Bay Area Homecoming

San Francisco's Dolores Park

San Francisco’s Dolores Park

Going home for the holidays was too wonderful. I was spoiled by warm weather (mid-60′s), good food, family and great friends. I wish I could have extended my trip longer, but in a blink of an eye, I was on a plane heading back to Shanghai.

I just wanted to share a few of the food highlights from the trip home. This was in addition to having prime rib for three straight meals in a row. We had two prime rib roasts for Christmas Eve dinner, which lead to an abundance of leftovers. I definitely did not complain.

Gochi Mountain View: Sashimi, Agedashi Tofu, and Onigiri

Gochi Mountain View: Sashimi, Agedashi Tofu, and Onigiri

Gochi is one of my favorite restaurants and they serve Japanese-fusion tapas. The original location is in Cupertino and there is always the longest line if you don’t have a reservation. They recently opened a second location in Mountain View. It seems a little bit easier to make a reservation since it’s newer.

Gochi: Unagi Clay Pot Rice

Gochi: Unagi Clay Pot Rice

They have some funky dishes on the menu like Japanese pizza and potato gratin, but my favorites are definitely the more traditional items like agedashi tofu and onigiri. The BEST dish is their clay pot rice and my personal fave is the unagi rice bowl. I love how you get the crispy parts of the rice all mixed in with eel, seaweed and veggies. I like to order a side of dashi broth because nothing tastes better than finishing a meal with a clean, light bowl of soup.

San Francisco's Foreign Cinema

San Francisco’s Foreign Cinema. Top Right: Heavenly Scramble; Bottom Right: Tuna Salad Sandwich

I miss San Francisco so much that it makes my heart aches. I’m sure that sounds overly melodramatic, but San Francisco is honestly my favorite city in the entire world. Since my time was limited, I made a point to have brunch at Foreign Cinema. Foreign Cinema has an awesome courtyard area and at night, they project old movies against a huge wall. While their dinner is slightly lackluster, they have one of the best brunches in the city.

Foreign Cinema: Pear & Currant Homemade Pop Tarts

Foreign Cinema: Pear & Currant Homemade Pop Tarts

At brunch, Foreign Cinema always has a daily selection of homemade pop tarts, which have fresh fruit fillings like pear and currant or mango and pineapple. The pop tarts are always divine. The maple-glazed bacon is also a must-order. I really enjoyed my dish, the “heavenly scramble,” which had fresh dungeness crab and brussels sprouts.

Bi-Rite Creamery

Bi-Rite Creamery

No trip home would have been complete without a visit to Bi-Rite Creamery, San Francisco’s premier ice cream store. My favorite flavors are always the salted caramel, ricanelas (cinnamon ice cream with snickerdoodle pieces) and balsamic strawberry (only available in the summer). With the warm weather, the line for Bi-Rite was extra long and wrapped around the building like three times. The wait is worth. Trust me on this one.

San Jose's Boiling Crab

San Jose’s Boiling Crab

I know it’s a chain, but I love Boiling Crab. How can you really go wrong with huge bags filled with Cajun-spiced shrimp, crawfish, dungeness crab and corn on the cob? Wash it down with some ice tea and accompany it with some rice and fries– you’ve got one killer meal. I was really appreciative of all my friends who came out to see me (I think we had a table of 11). I feel like it’s a bonding experience when you grab a group of friends who have to roll up their sleeves and eat with their hands.

And now, I will end this post with a picture of my favorite sandwich in the entire world. Turkey sandwich on sourdough roll with extra veggies and spread from the Village Cheese House in Palo Alto. It was the first thing I wanted to eat as soon as I got off the plane.

Turkey Sandwich from the Village Cheesehouse

Turkey Sandwich from the Village Cheesehouse

Hometown Glory, Bay Area Edition

Christmas Treats

Christmas Treats: Prime rib, homemade macarons, baked brie and Peking duck.

I had a brief but wonderful trip back home, full of good times with family and friends (and lots of food). I flew back home on Christmas Eve and was welcomed to a wonderful feast of Chinese and Western food. My cousin made amazing homemade macarons and baked brie (he even has a special wood-fire oven in his house). However, nothing could beat the Peking duck. My aunt has a brand-new steamer oven (I didn’t even know those existed) so we had freshly-steamed buns to pair with the three ducks. Yes, we had three ducks and prime rib. That’s my family for you.

Tonys and Super Duper

Pizza from Tony’s and cheeseburger and garlic fries from Super Duper Burger in San Francisco

One of the best days of my vacation was spent in San Francisco trying Tony’s Pizza Napoletena. The line for Tony’s is always CRAZY long (like 2-hour wait long), but I was determined to try their margherita pizza, which won the world pizza cup in Naples, Italy. They use special dough so they only make 73 margherita pizzas a day (talk about a good marketing tactic–exclusivity). My friends and I also ordered the Cal Italia pizza, which was the gold medal winner of Food Network’s pizza champions challenge. This pizza had asiago, mozzarella, gorgonzola, sweet fig preserve, prosciutto, parmigiano and a drizzle of balsamic reduction.

I loved the pizza. It was even better than Delfina’s because even though it was thin crust, it didn’t get soggy. While the margherita was delicious, the Cal Italia pizza completely won me over. I loved the combination of the slightly sweet and savory that came from the fig preserves and the prosciutto. The pizza was cooked perfectly with a thin, crispy dough, but fluffy crust. The Cal Italia would have definitely made it on my list of 100 Things to Eat in San Francisco Before You Die. If you go, I’d recommend going early to put your name down (they don’t take reservations) OR even ordering your pizza to-go and eating it in Washington Square Park.

