hard set rules, only the chef’s creativity. I savored each bite trying to unravel the subtitles in each – eventually I just savored realizing my meal was a symphony of flavours to enjoy, impossible to reproduce. Stepping out of the restaurant, I turned to hold the door for my wife and spotted a news paper clipping about Diane Kennedy in the window(the cook book author of Mexican cuisine). The short of it was she had come here to demonstrate her tamale techniques. Need I say more? $14.95 plus drink will buy you a memory not soon to be forgotten.
Roosevelt Tamale Parlor
2817 24th street
San Francisco, California 94110
located between Bryant and York

At El Delfin taste is as bright as the setting. The interior is covered with murals depicting the Aztec culture and Spanish Conquest. The remaining walls are hues of terra cotta, red and ochres. The taste of the food here matches the color, vibrant without a hint of pretension. We started with “tostada de ceviche, fresh, fresh. For our main entrée Polly had “pescado a la Veracruzana” marinated red snapper cooked in a chunky tomato sauce. $11.00 and my plate “camarones borrachos”, tequila prawns was sublime $11.00. Our plates arrived hot with generous portions, all with amazing flavor. For dessert (featured here) we chose flan $3.00 not your typical slick eggy custard sitting in a little puddle of sauce – no, this flan rivalled any flan on the planet. My dining experience was one of my best in recent memory due in part to the gracious host Anjelica Sarabia, who’s sweet smile, makes me feel I should live near to her. Her family is very lucky her spirit is genuine and affecting. We ended the meal with “atole de nuez” a pecan and masa harina drink made by Anjelica herself, bravo! Look for the drink on our posting “ Three Drinks in San Francisco” coming soon. If you are looking for some well prepared Mexican style sea food this restaurant is a must do.El Delfin
The Sarabia Family Restaurant
3066 24th street
San Francisco California 94110

more El Delfin food reviews