While in SF, I also got to check out Local Edition, an awesome bar that opened up right before I left SF last year. It’s the same owners of the Rickhouse and Bourbon & Branch so you can expect highly-skilled bartenders making quality cocktails in ’20s Newsies outfits. No night would have been complete without some garlic fries and a cheeseburger from Super Duper Burger, one of my favorite SF burger chains.

Pinkberry

I love you, Pinkberry.

Bay Area Treats

My sister got me hurricane popcorn for Christmas!!! Mexican food from Fiesta Del Mar, sushi from Masa’s and brunch at the Rick’s Cafe.

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Pig, Pie and Jean Paul Gaultier

One of my favorite pieces at the Jean Paul Gaultier exhibit

I’m so happy that I got to see Jean Paul Gaultier’s exhibit at the de Young Museum in San Francisco before it ended this weekend. I made a whole day excursion to the city visiting the de Young, eating delicious angel wings at Marnee Thai and meeting up with friends for dinner #1 and dinner #2 (more to come on that). The exhibit was gorgeous, showcasing Gaultier’s exquisite works of art. It reminded me of Alexander McQueen’s exhibit at the Met, which I visited last year in New York.

Iconic Corsets

Costume Designs for Madonna

Holographic, Moving Faces on the Mannequins

Totally Looks like Body Worlds

Loved the Fluorescent Rope Dresses

Besides visiting the de Young and catching up with wonderful friends, I inadvertently tried a new restaurant in the Mission, Pig & Pie.  My friends and I had just finished a lovely meal at Dosa, but we all wanted dessert. I wanted pie, but I already knew my distaste for Mission Pie. Anne did some research on Yelp, discovered Pig & Pie and away we went!

Shaker Lemon Pie with Homemade Ice Cream

Pig & Pie Bratwurst

Pig & Pie Bratwurst

I love the concept of Pig & Pie. It’s literally sausage and pie. That’s it. They’re open until 1am on Fridays and Saturdays. Freaking geniuses. Because after a night of partying in the Mission, what else could a person want other than a slice of homemade pie and a delicious sausage? P&P serve three types of pie: pecan, shaker lemon and a seasonal flavor. When we went, they had a summer berry pie. I loved that the crust was buttery, flaky and everything that pie crust should be. My slice of shaker lemon pie was good, but I wanted it to be more sour (I always want my citrus desserts more sour). The berry pie blew my friends and me out of the water. One of my friends said it was the best pie she’s ever had.

Even though I had dinner and pie, I was ready to try P&P’s sausage (having two dinners is kind of the story of my life). Anne and I split their bratwurst, which was served with sauerkraut, caramelized onions and spicy beer mustard. Anne could not stop raving about how “amazing” the bratwurst was. P&P grind and case their own meat. We asked where they got their bread and it turns out it was P&P’s recipe and the bread is baked across the street at La Victoria. I highly recommend Pig & Pie and I like their sausages even more than Rosamunde Sausage Grill (I hope I don’t get hate emails from that statement).

SF: Jackie’s 100 Things to Eat Before You Die

Mussels

Poulette Mussels at Plouf

Egg Custard Tarts

Egg Custard Tarts at Golden Gate Bakery

Salmon Ochozuke at B Star Bar

Salmon Ochozuke at B Star Bar

If we have met, you’ve probably heard me mention 7X7′s  100 Things to Eat Before You Die. It’s been the unofficial guide to my eating adventures in San Francisco for the past three years. I get excited when I can try something that’s on the list and check it off (I’ve eaten 40 things off the list this year). While I have a lot of respect for 7X7, I find that I don’t always agree with everything on the list. I question why some dishes made it, while others were overlooked.

Strawberry Fields Drink

Strawberry Fields Drink at the Tipsy Pig

Considering that today is my last day as a San Francisco resident (sniff), my parting gift is my list of 100 things in San Francisco that you should eat before you die. This is the best of the best (at least in my world). Some of the things overlap with the 7X7 list. I’m sure there are so many other delicious foods/drinks that could be added, but I can only vouch for the items that I’ve personally eaten. In no particular order, I present to you:

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Spanish and Catalan Tapas at Contigo

Coca (Flatbread)

Coca (Flatbread) of Wild Nettles, Bacon, Onions and Manchego

In my quest for eating as much as possible during my last few weeks in San Francisco, I decided to venture outside my normal “comfort zone” all the way to Noe Valley. I can’t believe I’ve lived in this city for over two years and have never been to Noe Valley. My supervisor had high praise for the restaurant  (she’s also a foodie), plus it was another chance to check something off the 7X7  100 Things to Eat Before You Die list.

Jamon Iberico de Bellota

Jamon Iberico de Bellota

Calamars a la Planxa

Calamars a la Planxa

Albondigas

Albondigas

Churros with Hot Chocolate

Churros with Hot Chocolate

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Asian Fusion Goodness at The House

Miso Cod

Miso Cod Special

A couple of weeks ago, my friends and I celebrated Sarabeth’s birthday and I finally got to check out one of the restaurants on my list, The House. The House is a small restaurant nestled in North Beach. In a district full of cheesy and over-the-top Italian restaurants, it’s a little funny to find a Asian fusion restaurant tucked in the corner of Grant Avenue and Broadway Street. But, it was absolutely delicious and I would highly recommend it to anyone.

Hamachi Special

Hamachi Special

Crab Cake

Crab Cake

Salmon

Salmon

Sea Bass with Noodles

Sea Bass with Noodles

Pork Chop

Pork Chop with Pomegranate Sauce

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